Home > business, personal > Self-Dishonesty and Brand Loyalty

Self-Dishonesty and Brand Loyalty

I just finished reading “The (Honest) Truth about Dishonesty: How We Lie to Everyone — Especially Ourselves” by Dan Ariely.

The book was quite good in the level of detail the author included about experiments and how the results of those experiments show that people lie to other people and to themselves more frequently than they might think.

But the takeaway of one study was one that I found intriguing:

These results suggest that once someone (or some organization) does us a favor, we become partial to anything related to the giving party — and that the magnitude of this bias increases as the magnitude of the initial favor (in this case the amount of payment) increases.”

It is interesting that I was reading this book at just about the same time that I was writing the draft for my Cabot Cheese social media case study post in which Cabot sent me free cheese. I ended up using the cheese as ingredients for recipes posted on my food blog and then posted about my overall experience with the brand here.

It’s not too surprising, I think, to read the above quote.

Dishonest with yourself

The dishonesty part came about because, in the experiment, people underwent fMRI scans while seeing a painting and a logo of a gallery. Each participant was informed that one gallery provided payment for the experiment.

Participants were asked to like or dislike paintings, and the results showed they liked ones from the gallery that paid for the experiment. But when asked, participants said the logo had no effect on their choice.

Clearly, self-deception was at work.

Brand loyalty

It should not be a shock that when a brand does something nice or offers a free product or service that there will be a little bit of loyalty. The loyalty does not have to last a lifetime, either.

I recognize that I’ve had these types of feelings toward other brands when they have been kind or done nice things to me. I tell myself that I feel no need to reciprocate the brand’s kind gestures.

But, really, there’s nothing wrong with reciprocating, so long as you’re honest with yourself.

How willing are you to reciprocate exposure or other gestures to brands when they do so to you?

  1. Alex Jones
    July 16, 2012 at 8:31 am

    You made an important branding discovery here. Damn, I did not see that one until now. In my local park people feed the pigeons, ducks and squirrels to such an extent they will come up to you and feed out of your hand.

  2. July 16, 2012 at 10:58 am

    Not a thing wrong with reciprocating. It’s human nature to want to do something nice for someone who has done something nice for you!

  3. July 16, 2012 at 11:08 am

    I JUST picked up that book, seriously.

    It’s so easy to be nice to people who are nice to us – the same is true of brands. Why brands make us jump through hoops is beyond me – it only means folks are going to switch as soon as they find a minimum viable alternative!

    The autobiography of Ben Franklin reveals something similar: Ben borrowed a book from a dude, who subsequently became his buddy. The fact that Ben had asked him to do a favor was of no consequence, the bigger bit was that Ben had shown interest in the dude’s favorite book – and thereby became someone with whom he could now discuss his favorite subjects…

    • July 16, 2012 at 2:00 pm

      I love that story, Nick. I’ve often said “I have the good sense to like people who like me.” Or, put another way, everything we need to know about networking for business and by extension how to behave in social media interactions we really learned in kindergarten: Show interest in other people.

  4. July 16, 2012 at 12:40 pm

    Sounds like a good read. Guess I would challenge the use of the word “dishonesty”. Having conducted tons of marketing research, we know that people don’t honestly feel they are influenced by such things despite the fact that their actions confirm it to be true. The bottom line for any brand is: It pays to go the extra mile to show appreciation to one’s customers and prospects. Always has and always will. Thanks for a good post.

  5. July 16, 2012 at 1:42 pm

    Yes, there is no shame in being nice and offering reciprocity.

    Bloggers by nature are independent – that’s why they are bloggers. This is great lesson in Cialdini book Persuasion.

  6. July 16, 2012 at 3:45 pm

    Very interesting insights Dan, especially after last weeks Cabot Cheese case! Reinforces the effect of the good old fashion “pink spoon” 🙂

  7. July 16, 2012 at 10:17 pm

    I’ve heard about this book, but haven’t had a chance to pick it up. It seems in line with relationship marketing, which I absolutely love. Might have to grab a copy soon!

  8. July 26, 2012 at 10:13 am

    People lie? Yeah, and some probably lie more than they think, because they believe in their lies. And Nick makes a good point, about certain brands that make you jump through hoops. Good post…

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