Business, the Brain and Brand Loyalty

by Diana Drake

The exploration of all the ways that business touches your lives can lead to some intriguing places. Wharton Global Youth has followed economic and entrepreneurial threads inside cities and family businesses, through Hollywood entertainment and Silicon Valley startups, across the blue economy of oceans and ESG investing, to the metaverse and beyond.

One of the most provocative areas of business today asks people to look within for an understanding of some of the key mechanisms underlying decision making, innovation and insight, empathy and human connection – at the nexus of business and brain science.

The Science of Neuroeconomics

The Wharton Neuroscience Initiative at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, seeks to build better business through brain science, which is to say that business professors are combining the study of the architecture of the brain and how it operates, with their areas of research to understand the business mindset and build better business leaders. Simply stated: neuroscience provides a powerful tool for understanding the reasons that people make the decisions they do.

Michael Platt, founder and director of the Wharton Neuroscience Initiative and a Wharton and Penn professor of marketing, psychology and neuroscience, believes that neuroscience can have a major impact on business in everything from marketing and brand strategy, to leadership. He is a driving force behind the science of neuroeconomics, to help us better understand decisions in all these areas.

Dr. Platt spoke to hundreds of high school students studying with Wharton Global Youth during a Summer High School faculty lecture series on Wharton’s Philadelphia campus.

Dr. Michael Platt.

He helped to define the Wharton Neuroscience Initiative’s work beyond educating students. “We also engage with the community, in particular corporate partners and other partners outside of academia, where we have the opportunity to put our science into practice and collect data to demonstrate the value of using a neuroscience approach to solve challenges in business,” he said.

To illustrate the power of neuroeconomics, Platt shared details of a study in which he and his team applied neuroscience to a specific business marketing challenge: creating more effective brand strategies that lead to stronger customer brand loyalty.

Why is this important? “Customers who have a deeper emotional connection to the brand deliver more value to the company,” Platt noted. “So, this should be the goal of every company, of every brand, to build that kind of social, emotional connection with the brand. To do that, we need to understand how people think and feel about the brand that they own.”

Traditionally, the business world has surveyed people about their connection to brands. Even the field of behavioral economics looks at how people use their money to understand the underlying motivations that lead to their brand decisions. Big data follows the path of customer patterns and activities.

Neuroscience, argued Platt, provides an even more direct window into customers’ brand choices. “Why don’t we just go to the source of all that data, the human brain?” he asked.” That three and a half pounds of meat and fat between your ears…This is the source of everything that you do, every experience that you have, every thought, feeling or decision that you make.”

How Do You Feel About Your Phone?

In the brand-loyalty experiment, Platt examined the activity and pathways of the brain in the context of how people think and feel about their smartphones, particularly high-profile brands Apple and Samsung. “We developed a new approach that we call brand empathy. It hypothesizes that if you have a strong social-emotional bond with a brand, that you will display the sort of patterns of brain activity that you would display to the person you love who is experiencing something good or something bad.”

By analyzing maps of brain activity in Apple and Samsung customers and focusing on parts of the brain involved in empathy, Platt and his team were able to draw conclusions that might help other companies strengthen the emotional connections with their customers, boosting brand loyalty.

A few key findings: Apple customers have strong emotional-social connections to the Apple community and, ultimately, to the company brand. On the other hand, the brain activity of Samsung customers suggests that they choose that brand because they don’t like Apple, not because they really love Samsung. They have very little emotional-social connection to the Samsung brand.

An implication of this neuroscience data, said Platt, is the message it sends to emerging smartphone competitors. “If you are a third phone brand coming into the market, which customers would you try to acquire? Which customers would you spend money trying to target with your advertising? It would be wasted money if you spent it on trying to acquire Apple customers because they’re never going to give it up, right? But Samsung customers are going to be much more willing, because they don’t have that strong personal, social, emotional connection with the brand.”

More importantly, the study reflected that a deep dive into the brain can give researchers a more objective measure of what people are feeling and thinking about brands. “Some brands, like Apple, are better than others, like Samsung, at building social and emotional connections with customers,” noted Platt. “And the key to building these connections is creating a sense of identity and community.”

Click HERE for a demonstration.

Companies are exploring other ways to apply neuroeconomics. For example, Lululemon has been using a neuroscience approach to understand how women’s brains respond to different kinds of textiles and fabrics. Neuroscience is increasingly helping to take away the guesswork in business decision-making, suggested Platt.

“I think the biggest area where neuroscience will have an impact is in management and human resources,” he added. “If we can develop a better, more precise understanding of people, of workers and leaders, we can do a better job hiring, a better job onboarding, and a better job of training and development, both at the individual and team level.”

Conversation Starters

Dr. Michael Platt discusses his experiment on smartphone brand loyalty. Where in business do you think neuroscience would be most helpful — seeing into the synapses of the brain? What would you like to feed into the nexus of business and brain science to learn more about how we make decisions?

Dr. Platt and other neuroeconomists believe that a deep dive into the brain can give researchers a more objective measure of what people are feeling and thinking about brands. Maybe a more honest assessment than what someone might respond in a survey. Why is brain science more objective and possibly more reflective of how someone feels? Can you think of any potential challenges with this cognitive approach to building better business?

Do you agree with Dr. Platt’s findings on Apple and Samsung customers? Which are you? Do you have brand loyalty? Why or why not? Do you “belong” to a different brand? Share your customer-centric perspective in the comment section of this article.

18 comments on “Business, the Brain and Brand Loyalty

  1. I’m going to be honest, the only reason why I decided to read this article was because it mentioned Lululemon. Little did I know the article was going to be about brand loyalty, yet there I was exemplifying my passion for a brand at its finest.

    However, I used to hate Lululemon. Similar to Samsung customers, I shopped at other athletic-wear brands, not because I loved their clothing, but because I simply hated Lululemon. But, just as every year the number of Samsung users becomes less and less, while Apple continues to gain popularity, I was eventually sucked into a world consumed with Lululemon. While the article mentions Lululemon applying neuroeconomics for a purpose other than studying brand loyalty, according to a study, 89% of Lululemon customers show loyalty to the brand, and that includes me. I like to believe I am not obsessed, nor feel a sense of connection to the Lululemon brand, but one look into both my closet and my brain will prove me wrong.

    I 100% agree that a deep dive into the brain is the best way to identify how customers truly react to a brand, and will certainly catch me red-handed in my obsession with Lululemon. As Dr. Platt noted in his study, the brands that ordinary people, like you and me, feel attracted to, are due to the identity we form and the community we join once the first purchase is made. Furthermore, businesses who excel at brand loyalty have the power to make us (customers) stick to their brand, and their brand only, without even realizing it.

