What does the term “brand love” actually mean? Dr. Aaron Ahuvia is a Professor of Marketing at the University of Michigan and the most widely published academic expert on brand love. In this episode, he shares his insights on the best practices to make your customers fall in love with your brand, how brand characters can dictate how a person feels about your product or service, and the secret ingredients for brand love.

🎙️Talking Points:

(1:41) Can people love their jobs?

(5:58) Is it possible to love an object?

(11:22) The impact of brand characters

(15:42) The 3 strategies of brand love

(19:55) The #1 thing large companies are trying to figure out

(37:08) What's next in the research on brand love?

🔗Connect with Dr. Aaron:

🔗Connect with Tom: 

Tom Finn:

Welcome. Welcome to the Talent Empowerment podcast. We're here to help you love your job, unpack the tools and tactics of successful humans to guide you towards your own career empowerment. I am your purpose-driven hosts, Tom Finn, and on the show today, we have a legend, Dr. Aaron Ahuvia, Dr. Aaron. Welcome to the show.

Aaron Ahuvia:

Oh, thank you, Tom. Pleasure to be here.

Tom Finn:

If you do not know Dr. Aaron Ahuvia, you have been living under a rock, and we are going to introduce you to him today. He is a Czarnecki Endowed Professor of Marketing at the University of Michigan, Dearborn and the world's leading expert on brand love, a topic that is rapidly growing in interest among companies looking for long-term customer relationships. And that all started with research and work in dating services. He and his colleague were looking at how dating apps work, but before exploring the project, they needed to understand love, which was the start of a 30 year adventure. Now fast forward to today and Stanford University ranked him in the top 2% of all scientists worldwide and he's even been a guest on the Oprah Winfrey show. Now Dr. Aaron is a popular keynote speaker and has spoken about brand love at leading companies like Google, L'Oreal, Samsung, Maybelline, Procter & Gamble, Audi, General Motors, Microsoft, Ford, and Herman Miller and many, many more a few names that you might recognize. In his book, The Things We Love, he explains the psychology behind brand love. And if you'd like to learn more about the discussion after the discussion, you can check out his book. Now let me start with a simple one. You've got an impressive resume, extensive research in brand love. Have you uncovered if humans can love our jobs?

Aaron Ahuvia:

Absolutely. People love all kinds of things and jobs are something that is fairly common for people to love. It has... sort of all of the criteria if it's really done right. So one of the things that I found is it's often a little easier for people to love activities than it is for people to love objects. Activities are involving in a way and sort of engrossing in a way and there's Those all get merged together in your job. So in our culture, you know, what's the first thing you ask somebody a lot of times when you meet them is, what do you do? Right? And the reason you ask that question is a lot of our sense of identity is wrapped up in our work. So if we really enjoy our work and if we find it meaningful, then that combination along with it being part of your identity, hit sort of a trifecta there. Then there's one more point which is, and we get into the theory, I'll start to explain why this all makes sense, but bottom line is that love evolved for our relationships with people. You know, we did not evolve love so that you could love your cell phone. You didn't have a cell phone. We were evolving love. It evolved for people. And now we take this thing that was created for, evolved in the context of interpersonal relationships, and we apply it to all kinds of things that aren't people, but it's still a lot easier and a lot more natural to love people than it is to love anything that is in a person. And so it helps a lot if there's a strong connection. So you see this in all kinds of ways. People talk a lot about super fans now as a popular term. People say like, oh, this person loves Harley Davidson. He's a Harley Davidson super fan. He's a really avid customer. But if you think about the term super fan, what are the things we're really most super fans for? Well, sports and entertainment, music, movies. What does sports and movies have in common? Well, they're people. Sports stars are human beings. Movie stars are human beings. When you love your favorite rock band, it's a connection to other people, and your great sees it that way. And that makes it a little bit easier than a connection to a motorcycle. Even though you can't have that connection to a motorcycle, it just takes a little more challenging. Your work, it's all about other people. Other people in your office, other people you connect with. And so those connections with the other people and the way those make you feel are really gonna drive your love for your work. I'm gonna bet more than any other aspect to the job.

