Picture the Jamaican bobsled team going for the gold at the Winter Olympics. Or competitors in what seem fundamentally unbalanced battles: the Chicago Cubs versus the New York Yankees, Apple versus Microsoft, and Southwest Airlines versus United.
In the public eye, the weaker party is often more attractive. Why?
The reason might be an increasing willingness on the part of consumers to identify with the underdog. In today’s economically difficult times, it appears, underdog brands are gaining psychological, and real, power in the marketplace.
A forthcoming article coauthored by Keinan for the Journal of Consumer Research, “The Underdog Effect: The Marketing of Disadvantage and Determination through Brand Biography,” details her joint research about the trend and its implications for brand management. Keinan, an assistant professor in the Marketing Unit at Harvard Business School whose research on consumer behavior has been published in leading marketing and psychology journals, coauthored the article with Neeru Paharia, Jill Avery, and Juliet B. Schor.
Says Keinan, “Through a series of experiments, we show that underdog brand biographies are effective in the marketplace because consumers identify with the disadvantaged position of the underdog and share their passion and determination to succeed when the odds are against them.”
To read the full article by Anat Keinan on the Harvard Business School Website CLICK HERE.