    While you can fake an emotion on the outside, on the inside, you can’t. As one takes a look inside the brain, activity in the limbic system shows how well the customer connected to the brand socially and emotionally, illustrates a truthful response to how one feels about the product or service, and displays how much the customer feels part of the “family”. Thus, studying neuroeconomics and brand strategy make a valuable learning tool for crafting the perfect brand loyalty mindset blinding customers to the other products on the market.

    For example, every time I walk out of a Lululemon holding their signature bag, I feel a sense of adrenaline run through my body. Despite all I had accomplished that day, it’s funny how the most exciting part is 1. Convincing my mom the product is going to be a valuable asset to my wardrobe and 2. Hopefully, with a YES from Mom, make the purchase. 20 minutes prior, I was walking into the store and got greeted by a friendly Lululemon educator, as the company likes to call their employees, making me feel welcomed to my home away from home. It’s the feeling of being wanted and worth something to the educator, despite the fact they are getting paid, that makes me delighted and leads my brain to a purchase. The adrenaline combined with the personal connection is what makes me return to the familiar store over and over again, feeding into my addiction for happiness masked by clothes.

    But while I would like to think this is the perfect method to build a better, stronger business, it’s hard to turn a blind eye to the fact that we are all different. While I feel a social and emotional connection towards somebody greeting me, someone else might take the simple conversation starter as an indifference. Businesses know the key to having a connection with a brand is to create a sense of identity, however, because we all have existing identities, each unique to our backgrounds and past experiences, it’s hard for customers to resonate with the same connection strategy. Instead, businesses have to manage a way to connect with each customer, specific to their identity. This has the potential to do more harm than good for a business, wasting both time and money on, from an outside lens, a basic marketing strategy. This is especially true for small businesses that are simply trying to survive in the never-ending tug of war to attract customers and can only afford to spend their resources on directly increasing profits. Brand loyalty at the end of the day depends on the customer reaction, which is simply unpredictable unless studied on.

    I will be leaving neurologists to understand the most complex organ in the human body, but as an economist and business leader, I know combining business and brain science can lead to a significant advance in the way brand strategies increase brand loyalty. Though we are all different, I strongly favor the personal connection between myself and Lululemon and want to be part of making all 8 billion unique people on this planet feel the same way.

    Dr. Platt, I find your work greatly interesting and important in today’s fast-paced consumer world. Thank you so much to Wharton Global Youth for allowing me to express my thoughts and further my love for Lululemon!

  2. I find the neurological side of economics to be fascinating. Fortunately, I attended the 2022 Wharton Global Youth Essentials of Finance program and had the pleasure of listening to his lecture in person. I distinctly remember the captivation I experienced, and I have always wondered how branding in the future will change the landscape of Neuroeconomics and Brand Marketing. It will certainly be interesting to see how these studies apply to future companies and their advertisement strategies to acquire more customers!

    • Happy our cross-program lecture with Dr. Platt sparked your interest! Stay tuned for more Global Youth neuroeconomics content to feed that curiosity.

  3. As someone with a fascination in both neuroscience and the world of business, learning about this study cannot be more interesting. Although I have just learnt the technicalities behind this, I would have to say that Dr Platt’s findings on Apple and Samsung customers are unsurprising given the notorious competition between the two brands (Let’s be honest, we’ve all heard the iOS vs Android debate more times than we can count).

    What this study around Apple and Samsung reminded me of, however, is another equally long-standing rivalry: the Marvel Cinematic Universe vs the DC Extended Universe. Of course, unlike with phones, it isn’t a ‘choose one only’ scenario as you don’t necessarily only have to watch only one movie while (most) people do not own more than one phone. However, it is undeniable that the same concept of brand loyalty and brand empathy could play an even larger role in the world of entertainment.

    Fans of the MCU are usually not fans of the DCEU, like how an Apple “fan” will never go near a Samsung phone. There is no teenager that has not gotten engaged in this debate at least once (funnily enough, when I first joined the debate club, this was the ice-breaking motion), which is why I can say with utmost confidence that brand loyalty is equally rampant in this industry.

    Moving away from the rivalry is another aspect to the studios’ success. Something that fascinates me about the MCU (apart from its amazing storytelling and CGI) is its marketing strategy. My friends would probably laugh if they knew I had spent hours researching the studio’s history and growth strategies rather than watching the actual films, but well, that is my life. The MCU’s franchising targets the very social-emotional bond Dr Platt discusses, using the audiences’ attachment to the characters and their stories to build a strong brand. Similar to how Apple has created such a strong social-emotional bond with its users, I believe the MCU was not just a product of artistic love, but the utilization of a similar strategy. Who would not want to see all their favorite characters together on one big screen? Definitely not me. I remembered begging my parents to take me to the opening night when Avengers: End Game first came out, so whatever it was behind their thought processes, it had worked (I ended up going back to watch it three more times, I am very aware I have fallen into a marketing trap).

    Of course, brand loyalty does not only exist in movie franchises, but I believe it is a concept that should be explored throughout the entertainment industry. Actors, directors, studios and even music can make a film successful solely through the loyalty of their fans. I have gone to movies which I have zero interest in simply because I was a fan of the lead actor, and I am sure everyone has done something similar. Us, humans, are fundamentally built on connections, the attachment we built to certain things are what companies can study and build on. Everything we see on screen is a brand of their own, being marketed as their own product to the consumers watching at home. Celebrities are marketed as a product themselves which is why they have a team of managers and PR teams to make sure their image remains in their trademark. Agencies play into publicity stunts to “sell” more of their actors.

    The entertainment industry is equally as expansive of a business world as technology, consumer’s decisions might even be more cutthroat than Apple vs Samsung. Neuroscience would definitely be helpful in studying the social-emotional bond of consumers towards a similar, yet different, “product”–humans. It would be a whole new world if brands are able to further exploit and utilize the concept of attachment in entertainment and connections to “human” products. Behavioral business and brain science, I believe, are two sides of the same coin—being able to combine both aspects into future decision-making strategies will definitely be a great advance.

    Humans are complicated beings. While we may never fully comprehend the inner workings of our very own self, I think this is a step closer to unraveling our mysterious behavior. Thank you.

  4. Thank you to the Wharton Global Youth team for the study as well as for allowing me to ramble about my personal experiences with Apple. As a high-schooler, tech-consumer, and electronics-enthusiast, I’m always the first to tune in to the next Apple event. I love watching the progression of these seemingly simple but actually incredibly complex devices as if what they were announcing was the pinnacle of human innovation.

    In the case of Apple, it is very particular with how it wants us, the consumers, to think of the company. In malls, Apple stores always stand out with their all-white and glass exterior, and their devices beautifully laid out with an ocean of empty space in between each one. Every time I walk into the store, I feel a sense of wonder and curiosity that any other store would have a hard time replicating. As I explore the new yet familiar layout of the store, I see that there is always an employee there if needed. I definitely agree with Dr. Platt’s research in that being in the Apple ecosystem and engaging with Apple products is an entirely different experience from any other consumer electronics out there.