Tom Finn:

So can you really love your job if you don't love the people you work with or is that impossible?

Aaron Ahuvia:

I tend to, I wouldn't say impossible, but I would say highly unlikely. Uh, I have a former, a friend and a former roommate who once gave me some tremendous wisdom when apartment hunting. And he said, the number one thing about an apartment is your roommates. Everything else will turn insignificant. If you like your roommates, everything's gonna work out. If you don't like your roommates, nothing's gonna work out. And he was so, so right. And it's totally true for a job as well. If you really like and get along with and have a sense of camaraderie and teamwork with the people you work with, kinds of stuff and if that isn’t happening none of the other stuff is really gonna bail you out.

Tom Finn:

Yeah, I love the way you said that. Uh, we've all been in that roommate situation that doesn't work or many of us have, right? And that's not a whole lot of fun. So we can understand how the human interaction would be critically important. Are there other things that we can love like a Harley Davidson? Can you love a motorcycle as much as you love somebody else or are they two completely different ways of thinking?

Aaron Ahuvia:

I suppose it's theoretically possible that you could love a motorcycle. I hope people don't love their motorcycle as much as they love a person. And normally people don't. It's toned down, which is I think a nice thing. But you absolutely can love all kinds of objects. Your phone, your clothes, your car, lots of different stuff. It's possible to have that. In order for that to happen... because love evolved in the context of our relationships with people, in order to actually really love an object or an activity, your brain has to think about it as if it was a person. Your brain needs to sort of make it an honorary person and then you can start to love it. And there's three different ways in which your brain will make something a person. So one of those is what's called anthropomorphism, and we can talk about it for a moment, and then maybe touch on the other two as well, which are actually a little more common. But anthropomorphism is when the object looks like a person, like the front of a car. The headlights look like eyes, the grill looks like a mouth. People who design a car, they actually have a term they call it the face of the car. And they very consciously design different cars to have different personalities because they have different facial expressions. So some sports cars have over these sort of macho, kind of arrogant face-expressed, you know, almost evil-looking facial expression. Other cars have a sort of a cute adorable facial expression. So that's one way to get the brain to think about this object as if it was a person. But that's not the most common way. The two most common ways are connecting the object to a person that you know in some way. So if you think about a brand- well, I was talking to someone who was privy to a lot of data about consumer electronics industries. I was talking about how it's interesting, in the vacuum cleaner market there's one brand, Dyson, that people really love and feel excited about. And then there's all these other brands that are just kind of meh. And in cell phones, there's one brand, Apple, that people really feel excited about. And there's all these other brands that people feel a little bit meh towards. What's the big difference? Well, one thing that Dyson and Apple both have in common is we both think of a person. For Apple, we think of Steve Jobs. For Dyson, we think of Dyson. And we have that connection to a person. So if the brand is connected in your mind to a person in that way, your brain will think about the brand as if it was a person, and that makes it easier to love. So there's lots of ways of doing that, but that's one way of doing it. And then the last way that I spoke about at the introduction is if the brand is part of your own identity. And this comes to the, that we were discussing jobs, right? If your job is a big part of your own identity. Well, once you start thinking of something as part of who you are, you as a person. And so if it becomes part of your identity, you still get this, your brain still treats it as an honorary person and becomes emotionally involved with it in the same way it can become involved with the person. But if you don’t have any of those three things going, it doesn’t look like a person, you don’t think of it as connected to a person, you don’t think of it as part of your own identity, then your brain is going to think of it just as an object. We already know, I mean, it's interesting that neuroscience now backs this up with a lot of research, but even before there was neuroscience, we had this word to objectify someone or something. And so to objectify a person means you're thinking about that person as if they were an object. And what does that mean? That means there is some way that your brain thinks about objects, and it's different from the way it thinks about people. And when you’re objectifying a person, that’s not a nice thing. Because when you objectify a person, you don't love that person. And similarly, if there’s an object and you're objectifying an object, well there's nothing wrong with that. It's wrong to objectify people. It's perfectly right to objectify objects. They are objects. You can think about them like objects. But when you think about them like objects, you're not going to love them just the same way you're not going to love a person that you're objectifying.

