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How Social Perception Can Elevate Store Brands

By Pernille Bruun-Jensen

Store brands have a unique challenge to solve. While their marketing (and packaging) points out the obvious truth – that they often contain the same ingredients or materials as their brand-name counterparts – they are still often passed over for the more recognizable name brand, even though they cost less.

It’s a consumer choice that defies logic.

But when it comes to name brands, logic isn’t behind the decision. Emotion is.

The Power of Passion

Emotion might sound like something brands don’t need to worry about as they’re tracking social media metrics, but what we’ve learned is that the more passion there is for a brand, the less price matters to the consumer when it’s time to make a purchase. That means understanding the emotions that drive purchase behavior is something brands can use to engage consumers at a deeper level.

Case in point: We know that consumers are passionate about luxury (which includes name brands). So does that spell doom for store brands? Not at all. It just means they need to consider the audience they’re trying to attract, and speak to them in their language.

And with name brands, the language is sentiment.

Social perception isn’t just about numbers, likes, retweets and @mentions. Sentiment matters because it provides context for social interactions – the kind of context that helps brands predict what consumers are going to do. But it’s also not just about emotion – it’s about the intensity of the emotion.

Who do you want to talk to first – the consumer who likes your product, or the one who loves it? How about the consumer who hates your competitor, but hasn’t found you yet? You definitely want to know about them.

Sentiment is Your Foot in the Door

Measuring brand passion gives brands information they can use to engage with consumers at a deeper, more personal level.

For example, one of the things consumers love about luxury brands is the high quality of the products. But many dislike the expense, and feel that luxury purchases are a waste of money – even while they may struggle with the desire to own the “name.”

This information gives store brands an opportunity.

The woman wishing she had the room in her budget for both an iPhone 6 and a new pair of Louboutins might be swayed by your tweet suggesting she buy your less expensive (but equally gorgeous) shoes, and the iPhone. Because you’ve appealed to both her passion for luxury and her passion for shoes, all while promoting your own brand.

When brands use social analytics platform tools, they can gather the necessary data to appeal to consumers at this deeply personal, individualized level which is much more effective than a blind post chirping about their low prices.

And this same principle applies to every level of luxury – that expensive name-brand cough syrup may not be any better than the store brand version, but the perception of quality – of luxury – is still there. Which is why it’s important for store brands to leverage sentiment to find a way in.

The thing to remember is that passion runs in both directions, and while consumers may love one major brand today, they could as easily fall out of love tomorrow. Store brands need to dig deeply on social media to be sure they know where consumers stand so they can tap into those emotions when targeting their messaging.

If they follow the passion, store brands can absolutely compete with their more well-known rivals.

Pernille Bruun-Jensen is CMO of NetBase, an enterprise-scale social media analytics company.

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