    Because my family uses Apple phones, I was given an iPhone hand-me-down as my first back when the iPhone 7 was the latest model. It was at this time that I discovered Apple’s “It Just Works” philosophy. The simple User Interface and exclusive features like iMessage and AirDrop made iPhone my first choice. None of the Android phones at the time really matched the experience nor were they “cool” enough to warrant the swap.

    Moreover, I believe that Apple uses these same features to turn other people against Android users. The infamous green text bubble is the first example of this. In a group chat, if everyone had an iPhone except even a single person, the entire group would have to face the pain of SMS messaging, without the stickers, read receipts, or the blue color. I remember wanting to play gamepigeon (an app in which you can play minigames with friends through iMessage) with a friend, only to realize they had an Android. If I took a photo and wanted to send it to a friend, I would instinctively go to the AirDrop menu, only to realize again that they had an Android phone. In a way, we Apple users are acting like its goons, constantly reminding the Android users of what they are missing out on, making them much more inclined to switch over to Apple than the other way around. In other words, Apple is well-versed in leveraging the fear of missing out. I even experienced this firsthand with a friend of mine in middle school. He had a Samsung Galaxy S8 and all he ever wanted was an iPhone. Although he had been an Android user for years, he wasn’t satisfied and desperately wanted to switch over. When I asked him why, he couldn’t give me a reason, he just knew that he really wanted one. This not only supports Dr. Platt’s findings on Samsung versus Apple, but also demonstrates how Apple’s marketing, exclusive features, and expansive userbase make its products so sought after.

    Dr. Platt has covered that brand loyalty relies on individuals sharing a bond with the company to a point where the loyalty is almost innate and customers see no point leaving. Apple, being the richest company in the world, knows this better than anyone. They already hire marketing professionals that make deliberate decisions to keep the customer not just happy, but also fiercely loyal. When the Samsung Galaxy Z-Fold and Z-Flip phones were announced, even I could not help myself but to have considered changing to one of those futuristic flip-screen phones. But every time I think about it, I realize that I would have to change my lifestyle, and current phone-using behavior so much that it wouldn’t justify the switch. It doesn’t help that transferring data between the two operating systems is a chore, unlike the seamless transfer of data that happens when you upgrade from an older iPhone to a newer one. Even if I had made the switch, I would lose out on iMessage, gamepigeon, and I wouldn’t even be able to use my Apple Watch anymore.

    Apple stands alone in the electronics Market, in a way that it can pass itself off as a “Luxury Brand”, much like actual luxury brands such as Gucci and Louis Vuitton, creating that strong emotional attraction and the desire to own one of its products. Apple’s devices are made with quality and are covered by long warranties and even longer support with software updates, which further strengthens the emotional and physical attraction to the product. And with such a large userbase, Apple can take advantage and create Apple-only features, which strengthens social attraction and stops people from switching away.

    Once again, I’d like to thank the Wharton Global Youth team and Dr. Platt for the valuable and relevant information, and for allowing me to delve deeper into the topic with my own stories and theory of Apple as a company.

    • Daniel, your comment on the social-emotional connection between customers and companies truly resonated with me. Your personal experience and insights added depth and authenticity to your arguments, compelling me to delve deeper into the topic. I’d like to share my perspectives on some of the points you raised.

      In your comment, you highlighted Apple’s approach to fostering social-emotional connections with customers through its store design and service. I couldn’t agree more, as I vividly recall my own visit to an Apple store in California. The clean and minimalist ambiance left a lasting impression, but what truly touched me was the interaction with an employee who later revealed he had autism spectrum disorder. Despite his disability, he provided exceptional service, showcasing Apple’s inclusive workplace culture. This experience solidified my emotional connection with the brand, proving that inclusivity can indeed play a significant role in strengthening the bond between customers and a company. Having this inclusive environment could be one of the strategies that may boost a strong emotional connection that Dr. Platt mentioned in the article.

      Your last argument addressed in your comment has also caught my attention. Especially, when you mentioned your points about luxury brands connecting to the points made in the article. “Dr. Platt has covered that brand loyalty relies on individuals sharing a bond with the company to a point where the loyalty is almost innate and customers see no point in leaving.” For luxury brands, I believe there is a different perspective from the Apple and Samsung experiment since the main issue mentioned in the article was about brand loyalty and empathy. While luxury brands do create a strong emotional connection with customers, I share your perspective that this connection may, in part, be due to the exclusivity and high price associated with these brands. This exclusivity can lead customers to feel a greater emotional attachment to the luxury itself rather than the specific luxury brands. As a result, luxury brands may face challenges in fostering the same level of brand loyalty and empathy as companies like Apple and Samsung, where customers form a deeper connection with the brand’s values and ethos.

      The article and your comment, both astutely pointed out that the social, emotional connection between customer and brand relationship does benefit the brand in terms of bringing more customers and value to the brand. While corporations provide convenience and satisfaction through their products and services, I believe that it is also essential to address the ethical concerns surrounding data collection and its potential misuse. According to Guardian, “The 200 million Amazon Prime members are not only the corporation’s most valuable customers but also their richest source of user data.” Amazon provides a personalized shopping experience to enhance convenience but unethically collects customer data to achieve it. I believe that applying corporate transparency to such corporations would empower customers to understand how their data is utilized and ensure their data protection. By fostering trust and security, corporate transparency can strengthen the social-emotional connection between customers and brands, while also preventing unjustified actions by major corporations, contributing to a more equitable society.

      I believe that the social-emotional connection between customers and companies has multifaceted implications. Companies like Apple exemplify how inclusivity can bolster this connection, while luxury brands face unique challenges in fostering brand loyalty. Moreover, it is crucial for major corporations to prioritize corporate transparency to safeguard customer data and promote a more secure social-emotional bond. By considering both the benefits for the brand and the customers, we can build a stronger and more meaningful relationship between customers and companies, ultimately contributing to a better society as a whole.

    • “Think Different” this motto reflects Apple’s brand promise of innovation.

      Hi Daniel, I don’t know if you’re obsessively attached to Apple, but every time I read your comment, it reminds me of Apple’s motto. Your comment is talking about how great Apple is and how Apple’s brand loyalty can’t keep up with Samsung. Not only that, but it also describes how awesome Apple is, as if it’s undermining Samsung’s brand value. So I was really wondering if you were a hidden employee of Apple. It was as if you were explaining to people why Apple should be used, but let me tell you what I think based on your comment.

      As you mentioned in your comment, Apple’s marketing strategies have strengths. Including a strong brand identity, a valuable brand, industry-leading innovation and technology, a brand of choice, competent research, and a superior consumer experience. In addition, Apple Stores offer a unique and engaging retail experience with their minimalist design, product demonstrations, and knowledgeable staff. The stores serve as a venue for showcasing Apple’s product lineup and providing customer service.