Tom Finn:

Okay, so I get it. There's three different areas. You can look like the person, you can sort of feel the brand like the person, or your own identity is tied up in this in some way. So I wanna go right to item number two, this idea that Dyson is a person, or Steve Jobs is a person. What if you don't like the person? What if that character, if that brand character, is maybe on the wrong side of the aisle for you? or you just don't feel like you connect with that person. Do you disconnect from the brand as well?

Aaron Ahuvia:

Elon Musk, anyone? So yeah, that definitely happens. And we can look at two different examples of that. So Elon Musk is someone who was a hero to a lot of people. He was associated, of course, with Tesla and electric cars. Electric cars are considered green, so a lot of people who were more on the left of the political spectrum were interested in green issues. They didn't all love him, but they had pretty positive associations about him. He came out, he bought Twitter, and he started doing a lot of things that were more associated with the right of the political spectrum. And people really lost it. You know, there's a lot of loss of interest as a result of that. A lot of people who would have, I've spoken to people who said, I used to love my Tesla car, and now it's just a car. Because they feel this distance from him. And recently, Meta has introduced Threads, which is a Twitter competitor, and it has had the most successful launch of any sort of software platform pretty much ever. People are flocking to this new thing. Why are people going there? Well, because there's a lot of people who are on Twitter who are unhappy with Elon Musk and are looking for a way off. that person are going to drive your feelings about the object or what they're associated with. I'll give you one classic example of this. Imagine you're dating and the person, your date, gives you, the person you're with, a vase, and you really love this vase, you think it's beautiful, you put it on your mantelpiece, every time you walk by, you're happy to see this vase, you love this vase. Then you have a terrible breakup, and you’re furious at this person, you never wanna see them again, and you see that vase and you’re like, that vase is gone. That vase, it’s in the recycling, right?

Tom Finn:

Yeah.

Aaron Ahuvia:

It's out of here. Because your feelings about the vase are really driven by your feelings about the person. And that's going to happen whenever you get this kind of a connection. It's one of the reasons that I sometimes advise companies, if they're just starting this process, maybe create an animated character to be the spokesperson for the company. Because an animated character or a digital character, it's not a real person, is never going to have a scandal unless you really want there to be a scandal, in which case they'll have exactly the kind of scandal you want them to have. So you're really in control of that character, and you don’t have to worry about their- you know, who knows what horrific thing they do, and you wake up one morning and read about it in the paper.

Tom Finn:

So what you're saying is the Geico gecko has never been on the front of the tabloids for getting into trouble in New York in the wee hours of the morning.

Aaron Ahuvia:

Absolutely. That gecko is great because it's got the personality that they want and they are in complete control of this. And the other thing about it is you can keep them for a long time. And so you want people to develop this long, ongoing sense of relationship. So there are some brands that will use, say, sports heroes. And that works pretty well. But they have to change every four or five years. And You know, that's got a little bit of a problem if you want people to develop this ongoing sense of relationship. Now, Nike does this, and Nike seems to have done pretty well despite this issue, but it really can be an issue.

Tom Finn:

So when you think about effectively cultivating brand love and you're not a new company, let's say you're a legacy company, you've been around 25 plus years, 50 years, you're a known brand, you're not tied to a human because you've been around longer than that. Do you give advice when you're talking to these brands about how to reignite the brand love for their product or service?

Aaron Ahuvia:

