You and We: Causal Effects of Minor Language Variations on Brand Perceptions

Aner Sela, Stanford University, USA
Christian Wheeler, Stanford University, USA
Marketers often try to promote consumers’ feelings of being in close relationships with brands by portraying the brands as intimate partners with consumers. But should this strategy always lead to more favorable attitudes? Three studies demonstrate that intimacy-implying language (e.g., saying “we” rather than “you and [the brand]”) can have either positive or negative effects on brand attitudes, depending on whether the implied intimacy is consistent with consumers’ perceptions of the relationship. The studies examine the moderating roles of brand category and specific individuals’ relationship histories with the brand, and show that these effects are mediated by perceived brand honesty.
[ to cite ]:
Aner Sela and Christian Wheeler (2010) ,"You and We: Causal Effects of Minor Language Variations on Brand Perceptions", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 37, eds. Margaret C. Campbell, Jeff Inman, and Rik Pieters, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 223-226 .