      However, as you inferred in the comment, Apple continues to take its own steps. For instance, the pain of SMS messaging without the stickers, reading receipts and blue color or playing game pigeon that you mentioned in the comment. This is similar to white people’s behavior of ostracizing or ignoring Asians. When I was in middle school in Chicago, the white boys said, “If you want to play with us, paint your skin with white paint.” Likewise, Apple informs Android users, “If you want to join the group, buy Apple.” It’s exactly the same with indeterminate discrimination between the users.

      Since Dr. Platt said in the article, “Being in the Apple ecosystem and engaging with Apple products is an entirely different experience from any other consumer electronics out there,” not only makes people feel belonging but also makes people feel contempt for those who do not use Apple.

      Apple acts and thinks as if it’s swallowed up the phone market. Like, “Rather we keep raising the price, people will buy our products.” In your comment, “Apple’s uniqueness makes users convenient,” is it? If you were born into a good family and used only Apple products every year, you might think that, but I don’t think I can understand from my point of view that my father’s business went bankrupt, and immigrated to the United States to do laundry store. Also, from the consumer’s point of view, monopoly is something that must be avoided. This is because companies will gradually raise prices without meeting socially optimal standards.

      Apple is surviving in the world with so many issues in this manner. As you said, Apple’s brand value is high, but other issues must be addressed. Please be cautious while discussing brand diversity and brand value in the future.

      • Hi Daniel, as another fellow highschool expert on the consumption of big brands like Apple, I was compelled by how well your comment complemented Dr.Platt’s hypothesis on brand empathy. Your use of personal connections with a company to draw parallels effectively conveyed an authentic and powerful argument. But your comment wasn’t the only thing that caught my eye, for when I saw how you have already inspired others to reply, I was further intrigued by how the phrase “brand loyalty” resonates with different people. Thus, I would like to share my views and continue this thread.

        Like Yeonwoo, I too, have been to the minimalistic and polished structures known as Apple stores. The exquisite, glistening glass panes, accentuated by bordering white walls dominate the entrances of Apple stores, immediately promising its customers with a unique vibe. This modern aesthetic contributes to a memorable and futuristic experience that creates the sense that one is purchasing the luxurious “tech of the future” – even if one had come back a dozen times after breaking their infuriatingly fragile phones. But I believe that Apple has more methods to strengthen their hold in our brains than just the appearance of their stores. For one, Apple’s move to be simplistic, even in their labeling of their products has given them an incredible foothold in brand identity. Their famous use of “i” before their products was a genius move that not only filled the necessity to come up with a new hip or zany name for every new product, but also allowed their identity to be directly associated with the type of products they are selling. For example, “iphones” are literally just phones with an “i”! It is no wonder why it had so easily been successful in integrating itself into the English lexicon and so, would be recognized and used interchangeably by the public- essentially becoming free advertisement! Apple has effectively monopolized the name of a product!

        Regarding your comment on the feud between Samsung and Apple, I can’t help but agree. Though I am not a tech enthusiast nor even notice a new tech product until it is no longer new, the raging battle between the two giants was easily able to permeate my life. After sifting through my memories, I remember that my first introduction to Samsung was when I entered one of their stores. It, too, features a glass building which in retrospect, seems to mirror the design of Apple stores. But what stood out to me, even as a glue drinking five year old, was that in place of the shiny silver walls of Apple stores, Samsung’s stark, black walls immediately foils the design of Apple products. This use of light and dark motifs immediately conveys a sense of competition and contrast, yet also creates an immediate connection between the two. It is difficult to mention light without dark and Apple without Samsung. But like in many great literature, media and a particular movie the light conquers the darkness – Apple is winning the phone.

        In one particular project, my friends and I were working tirelessly to film and formulate a history documentary. I borrowed one of my friend’s phone to record an oscar performance of his. I realized that I didn’t know how to close out of a tab nor even record a video with his camera app. When I asked for help, my friend, after performing a complicated maneuver to return to the home screen and did some voodoo to get the camera to work, answered that he had an Android. Before I even uttered a word, he immediately bristled and responded “Yeah I have an Android, Ha-Ha. It’s still a phone!” I was startled by his retort as I hadn’t yet been aware of this feud and yet my friend was already ready to reply, as if this was a script he had to repeat many times before. It was at this that I realized another aspect of brand identity: competition.

        Competition is an integral part to a brand’s identity in the way that it influences its own communities to become, as suggested by you, goons and loyalists that fosters loyalty and drives a need to convince another of the superiority of the brands of their purchases. Samsung V.s Apple. McDonald V.s Burger King. Coke. V.s Pepsi. All of them, when boiled down, offer the same service, but have enough differences to garner a preference in their consumers. This highlights the necessity to “Think Different,” as highlighted by Daeyoung, to create a sense of identity and establish a difference from their competitors. However, I disagree with Daeyoung in his opinions on what inspires Apple’s advocates and critics. The lack of iPhone features within Samsung’s phones are not what inspires hatred to Androids, but rather drives the loyalty of Apple users. The ostracization or hatred of Samsung doesn’t hinge on the color of text bubbles or a difference in preferred features, in fact these points amount only as the source of jokes or herd mentality amongst adolescents. The stronger contempt between these two are found in people’s dislike of Apple, as found by Dr. Platt. Now this dislike of Apple doesn’t come from an attachment to Samsung and rather are more likely to be, as you mentioned, the problems of Apple as a company. Apple’s monopolizing grip on the technology industry, its business practices, and ethics are all, as Daeyoung mentioned, greater reasons for one to foster a strong dislike for Apple and to protest by choosing Samsung.

        In brief, this article exemplifies the powerful connection between brands and brains. It is vital for brands to be able to connect with consumers to simulate an emotional attraction. But to different people this connection can fall into a whole spectrum of emotion. Perhaps, it could be one’s love of a product, dependence of a product or knowledge of its product. Or it could be one due to one’s hatred of the alternative, rumors of another, or the opinion of the month. But these emotions, whether out of love or hate, all still result in a consumer’s passion for the product. It is essential for veteran companies to choose a model that they believe embodies their audience and expand upon it and up to startups to build around their niches and form their own identity.

        As Yeonwoo mentioned, to those who desire privacy over convenience and personalization, they will choose the alternative. After all, the most effective advertisements are not the despicable ads on TV, but rather the discussion and discourse between consumers. But as consumers, one must keep in mind that for multiple companies to exist for the same product, there must be a consumer that holds a different desire. It is not innately the companies which inspire conflict, but rather they only inspire passion that is up to the choice of consumers to cause discord.