Sure. So, as I said, there's these three basic strategies. One is to use anthropomorphism, your product looks like a person or talks like a person or what have you. The second is to associate it with some person. It doesn't have to be a person at the company. Some companies do this really well. I was just looking at an ad for a credit card. And it was he was saying the picture was a father and daughter in Egypt looking at a pyramid together, and it was all about how this trip, this father-daughter trip to Egypt, really helped them bond and form a much deeper relationship with each other. And then what funded the trip to Egypt? Well, it was the credit card. So it's really, it's the relationship between the people that provides the emotional depth. And the credit card is there to help support that relationship. And so that's another way, it doesn't have to be like a person at the company. But assuming you're not doing those two, then we get on to the third, which is really the most common. And that's the person's own sense of identity. And this connects a lot with your podcast because you've got a special focus on what sometimes are called mission-driven brands or purpose-driven brands or purpose-driven companies, whatever the jargon happens to be. Some sort of a company that’s not only out to make a profit. It’s got something else going on they think is important, something else that they want to achieve while they’re doing this that is actually a big help when you are trying to create brand love. Because people are more likely to love a company or an organization if they connect with it at a deeper, more personal kind of level. If they feel it really represents them, if they feel it shares their values and their sense of how the world works. And it’s easier to do this if that’s sincere. And you can get a nice interaction going where you've got the company, excuse me, the employees who work at the company. And I know a lot of the listeners here have HR or some sort of a personnel related function. And so they're often thinking about employee morale and employee other considerations there. Well there is research showing that when employees love their jobs customers are more likely to love the products that are produced by the company. And it makes sense, because when employees love their jobs, they’ll go the extra mile to help the customer. And then there’s also a nice feedback loop, which is if a company has a really good public reputation, then if you say, oh, I’m working at such and such company, people go, oh, cool, you work there. That’s a good thing. Whereas if you work at a company that people don’t really like, it’s the opposite reaction from the people that you talk to. So if the company can create this sort of positive reputation for itself, that makes the employees feel good about their jobs. They feel good about their jobs. Their morale goes up. They do a better job. The customers love it more. And you get this nice, positive interaction going.

Tom Finn:

Yeah, I remember when I was coming out of college and I went to the career fair and Philip Morris was there. And I just remember thinking, how could I work for a company that sells tobacco to young people and it causes all of these health issues? And I just remember thinking, yeah, I'm not going over there. Even if they offer me the job, I don't want it. And so that has an impact on all of us, right? That idea of doing good in the world, and products that do good in the world. Certainly that's part of my identity and it meant something to me not to walk over there and to go the other direction, right? So I think that makes sense. So when you, when you think about this with your customers that you work with and you're out there doing speaking events and you're talking to groups, what's the number one thing that these large companies are trying to figure out?

Aaron Ahuvia:

The number one thing is, why isn't this working? We see companies like Apple that show us it can work. They show us, yeah, there are companies that produce tangible products where people obviously love those products. And I do research on this and I can tell you Apple is by far the most loved brand in the United States and probably around the world. So you see this and then they see the kind of profits this can lead to. There was a period not so long ago when Apple was selling about 20%, a little less than 20% of the world's smartphones, but was earning 92% of all the world's profits in the smartphone market. So how the hell do you earn 92% of the profits while selling, you know, the less than 20% of the smartphones? you got to have a high profit margin. It's only mathematically, right? You got to have a high profit margin. Why don't the other cell phone companies have a high profit margin? Well, if they raise their price, nobody's going to buy them. Apple raises its price, people still buy it. And that's how it's able to do this. So the profitability is obvious to people, and they envy that. And they say, look, we’ve tried this, and we've really invested a lot in creating great products and great services for customers, but we’re not getting the love back that we think is commensurate with that kind of investment, what’s going wrong? And the answer to that is that brand love, it's a little like a cinnamon roll. So, you know, a cinnamon roll, the main ingredient is flour, brand love, the main ingredient is product quality or service quality. If you don't have that, you don't have anything, it's not gonna fly. But a bag of flour is not a cinnamon roll. You need more than that. So for brand love, there's two other major ingredients. The next one, in addition to just having a great product or service, is customer experience. keeping track, looking at what's happening with the customer from the moment they start, looking for information about the product, gathering information, shopping, buying, using, servicing, the whole chain down through, how are they feeling? That provides the chemistry for falling in love. If you think about a date, we’ve all been on dates where we’ve said afterwards, that person looked good on paper, but there wasn't any chemistry. What does that mean? Look good on paper is like product quality. It's like they had the attributes I was looking for there wasn't any chemistry, all that really means is, I wasn't enjoying myself. If you go out on a date and the conversation is easy and you’re having fun and you’re laughing, that’s chemistry. And if you go out on a date and you can’t think of what to say and the conversation is difficult and you’re feeling bad about things, that's not chemistry. So with a brand, if the customer experience is really positive, they’re feeling good, that creates the chemistry. But then there’s the last ingredient. And this is the ingredient that people don’t even know that they are missing. Thay don’t even know it exists out there. And that's what we've been talking about for most of this show. And that last ingredient is like the yeast. The yeast isn't the largest ingredient, but it activates everything. It makes everything else happen. And so this is getting the customer’s brain to think about your product or brand using the same kind of thought processes in the same ways it normally thinks about a person. And we’ve talked about the three main ways of doing that. And the reason so many customers, excuse me, so many companies are frustrated… is that they’re putting a lot of money into product quality as they should be because it's super important and they're putting some money into customer experience as they should be because it creates the chemistry it’s super important and they haven’t gotten a clue about the yeast the thing that’s going to activate it and make it all work and make it all come together.

