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Do brands benefit consumers?



Publishing details

Centre for Marketing Working Paper

Authors / Editors

Ambler T

Publication Year



Brands benefit their owners but this paper explores brands from the consumer's point of view. Brands benefit consumers in three principal ways: they provide economic value for money, they provide functionality in developing the requisite quality of products to solve consumer problems and they provide psychological satisfaction. Thus functional benefits are intrinsic to the brand and its component products, psychological benefits are in the mind of the consumer and economic benefits relate to the exchange transaction. Brands are diverse, offering different benefits in different ways to different consumers at different times. Any aggregation of brand (dis)benefits, therefore, needs to be treated with caution. The picture is not wholly positive and consumer concerns with branding need to be factored in. The defence is the marketplace itself: consumers are free to choose. Retailer brands meets the demand, where it exists, for alternatives to manufacturer brands. Some consumers are undoubtedly confused some of the time but branding is a long-term investment. Manufacturer brand leaders fifty years ago are brand leaders today. They would not exist at all if enough consumers did not continue to buy them. This paper considers these consumer concerns alongside the arguments for brands except for the last (values) which is outside its scope. In general, the economic case today is secure even though earlier economists considered brands to restrict competition. The bottom line of any remaining concern is whether consumers are satisfied that brands provide value for money. If we consumers feel satisfied, then we are satisfied. Consumerists are entitled to tell us that we should not be and, in a free economy, marketers are entitled to promote their wares. Ultimately, however, judgement belongs to us. General consumer satisfaction with brands' value for money is nonetheless an inference drawn from the literature and analysis. Similarly, functional and psychological benefits appear to outweigh disbenefits but empirical research is needed to establish the extent of consumer (dis)satisfactions. Questions are framed for further research.

Publication Research Centre

Centre for Marketing

Series Number



Centre for Marketing Working Paper

Available on ECCH


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