  5. While scrolling through Tik Tok on a lazy Friday evening after school, I came across an advertisement about an Etsy shop where anyone could sell handmade and unique items online. Since my best friend Sally and I always loved making small keychains, phone accessories, and bracelets, I reached out to her, asking how she feels about opening up a small online store. Sally seemed excited and we both thought it was a great idea to have a little something that would keep us occupied and earn ourselves some extra money during our spare time. Sally had tons of strings and beads back home, so we were able to make a lot of different accessories with various themes such as beach, summer, winter, and floral, as well as just many plain color straps. It was an exciting event as we both expected to make our own money by hand-making accessories throughout our school break. However, unlike our high expectations, our sales were very low and we barely made any money. We were barely getting around 20 online shoppers visiting our site and less than a quarter of them actually buying our products. We were full of stock but wished to put the “Sold Out” label on our products. Since it was just the two of us in this business without any experience with selling products online whatsoever, we were completely lost and had no idea how to improve our marketing and business skills.

    In order to figure out what people are looking for in our products, I knew it was best to ask our school peers about our shop and products since our school was full of people our age who are interested in such items as phone accessories and key rings. Just a week after school started we sent out an email to everyone with a survey form for them to quickly fill out to help improve our business. The form included questions asking, “Simple or fancy designs?” “What themes do people want?” and “What size is the best to carry around?” We found these aspects crucial since we wanted to develop products that would attract young adults’ preferences, fulfilling the needs of our target audience. We wanted to understand what our visitors really liked and were hoping to find when coming across our shop. Thankfully, many of our friends and classmates noticed our survey and filled it out with numerous suggestions with constructive criticism.

    While skimming through our survey responses as well as our purchasers’ choice of accessories, we noticed a pattern in different groups of people with two very distinct preferences. We were able to identify these groups since almost every customer came back to buy accessories of the same theme and style as the ones they have previously bought from our store. For instance, customers of Group A, who prefer colorful and bright colored key chains always came back to buy similar styled ones whereas Group B customers, who prefer darker or more neutral-colored ones came back and bought accessories with similar designs.

    Later, we also looked into other online sites on different social media platforms such as Instagram and Pinterest to learn what tools and strategies other business owners use to keep their sales up. We watched basic guiding videos as well as TED talks, and even interviews with some of the most successful brand owners, such as Steve Jobs and Jeff Bezos. Through all these amazing speeches and lectures, we were able to identify one thing that everyone had in common to reach success: good customer service. We were able to learn about the owners’ attitudes and goals toward their business and customers, and how that helped them grow their marketing strategies as well. In the article, Micheal Platt mentions how “Customers who have a deeper emotional connection to the brand deliver more value to the company, so, this should be the goal of every company, of every brand, to build that kind of social, emotional connection with the brand.” Sally and I realized that making good products and having a full stock was not the only important aspect of a great business, but also the importance of providing good “Customer Service” and how it affects the way buyers feel towards our brand. This helps build warm connections with our shop, resulting in those buyers coming back again and purchasing other items from us, becoming loyal clients of ours.

    After quite a long time of researching and reviewing our surveys full of feedback, we added many new accessories considering the suggestions we got from our survey, as well as small offers by making personally customized accessories as well as a discount event every weekend where we would put 30% off for every single one of our products from Friday to Sunday. Sally and I were finally back in business, and this time we were so much more prepared and ready to make more money and increase customers.

    At first, we were pessimistic about how our improvements would grow our business, but to our surprise, they did. Just a week after reopening our shop, we were gaining over double the amount of customers we got when we first started selling on Etsy. We were answering more messages online from customers and we answered each one of their messages full of kindness and warmth. We were able to help customers out by recommending which style of accessories would best fit them and helping them choose the right products to go well with their style or preferences. Customers would often ask about the quality of our products and we would answer them nicely with details of how we make it and what materials we use in order for our accessories to be of the best quality. Sally and I were so thrilled to see that our sales were going up every week and getting to meet new people who were also interested in such accessories we were creating.

    By the end of January, Sally and I ended up making nearly two hundred dollars in total and sold over fifty items and were so proud of ourselves to have achieved such a big accomplishment from what we had started for fun. Throughout this whole business-building experience, I also noticed a change in my attitude while dealing with many buyers as well as my goal. At the beginning of this fun little business, I was only excited about making money, but after a while, I realized I was also enjoying my time helping out customers and providing information, building a bond and connection with them, and creating what felt like a type of community around me outside of school, friends, and family. Not only did this bond increase customers, but it definitely led the majority of the customers to come back to our shop, building customer loyalty towards our business.

  6. Growing up, my wardrobe revolved primarily around four brands. During middle school, one of “my brands” was Urban Outfitters. During quarantine, my friend, Farah, and I would spend hours on FaceTime, some of the hours consisting of scrolling on Urban Outfitters and creating our dream wish lists. The wishlists consisted of many “tchotchkes.” From vests to little ring holders, the wish lists had them all. Occasionally, we would buy matching items from the sale section, like a cool-toned phone case inscribed with a dolphin decal that we got for 8% of the original price. It was safe to say we were very loyal to Urban Outfitters.

    After quarantine ended and the quantity of daily FaceTimes dropped, I started getting into sustainability. I started reading articles about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, an “island” made up of a collection of waste and debris. I definitely considered (and still consider) myself a fashionista, so at some point I started moving my research away from plastic pollution, which is also an enormous problem, to fashion pollution. I learned that fashion pollution is more than just littering; it also contributes to water waste and greenhouse gas emissions. This led me to sustainable fashion.

    At this point, my Urban Outfitters shopping came to a halt. I started to pick up on the fact that their items’ quality was usually poor, which caused me to do a deep dive into their sustainability. Then I realized that the brand that I loved the most and THOUGHT shared similar values to myself actually did not! Urban Outfitters is a prime example of “fast fashion.” Yes, this information may or may not be considered common knowledge, but to me, it was fresh and significant. I decided to sever my once-ongoing loyalty to the brand.

    Looking at my closet now, it contains primarily my old clothes and a few new pieces. The new clothes have been welcomed and curated based on my focus on sustainability and my immense dislike for fast fashion brands. The research conducted by Dr. Michael Platt, which highlights that customers who have a deeper emotional connection to a brand deliver more value to the company, resonates with me. As an “Ex-Urban Outfitters enthusiast,” I have learned to limit my emotional connections to brands that share my sustainability values. I want to present myself as sustainable, which is the point I want to get across to further inspire others. Nevertheless, reading this article, I immediately thought of my one-sided feud with Urban Outfitters. I think it is important to decipher a brand’s values before giving them loyalty. This article reminds me that when choosing brands, it is important to choose them like choosing friends—becoming loyal not just based on what the product looks like on the outside but on the core values that drive the behavior and decisions of the company to which you are loyal.

