Lovemarks for Life Stages


People make an infinite number of decisions each day, though we’re not particularly active in our decision-making. A study from Duke University found that up to 45 per cent of the choices we make daily are habitual, not conscious decisions. Our shopping habits and loyalty to certain brands is one area in particular where we tend to run on auto-pilot. Once our preferences and behaviors are ingrained, it can be incredibly difficult to change them. This is something that brands are well aware of, which is why marketing attempts need to be creative and catchy, while capturing the right people at the right time.

A potential goldmine for brands and marketers is when people experience a major life event, and shopping habits become flexible. A 1984 study published in the Journal of Consumer Research, which is still referenced today, found a positive relationship between brand preference changes and life changes, with people who are undergoing life changes more likely to be open to intervention by marketing.

For example, the study found that people are likely to start buying a new type of coffee when they marry and there’s an increased chance that people will start buying different brands of beer when they divorce. The birth of a new child is also widely recognized as a key stage in people’s lives when buying habits suddenly change. With brand loyalty and shopping habits in flux during major life changes, brands need to take hold of these well-defined opportunities in people’s lives, and mindful that their loyal customers are at greater risk of being targeted or swayed by competitors’ brands during these times.

As observed by The New York Times, “precisely timed advertisements can change shopping habits for years.” Therein presents an opportunity to create Lovemarks, but only through a combination of timing and insight to evoke intimacy, the third signature of a Lovemark. Intimacy requires an understanding of what matters to people at a very deep level when they’re going through a significant change in their life. It can turn an experience that is given to hundreds and thousands of people into something more meaningful.

For brands that want to attract new customers this means targeting people who have recently experienced or are about to experience a major life event, using a combination of demographic data and shopping intent data, to detect purchasing patterns. It is understood to be common practice, with most major retailers from grocery chains to the US postal service having a predictive analytics department devoted to understanding consumers’ shopping and personal habits, to more efficiently market to them. However, brands should proceed with caution, looking beyond the data to truly understand their customers and create meaningful connections.

Feature image source flickr/jamesjustin