Brand Management – ​​“Rewarding Perks”: Why Consumers Love Brands That Make Them Feel Like Good People

Frye Company, the famous manufacturer of handcrafted boots and leather goods made in the United States, has developed a brilliant product that speaks volumes about its brand identity.

As more and more Americans forgo plastic and instead use canvas bags to carry food, clothes, yoga mats and more, Frye is putting his own distinctive stamp on the trend with a tote in leather.

And not just any leather tote. The new product, called Harvest, is made from surplus leather, and only a limited number will be made; in addition, for each bag sold, the company will donate a portion of the sales to Feeding America, a charity organization fighting hunger in America. The bag is available in multiple colors to match shoppers wardrobe and lifestyle.

We have long known Frye as a company that sells high quality boots with strong utility value. In our parlance, we’d say the brand offers “strong enabling benefits” (more on that in a minute). And because the boots are often both comfortable and stylish, it gives them a strong quality of experience (what we call “attractive benefits”). So what makes this decision to make a tote so brilliant?

Frye’s decision highlights what many brands often lack: the ability to deliver benefits that enrich and inspire customers.

Our research reveals that people fall more in love with brands that offer three distinct benefits, what we call the 3 Es:

  • Enabling Benefits: They produce a great product that solves customer problems. That’s exactly what Frye boots do: they can be worn as easily in the woods as they are on 5th Avenue. Although they are not the cheapest boots on the market, they are known for their high quality construction which makes them last a long time. Consumers trust a brand that solves their problems using the limited resources they have (time, money, effort).
  • Tempting benefits: They create products that appeal to the senses, thoughts or emotions of consumers. Frye is a prime example in this regard. Its products are soft to the touch and pleasant to wear. They come in rich colors and their simple style is aesthetically pleasing, allowing them to coordinate well with many outfits. Consumers love brands that offer these attractive benefits.
  • Rewarding Benefits: They make people feel good about themselves as people. Our research reveals that what sets good brands apart from great ones is the great brand’s ability to do just that: make people feel good about themselves. These “rewarding” benefits are less common in brands, and their presence can be a powerful motivator for buying a brand. Brands with rewarding benefits inspire their customers. Additionally, consumers respect brands that make them feel good about themselves as people.

It’s that last point that makes Frye’s marketing moves so smart, so let’s take a closer look at the results:

  • First, by purchasing the brand, consumers can feel they are supporting companies that place value on the Earth’s scarce resources. Rather than being made from new leather, this product uses scrap leather. Buyers can feel more virtuous knowing that they are contributing, in some way, to the preservation of our planet’s resources.
  • Second, by purchasing Harvest, consumers can feel good about themselves because they are making a positive contribution to a national social problem: hunger in America. By purchasing the tote bag, consumers can signal to themselves and others that they are caring, compassionate people who want to see an end to human suffering.
  • Third, because a limited number of bags will be made, consumers buying the bag will feel distinctive. They are part of a special group that has managed to buy a valuable, but rare commodity. Indeed, the fact that the product is in limited quantity makes its possession all the more valuable. The exclusivity of the bag makes the buyer a member of a particular class of people.
  • Fourth, using the bag can powerfully communicate to others who you are and what you value. By using a Frye Harvest tote, consumers communicate that they are a certain type of person who wants to help make the world a better place.

What does this marketing approach do for the Frye brand? It expands brand identity and relevance.

Frye is not just a company that makes quality and beautiful leather goods (attractive and empowering benefits); it’s a company that does good in the world and makes people feel good about themselves (rewarding benefits) because it’s a company that cares as much about profits as it does about making the world a better place. As a result, consumers not only trust and love the brand, but also respect it for its consistency with consumer values, what it can do for them (gain status, provide distinctiveness) and how it can improve society.

We find that rewarding perks have a strong influence on how much consumers admire a brand. Benefits like these inspire consumers, spur them to action, and build brand loyalty.

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Learn more about brand admiration, its drivers, and the massive benefits that accrue to companies that focus on building brand admiration in our latest book: Brand Admiration: Building a business that people love.

Cathy W. Howerton