  7. In the article “Business, the Brain and Brand Loyalty”, by Diana Drake, one particular quote stuck out to me. “Some brands, like Apple, are better than others, like Samsung, at building social and emotional connections with customers.”
    I am not an Apple fan (I do not hope to offend anyone), but I feel that their products are overpriced when compared to competitors in the market which offer similar, if not higher-end services. However, unfortunately, I must agree with the statement that Apple is better at building social and emotional connections with customers. From personal experience in high school, I can see Apple users everywhere, and seldom does anyone switch out. Using user-targeted features like Gamepigeon, not only make Apple more attractive to the younger crowd, they are able to keep them as Apple users for most of their lives. Furthermore, the realization spurred from this quote provocateurs me into recalling memories of being left out of group chats or excluded because I was a mere “Android user.” Unfortunately, this sense of divide encouraged by Apple developers, just helps them retain current users, as well as peer-pressure those of my age group to become Apple Users as well. This is a point I must concede to Apple, they know how to target users and sell their product. Furthermore, I realize how they keep Apple products only usable with other Apple products, to use their social and emotional connections to encourage those to buy more IOS products than switch. I am inflamed for being called out for “having a green message bubble” in a group chat or simply being denied an opportunity to join a group chat by the simple message – “Oh, I have an Android, is that okay?”- Only to find out it wasn’t okay. This article connects to me by acknowledging Apple’s marketing and social/emotional skills when dealing with users and I can only grudgingly respect Apple for their business acumen.

  8. I’ve never really cared about neuroeconomics. To be honest, it always sounded like one of those overly difficult fields with little impact—just another buzzword in the sea of business vocabulary. The only reason I clicked on this article was because of the image that accompanied it. It caught my eye immediately: a vivid, colorful cell that had lightning protruding out of it. Sort of like the plasma ball sitting in the back of my physics classroom.

    I never thought clicking into this article could explain why I feel such a strong pull towards certain brands or why I couldn’t let go of my iPhone even when better technical options existed. I was wrong. Michael Platt and his team aren’t just theorizing; they’re diving deep into the human brain to uncover why we make the decisions we do, especially when it comes to brand loyalty. As Platt aptly puts it, “Why don’t we just go to the source of all that data, the human brain?” That simple question flipped my perception.

    Platt’s work at the Wharton Neuroscience Initiative shows that understanding the brain’s role in decision-making can revolutionize marketing and brand strategy. His research on smartphone brand loyalty revealed that Apple customers have strong emotional connections to the brand, unlike Samsung customers, who choose Samsung mainly due to their dislike for Apple. This highlights the significant impact of emotional bonds on brand loyalty. To create this bond, Platt emphasized the need to create a sense of identity and community around a brand. To do so, companies must invest in understanding the emotional and psychological triggers behind customer behavior to develop more effective brand strategies and enhance customer experiences.

    Neuroeconomics isn’t just a buzzword. It’s a powerful lens through which we can view and understand the deep emotional connections that drive our brand loyalties and business decisions. I am excited about the future of this field and its potential to reshape the business landscape. However, this also makes me scared about what strategies companies might employ and the negative impacts it may bring.

  9. Brain science is more objective and possibly more reflective of how someone feels because it doesn’t allow for biases and inaccuracies to take place unlike self reported data. A prime example of this is the Dunning-Kruger effect where when people are asked to rate their abilities, most would rate their ability to be above average. Generally people would want to do things that would benefit themselves in the easiest way to feel good about themselves such as overreporting time volunteering. Looking at brain activity can skip the biases of human judgment and gain true data to customer’s preferences. However, there are still some problems with this approach some of which come to mind are being able to fake data such as the case with lie detection devices or even being able to accurately interpret the data. Another problem would be how would they even get the data. I’d imagine that not many people would want to participate in this and the low number of participants would lead to skewed data.

    For me, I like Samsung and I share the same feelings as the Samsung customers in the article. I have a few biases against Apple such as how Apple releases new models every year by just slapping on a new number and maybe one hardware upgrade while making it a 500 dollars more, how restrictive the software is, and how iMessage just screws over photo and video files to Android users. It feels like Apple just caters to a select few people who just obsess over the brand because they’ve been caught on the bandwagon to hype up the brand and the others who are really rich. Apple’s brand strategy seems to leverage on prestige and people like being around where the prestige is. This can lead to brand loyalty and customers who have been deeply integrated into Apple don’t want to switch as there is consistency within Apple.

  10. The brain has a very clear way of expressing excitement; it sends signals, or neurotransmitters, throughout the neural pathways and throughout the body in a form that we are more familiar with, such as adrenaline, fear, etc. This concept, as Wharton Neuroscience Initiative’s founder Michael Platt asserts, is the way to really understand consumer behavior and decision-making.

    A major part of consumer behavior is brand loyalty, as the article mentioned with the example of Apple and Samsung. Apple has a massive following of consumers, and I think it is due to the social prestige that’s associated with the company. Apple products, especially their phones, are regarded with much more respect from consumers and users, whereas Samsung and Androids are often the subject of jokes or memes in our society. The stereotypes associated with Apple users versus Samsung or Android users play a significant role in this dynamic. Apple users are often perceived as wealthier or more trendy, while Samsung and Android users are sometimes unfairly labeled as less sophisticated or even annoying. These social stereotypes reinforce brand loyalty and can create a division between large corporations and smaller businesses beyond Silicon Valley.
    This perspective, rooted in popular culture, highlights how my generation evaluates and discusses these brands. For instance, memes and social media posts frequently mock the green text bubbles of Android messages, implying a lower social status compared to the blue bubbles of iPhone users. These cultural nuances push brand loyalty and shape consumer behavior significantly.

    On a positive outlook, companies like Apple have a large following because of their sense of security, establishment of trust with the customer, and hitting everyone’s values in general. They were not the first to create touchscreen phones, but they were the first to make them accessible and user friendly. This established a sense of comfort with consumers, which then bloomed into feelings of trust and security with Apple’s password features like Face ID. This also relates to apps like WhatsApp, which assure their users of encrypted messages and protected calls—a reason why it’s used across the globe.

    The ampleness of this discussion about consumer loyalty reminded me of my father, who owns a local phone repair business. A few years back, he prided himself on switching back to a Samsung phone because they had “better cameras” and were “better quality than Apple.” He quickly realized how “unfriendly” the phone was when he couldn’t FaceTime my mom or siblings as it was an Apple-only feature. The rest of our family uses Apple phones, so he felt left out in video calls. After using his Samsung for only a year or two, he was relieved to switch back to his iPhone.

    Brand loyalty can be damaging as it contributes to potentially harmful stereotypes and creates divisions. However, brand loyalty can also be a source of comfort— it assures consistency of quality products, sense of security and trust, and being reliable.

    The next question to be discussed—what can companies facing similar harmful stereotypes, such as Samsung, do to change these stereotypes to work in its favor?

    • Dr. Platt’s perspective on the brain’s role in consumer behavior highlights how deeply embedded our purchasing decisions are in our neural pathways. This biological approach underscores that our attachment to brands can be as much about emotional and psychological triggers as it is about rational choice. The neurotransmitters released in moments of excitement, fear, or satisfaction play a crucial role in shaping our preferences and brand loyalty.

