Consumers seek out brands whose benefits provide resources that enable, entice, and enrich the self C.W. Park notes. Enabling benefits to enhance feelings of competence and self-efficacy by solving consumers’ problems and making their lives easier. Enticing benefits please consumers’ senses, minds, or hearts and provide experiential and hedonic gratification. Enriching benefits capture the brand’s ability to represent or express an ideal past, present, or future self-identity, thereby enhancing self-esteem.
According to C.W. Park, who was the director of Global Branding Center before he retired in 2021, the extent to which the brand can simultaneously enable, entice and enrich consumers enhances brand attachment (vs. brand aversion) and positively predicts brand loyal behaviors. One of the most significant contributions of his work with his collaborators, Debbie MacInnis and Andreas Eisingerich, is that among the three types of benefits, called the 3 Es, enriching benefits showed the strongest contribution to brand attachment and brand loyal behaviors by augmenting their sense of “self.”
C.W. Park explains that there are two ways in which enriching benefits can augment the sense of self
(1) by reflecting personal beliefs and hopes, or what might be called “internal self-enhancement,” and (2) by fostering belongingness and distinctiveness, or what might be called “external self-enhancement.”
Enriching by reflecting on personal beliefs and hopes.
One’s sense of self is, in part, affected by the extent to which individuals think they are acting in belief (value)-consistent ways that also align with what is good, right, moral, and just. We all want to feel that we are good people and that we are contributing to something larger than ourselves. Consumers feel true to themselves (authentic) and have a sense of self-respect when the brands they buy and use have principles that converge with their own (brand-self-identification). They become more committed to such brands and are more likely to develop attachments to such brands.
Enriching by fostering belongingness and distinctiveness.
C.W. Park continues to explain that consumers’ self-esteem is also impacted by the extent to which they feel accepted by others and are part of a group. They want to feel like they belong to a family, group, or community that accepts them. Feelings of belongingness and connectedness to others provide meaning to life and enhance self-esteem and well-being. Beyond the desire for belongingness, consumers also have the external desire to signal their unique and special identity to others. People would like to believe that others evaluate and look up to them for who they are (e.g., their style, their independent minds, their beauty or their knowledge) or what they have accomplished (e.g., their wealth, professional successes, musical talents, athletic accomplishments).
C.W. Park and his collaborators claim that enriching benefits had the strongest effect in predicting brand attachment and brand loyal behaviors. Below, they identify several potential explanations.
Consumers may expect little more of a brand than its ability to adequately perform product functions in a pleasing fashion. Whereas the lack of enriching benefits may not be a source of major disappointment, their presence might delight consumers, making their impact stronger.
Moreover, C.W. Park mentions the extent to which enriching benefits expand the self by bolstering one’s identity and fostering identity expression to others. They can more effectively create brand-self connections and influence consumers’ sense of the brand as part of the self. The fact that enriching benefits expand the self by bolstering one’s identity and fostering identity expression to others means that they may have the greatest impact on reducing the distance between the brand and the self. Switching to other brands might be difficult because the brand’s enriching benefits speak to consumers’ sense of identity and the values they hold.
Life challenge perspective.
Individuals’ self-concepts and self-esteem are frequently challenged in daily life. Such challenges to one’s identity are psychologically threatening. The media (e.g., images of the good life) and life experiences (e.g., stepping on the scale to find one is overweight) frequently remind consumers they are not the people they aspire to be. Moreover, consumers often find themselves behaving in value-inconsistent ways (e.g., using disposable diapers even though one values being “green”). They might feel left out of groups to which they wish to belong or feel that there is nothing that makes them distinctive and special. Thus, consumers may be highly sensitive to enriching benefits.