Tom Finn:

And that last one is the one, is the list of three that we went through before, which is look like a person, feel like a person, have an identity like a person.

Aaron Ahuvia:

Right, so it's looked like a brand, looks like a person. The brand is connected in the consumer's mind to a person, right, and that might be a person who works at the company, or it might be their friend who told them about the product, or the brand is connected to the consumer's own identity. Think of it part of their identity, yeah.

Tom Finn:

Yeah, beautiful. So if you were out there looking at organizations, is there one that you would love to get your hands on to just turn it around because they're, they're either so far away from where they need to be that you would just love to get in there and work with that leadership team and turn this thing around. Is there some something that comes to mind, um, that you'd love to get your hands on?

Aaron Ahuvia:

You know, I don't want to name names in that exact context. But I will say this. What I really would love to work with are, I mean, I work with a lot of different companies. But I really love to work with companies that have some sort of a purpose. They're mission driven. They're purpose driven. They've got something else going on. Because those companies, usually if you do that, your costs are a little bit higher. It just, it's a natural, you're trying to do more harder things. You're trying to do something harder, right? So your costs are going to be a little bit higher. So if your costs are higher, your prices are going to have to be a little bit higher. How do you get customers to pay those higher prices as your brand love comes in? And... brand love is a good fit because people love brands that they feel connected to. So one of the most loved brands among certain parts of the population is Patagonia. And people, when they talk about Patagonia, they're like, this company really cares. I mean, it's not garbage from them. It's not just bullshit. Like, they really mean it. And that allows Patagonia to charge a premium for their products, especially if you're looking at younger consumers. Younger consumers really want brands that connect with them at this deeper level in terms of what they're willing to pay a premium for. Now, they're very happy to buy brands that don't connect with them at a deep level if the price is low enough. That's fine. And that’s another strategy. And we can talk about that too, because... Brand love isn't actually for every company. It's not the right answer for everybody. I know that sounds like heresy coming from someone who sort of is associated with that, but it's really not. In order to create brand love people have to care enough about your product to pay attention to what you're doing. And if you’re in an area where people aren't paying attention, they really don't care, brand love is probably a waste of your time and effort in terms of what you’re going for. You would actually be better using a strategy that I call useful, pleasant, and easy, which is you make the product useful, you make the experience pleasant, and you make buying it easy. And you’re not gonna get a price premium of any great amount and you’re not gonna get a lot of brand loyalty that's a sort of an emotional brand. You might get people who have a habitual brand loyalty it's not gonna be because they really care but you're not gonna spend a lot of money trying to get them to care when they're never gonna care anyway. So there really are two different strategies here.

Tom Finn:

So how do you determine if you're sitting there as a leadership team and you're in that corporate boardroom and you're thinking, okay guys, we're stuck, we've got that number one problem, which is why isn't it working? And we have two choices. We're gonna go brand love or we're gonna go useful, simple and easy. Raise your hand on which side you wanna go, right? I mean, how do we actually look at data, facts, logic, business intelligence to determine which area of the spectrum we're closer to? Or quite frankly which one could be more profitable for the organization long term?

