In a recent discussion with a client about why people buy his company's product and the implications for the brand, he had a "eureka" moment. He became animated and blurted out: "The 'why' is the brand!" All I could say was "exactly," as he so succinctly and eloquently expressed what I had been saying.
The promise implicit in the relationship between the brand and the consumer is why people buy. The promise includes the fantasies they have about the brand, the wishes they want fulfilled, and the way the brand enhances their quality of life. The brand must satisfy the promise, and if you as a brand manager and marketer do not really understand the promise encompassed in why people buy, then you are destined to fall short of their desires. The why is the contract with the consumer—the agreement that binds the brand with the consumer. If you do not in-timately understand why people buy your brand, then it is only hit or miss that the brand will connect with the consumer.
The promise implicit in the relationship between the brand and the consumer is why people buy.
In all the research and planning that the Coca-Cola Company did in developing New Coke, it apparently never researched why people buy Coke. Rather, it assumed it had something to do with consumers' thirst and their taste preferences. It conducted tactical research about what combinations of flavors were in tune with consumers because Coca-Cola executives thought that people bought Coke because of the taste. They learned that even when they got the taste formula aligned with consumers' preferences in blind taste tests, they got it dead wrong as a brand. People drink Coke because it links them with happy memories of their childhood and recalls the lovely fantasies Coke commercials have spawned over the years. Consumers have a deep love of the brand and buy what the brand promises and the fantasies it fulfills, not just flavored soda water. That is the magic of a brand, and the foundation of that magic comes with understanding why people buy.