      Your observation about the social prestige associated with Apple products is spot-on. The social dynamics you described, such as the memes mocking Android users and the cultural significance of iMessage’s blue and green bubbles, illustrate how brand perceptions are reinforced by popular culture. These stereotypes do create a perception of higher status for Apple users, which can significantly influence brand loyalty. The association of Apple products with wealth and trendiness, as opposed to the often negative stereotypes around Samsung and Android, perpetuates a cycle where brand preference is not just about the product’s technical merits but also about its social implications.

      Your points about trust and security are also crucial in understanding why consumers remain loyal to certain brands. Apple’s emphasis on user-friendly design, secure features like Face ID, and the overall ecosystem that seamlessly integrates various devices and services builds a strong foundation of trust with its users. Similarly, apps like WhatsApp, with their focus on encryption and privacy, gain loyalty by addressing core user values around security.

      While Samsung offers technically superior features in some aspects, like the camera, Apple’s user experience and ecosystem integration can outweigh those benefits. Your father’s experience with Apple also highlights the importance of compatibility and the emotional satisfaction derived from being part of a particular brand’s community.

      From your comment, I also found the dual nature of brand loyalty. On the one hand, brand loyalty can lead to harmful, unintended stereotypes and divisions, fostering an environment where people are judged based on their consumer choices. On the other hand, it also provides comfort, reliability, a sense of belongingness, and a sense of security. The combination of such emotional contentment allows Apple customers to feel confident in their purchasing decisions.

      While Dr. Platt’s application of neuroscience data may benefit business management, organize human resources, and take away the guesswork in business decision-making, it is necessary to recognize that neural impulses and emotional triggers do not solely drive consumer decisions. Rational considerations such as product specifications, price, functionality, and overall value play a significant role. Relying too heavily on the biological approach can oversimplify the multifaceted nature of consumer decision-making processes, which often involve a blend of rational analysis and emotional response.

      First of all, the argument that social prestige drives Apple’s success overlooks the importance of product innovation and quality. Apple has consistently delivered high-performance products with unique features that cater to consumer needs. The stereotypes surrounding Apple and Android users are more a reflection of marketing success and consumer perception management than inherent technical features. Additionally, the notion that Apple users are wealthier or trendier is a generalization that does not hold up under surveys or, according to statistics, because many Apple users choose the brand for its functionality, incompatible ecosystem, and seamless user experience rather than mainly for social prestige.

      While Apple’s emphasis on trust and security is critical to its brand loyalty, it is not the only company that prioritizes these aspects. Samsung and other Android manufacturers have made significant progress in enhancing security features and user privacy. Samsung’s Knox security platform provides robust protection for users. The notion that only Apple delivers on trust and security underestimates the advancements and offerings of competitors in the market.

      Your father’s experience well manifests an individual preference rather than a universal truth. Many users find Samsung’s features, such as camera quality and customization options, superior to Apple’s offerings. In addition, Samsung’s flip phones accommodate female users’ concerns about the weight of cell phones, adding edges and changes to conventional cell phone designs. The difficulty your father experienced with FaceTime is a key aspect of Apple’s proprietary ecosystem, which almost forcefully encourages users to stay within the Apple environment due to the incompatibility with other cell phones. This can be seen as a limitation rather than a benefit because it reduces interoperability and consumer choice, which also may have played a critical role in your father’s decision to switch back to Apple– to be able to use Facetime. A broader perspective would acknowledge that both Apple and Samsung have their strengths and cater to different user needs and preferences.

      Brand loyalty can benefit companies; however, it can stifle competition and innovation as dominant players may feel less pressure to innovate continuously. It can lead to higher prices for consumers as loyal customers are less likely to switch to more cost-effective alternatives. Encouraging consumers to be more open-minded and critical in their choices can foster a more competitive market, benefiting consumers with better products and services at lower prices and higher compatibility. For example, Apple finally changed to USB-C in 2023 when the iPhone 15 was launched. The inconvenience and extra cost of purchasing Apple’s charging cable was finally resolved. The incompatible features can promote a brand-specific ecosystem and keep users once they start to set up their device environment from iOS system, Itunes, Safari, Facetime, Apple Pay, and App Store; however, this could be a major reason why people hesitate to switch over to iPhone or Mac system if they are based on Android because it seems overwhelming to transform every device to fit Apple’s ecosystem, or vise versa. When Dr. Platt said, “The brain activity of Samsung customers suggests that they choose that brand because they don’t like Apple, not because they really love Samsung. They have very little emotional-social connection to the Samsung brand… [and] Samsung customers are going to be much more willing [to give up Samsung]” based on the neuroscience data, such a conclusion may need a more comprehensive approach because there are many users who choose Samsung not because they don’t like Apple or because Samsung is a more accessible or convenient alternative option, but because Apple is not an approachable or convenient option to choose from the beginning. According to global StatCounter, this may be a significant reason why the iPhone’s market share stays at about 20%, while Android’s market share has almost reached 80% as of 2024. This proves that the compatibility and flexibility of Android devices are critical factors contributing to the loyalty of Asian cell phone users to the Android platform than iOS, which would not be explained through neural data. The widespread adoption of Android in Asia is not merely a result of cost considerations but is deeply rooted in the operating system’s ability to integrate with a wide array of devices and services.

      While emotional and social factors certainly influence consumer behavior, a rational analysis reveals a more comprehensive and complex picture. Recognizing the strengths and weaknesses of all brands without falling into the trap of stereotypes can lead to a more informed and balanced consumer culture. Neuroscience data is significant for researching market interests and predicting consumer behaviors. However, deeper investigation must be conducted in order to understand such neural responses from consumers.

  11. The neurology behind economics is truly extraordinary. Reading up on how and what boosts consumer’s loyalty to brands really made me reflect on the choices of myself and my peers. Two years ago, I was presented with the choice of either receiving a new Apple or Samsung phone as a birthday gift. I wouldn’t say I’m a die hard Apple fan, but I still choose Apple over Samsung every time the choice is presented to me. It’s not like I’ve ever enjoyed Apple products any more than Samsung products: I’ve never set my hands on either one. However, everyone around me used Apple. Every single person. I didn’t want to be the odd one out and ended up choosing an Apple product. This is an example of what Dr. Michael Platt discusses in the article: “Some brands, like Apple, are better than others, like Samsung, at building social and emotional connections with customers. And the key to building these connections is creating a sense of identity and community.” It’s honestly not the high tech that Apples seems to have: it’s the feeling of being able to hop on the same bandwagon as everyone around me.

    My friend, on the other hand, loves his new Samsung S24 Ultra. He gets made fun of for causing the green text messages whenever he types in a group chat, but he’s also the person we all go to when we want a good picture because we know his camera is better than our Apple one. He always complains about the Apple monopoly over the smartphone industry in the United States. According to him, Samsung is so much better and useful than Apple, which leads me to think that the way Apple encourages its consumers to keep coming back really deters people from turning their backs on “the biggest brand in the industry”. However, like noted by Dr. Platt, “[Samsung customers] don’t have that strong personal, social, emotional connection with the brand.” They simply just believe that Apple doesn’t suit their requirements for a phone and turn to Samsung. My friend is just one of the outliers.