Aaron Ahuvia:

It's a complicated issue, but there are a couple of clues you can look at. First, how interested are people in your topic? So if you're the kind of company you're, you're not Nikon or Canon, you're selling cameras. People really care about cameras. They read magazines about cameras. If people go take their free time to go online to like look at product information because they find that interesting. That tells you that you've got enough of the consumer's attention that a brand love strategy might be quite viable for you. On the other hand, if you're in a product category, you know, you're selling lined paper for notebooks and reams, right? It's probably the case that people don't pay that much attention and don't care that much. And you're sort of better off just saying the human brain thinks about objects one way and people another way. We're selling objects. We're just going to let the human brain think about them like objects and we're going to win in object world. We're going to live in object world and we're going to win in object world. And that means we're spending a lot of money on distribution, making things really convenient to find. We're spending a lot of money on reminder advertising, making it top of mind, like Coke and Pepsi, right? All this, so it's always right there, sort of at the top of your mind. And that's where our investment is going to be. So part of it is the nature of the category, but then it also has to do with the nature of the competition. How crowded is that marketplace, in terms of getting people to love the brand? Is there a lot of room there? Or are there already a lot of well-established brands that really have a lot of emotional loyalty from people? So there's competitive issues that you have to look at as well.

Tom Finn:

Sounds like a lot to unpack.

Aaron Ahuvia:

It is. You know, I'll tell you one thing about love that's true in our personal relationships, as well as in our organizational or business relationships. And that is love is pretty much the most rewarding thing in your life, in your personal relationships, and in your business relationships. It is also has the potential to be very rewarding. But love... is complicated in your personal relationships, and it's complicated in your business relationships, and it can sometimes be challenging in your personal relationships, and it can sometimes be challenging in your business relationships. So I wish I could tell you that there's this one weird trick that's gonna solve all your problems, but I can't promise you that.

Tom Finn:

Yeah, so you heard it here folks. Dr. Aaron Ahuvia, there is no silver bullet around love in your personal or business relationships. You're just going to have to grind through it like the rest of us and figure it out. So what got you interested in love? Like where did this come from for you personally?

Aaron Ahuvia:

I was in the PhD program at Northwestern. And I was in a course, there's a very famous marketing professor, Philip Kotler, who was teaching and I was in a seminar with him. And he was like, everything is marketing. Why even dating is marketing? If you're dating, you're marketing yourself to somebody else. And I was single at the time, and dating was way more interesting than real marketing. So I asked him if I could do my term paper on dating. And he's a very open-minded guy. He said, absolutely. but he introduced me to Professor Mara Edelman who had data on a dating service and so she and I started working on that and we became The world's, I say this without arrogance, we were the world's leading academic experts on dating services because we were the only two academics in the whole world stupid enough to study dating services. So we had the whole thing entirely to ourselves. Nobody else was looking at that. And it happened to be good timing because that's just when the internet got going and dating services started to really take off. And this thing that was this bizarre topic when we started. It became this enormous topic in society. I mean, when we started doing this, almost nobody used a dating service. Now, online singles ads of different kinds and matching services, online services, are by far the most common way that people meet people, you know, their partners. But that was not true at the time. So in order to... pursue this research on dating, I had to become something of an expert on love. How did these things work? Why did people fall in love? And how did you choose who you were gonna love? Eventually I realized that I needed to do something a little bit more mainstream if I was ever gonna get a job. But I had spent a lot of time reading on the psychology of love and I didn't want to go to waste. So it occurred to me, well, you know, people always talk about, do, you know, they do, I love my phone, I love all these different things. my car. Do they really mean it? Is that really love or is it just using that word? So I decided to look into that and then also just by captain's dance turned out to be very good timing. That research that I did was the first academic scientific work really in detail exploring when people have relationships with objects, you know, how does that connect to the psychology of 1992 I published the first paper in that area. Today if you go on Google Scholar and you put it in Brandlove which is what it eventually came to be called, you’ll get over 14,000 different papers all over the world by people all over the world doing this. So it's really grown and it's a big area now because when you talk about neuroscience and you do brain scans on people, they've done quite a few studies where they have compared what’s happening in someone’s brain they look at a brand that they love or a product they love, whereas if they look at a person that they love. And they find some differences, there are some differences but there are also a lot of similarities, so many that it’s pretty clear that at a neurological level people really do love things. And so it’s an important way to understand out relationships with activities, with our job, and also with objects in our lives and others.

Tom Finn:

Your research has expanded a lot over the years since 1992. And with a lot of people working in this space, how do you feel that it's made the biggest impact or influence? What are you most proud of as it's evolved?

Aaron Ahuvia:

It's interesting to see how many companies are serious about brand love. I talk to people all the time and they're like, yeah, our company, we run our marketing, it's a big global company, we run our marketing all around brand love. And there's a little bit of a divide between the business world and the academic world. It's kind of funny because a lot of those people don't really know who I am. They're talking to me. But that's fine with me. I'm like, OK, that's great. I really, you know, I go home with a little turtle. That's nice to see. So it is good to see how much it's been adopted. And for the most part, I think it's a good thing in the sense that most of the time, what companies do when they want to increase brand love. is they try to make products that people, that are more useful for people, that people like better, and they try and treat their customers better. And if I can get companies to make better products and treat their customers better, I feel that's a good day's work.

Tom Finn:

Yeah, that is beautifully said. And I hope that most people feel that way when they're running and operating businesses, treat people better, make better products, create a better experience, and ultimately that leads to higher profits for your organization. If that's something you're interested in. So that's a win-win for consumers and businesses alike. I love the way that you're positioning that. So what's next in the research of brand love? Do you continue down this path? Is there more to learn or have we kind of figured it out at this point?

Aaron Ahuvia:

Oh, we are so far from having figured this stuff out. There is a lot more to learn. But one of the things I'm working on now, I've been working on for years, is an interesting study on what the impact of brand love is on the consumers themselves. It's like a logical impact on the consumers themselves. I was worried about this and not with bad reason. There's a lot of research. Another area of research I do is on happiness and on materialism. and There's a lot of evidence that being materialistic is bad for you psychologically. People who are materialistic tend to be less happy, they tend to be less psychologically healthy, less mature, there's more likely to use drugs, to smoke, there's just more anxiety, there's so many different psychological problems that sort of go along with being materialistic. It's not a good thing. People who love brands do, on average, tend to be a little bit more materialistic than people who don't love brands. It's probably not going to surprise anyone to hear that either. So logically you would think that loving products or brands would probably be bad for you. However, what's interesting in the work is at least in terms of a correlation, people who have products and brands actually tend to be a little bit happier than people who don't. And it's logically confusing. And I've been working on this for many years trying to solve the riddle of what's really going on and why do we get what sounds like this sort of contradiction. haven't solved it yet so I'm keeping working on it.

Tom Finn:

Well, there's something still to be done then. I like, I like to hear that. I don't want you to be finished with your research just yet. Um, look, this has been fantastic. And honestly, I could talk about this for another hour, uh, and dig into this. Um, but we're going to have to leave it there and bring it back on next time. Dr. Aaron, where can people find you if they want to get in touch?

Aaron Ahuvia:

So in terms of the business stuff, my website is drbrandlove.com. So drbrandlove.com. And you can find me there. And I'm looking forward to hearing from people.

Tom Finn:

Yeah. And we'll put that in the show notes and get everybody filtered over to your website so they can meet with you, connect with you, talk about brand love and figure out really what it means for their organization, how they can use this set of tools and tactics to lift up their own organization, lift up their customers, lift up their employees, which is really what this is all about.

Aaron Ahuvia:

Thank you.

Tom Finn:

And thank you for joining us, my friend. Appreciate it. And thanks for joining the Talent Empowerment Podcast. We hope you've unpacked a few tips and tricks to love your job. Get ready to dive back into all things career and happiness on the next episode. We'll see you then.

Tom Finn
Podcaster & Co-Founder

Tom Finn (he/him) is an InsurTech strategist, host of the Talent Empowerment podcast, and co-founder and CEO of an inclusive people development platform.

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