    The community that Apple has built, or monopoly, which is what it really is, is a prime example of entrepreneurs entering the market earlier and coming out on top. It was one of the first companies to start making smartphones, and is arguably the most successful in the world right now. Big competitors in the US, such as Samsung, and competitors overseas, such as Xiaomi, Oppo, and Vivo, are all introducing newer versions of their smartphones, but Apple products are still in the hands of over a quarter of smartphone users.

    A similar example is that of Nike. To people like my parents, growing up poor and not having access to America’s “luxury brands”, Nike was a brand that they never dreamed of being able to purchase. Even after immigrating to America and seeing the wide variety and choices of activewear brands, Nike still remained at the top of the mountain. Even though they were new to the country, they knew that having a pair of Jordans was cool. This craze over Nike products is still going on to this day. Every couple of summers I go back to China to visit my relatives. My cousins will always ask me to bring them a pair of Jordans back. Why? Because they are still perceived as the coolest types of shoes, which makes them extremely popular and expensive in China. It is a lot cheaper to get them here in America, so my cousins want to be able to show off their new Jordan’s while paying the American price for them.

    Both Nike and Apple created a “bandwagon” effect, forming a world where having them was considered “cool” and not possessing them was “weird.”. This only gets them more and more customers, increasing the effect of their monopoly, and decreasing chances for any competitors to challenge them.

  12. Dear Dr. Platt,
    You are wrong. I love my Samsung.

    If my ten-year-old self somehow got ahold of this article, Dr. Platt would soon be receiving this scribbled letter in his mailbox. Truly, he does make an excellent point: most people purchase Samsung because they do not like Apple. However, as a young adolescent, I didn’t care what brand I owned: what mattered was that I had an electronic device to proudly carry around. Ten-year-old me beamed as I confidently held the old hand-me-down everywhere I went.

    Dear Dr. Platt,
    You are right. I do not love my Samsung.

    My eleven-year-old self would have typed this and pressed Send on the green text message. I started to feel this way when my friends began to receive Apple devices. As they flaunted all their unique functions and much more detailed emojis, I hid my Samsung underneath the table. I now wanted to be a part of this enviable Apple community.

    Dear Dr. Platt,
    You are absolutely correct. I love my Apple.

    When I was given my new iPhone XR at the age of twelve, I smiled. I was finally on par with my peers! I relished in the smooth aluminum against my skin. I took pictures of everything, protected the phone as if it was a newborn baby, and had it on me at all times. It was my new family.

    Over the past few years, I’ve come to reflect on my Apple-craving desires. Reading this article, it became clear to me that Dr. Platt’s experiment provided a parallel to my own experience. Apple connects with their customers and maintains a loyalty that gives them reason to stand so close to the company. This then influences more and more people to recommend the brand and thus create such a strong and willing community. From first hand experience, I desperately wanted those unique functions and detailed emojis. The Samsung belonged to me initially, not because I particularly loved it, but because it was given to me. Dr. Platt addresses this aspect as he concludes that brand loyalty follows a neurological path. If a business has an identity and creates a sense of community, it is more likely for one to be glued to it. However, I do want to address an uncontrolled variable within Dr. Platt’s experiment. Many users are also tied to a brand when the majority follows it. In other words, if the brand is popular, it is more likely that a greater amount of people will jump on the bandwagon. The only reason I really wanted an Apple was because my friends all had one. So though many people do sincerely love their Memoji’s, face ID, and Apple Pay, this might just be because 2.2 billion other people have them too (recorded active Apple devices as of June 2024).


    I am awoken by the familiar sound of my iPhone 11’s alarm. Drowsily, I take my right arm out of my blanket and tap the orange “Stop” button at the center of the screen. After squeezing in a few more minutes of shut-eye, I finally rise from my bed to shower. In there, I wash myself with a Dove soap bar. Then, I put on my clothes for the day: a white T-shirt and a pair of Adidas pants. After making my way to the kitchen, I grab a cup of Chobani yogurt and a banana for breakfast. Finally, before beginning my day, I grab my Crest toothbrush and, using Crest toothpaste, brush my teeth.

    That, more or less, is my morning routine, and as I read Dr. Platt’s point about the importance for companies to build social and emotional bonds between their customers and their brands, I couldn’t help but notice the apparent loyalty I harbor with products I often use during the morning. I’ve always been an iPhone user. I’ve always preferred Dove soap. I’ve always had a pair of Adidas pants in my wardrobe. I’ve always eaten and preferred Chobani yogurt. And I’ve always preferred Crest toothbrushes and toothpaste.

    Now, if I were to describe my connection with these brands, “social” and “emotional” wouldn’t be my first words. And no, I wouldn’t consider Dove soap to be part of my identity, nor would I consider myself to be a part of the Chobani yogurt community. After all, I recognize that these brands are not one-of-a-kind and that there are plenty of alternatives. I am well aware that iPhones allow for far less customization than Androids. I am well aware that Dove soap has a lot of chemicals whose names I cannot pronounce. I am well aware of the fact that there is no significant difference between Adidas pants or Chobani yogurt and the plethora of options in both industries. I am well aware of the fact that Crest toothbrushes and toothpaste don’t clean my teeth any better than any other brand of oral care products.

    However, when I reflect on why I choose to use these particular brands, the reason is often simple. My first electronic device was an iPad, and my first phone was an iPhone. And whenever I use an Android phone, it’s like I’ve never seen an electronic device before. The UI is different, and it takes me a while to adjust. Sure, I could learn the UI of Android devices. Still, I have no issues with Apple’s devices and since I’m already accustomed to their UI, there’s no point in switching. As for Dove soap, the reason why I regularly use it is slightly different, yet still quite simple. One of my pet peeves is running out of something right when I am about to use it. I am annoyed when I squeeze a bottle of lotion, only for nothing to come out. I am irritated when I pour a jug of milk, only for a few drops to come out. I am irked when I push a soap dispenser only to hear the crackling sound of soap bubbles, not the silky sound of soap. However, whenever the latter occurred, my parents’ stash of Dove soap bars always came in handy. And over time, these trusty soap bars became my preferred soap.

    When I hear “identity” and “community,” I think of defining characteristics. I think of ethnicity, family, hobbies, personalities, etc. By these definitions, I wouldn’t identify with any particular brand, nor am I a part of any brand’s community. But is one’s identity limited to broad attributes? How significant does something have to be to become a part of one’s identity? Perhaps one’s identity can be as little as the yogurt they like. And maybe communities can be formed from things as small as the toothpaste one uses.

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