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Ninth Law of Branding (Reciprocation Process)

(1) Either the manufacturer of the Branded product or the Branded product itself reciprocates for the buyer

(2) The buyer reciprocates (for free samples, gifts) by buying the Branded product

When you buy a Branded product, you are influenced in the buying process. The Psychology of Branding is about these influences. I like the book that Dr. Robert B. Cialdini has written on the subject of influence. His book called "Influence" sheds some light into this process.

In his book, Dr. Cialdini discusses psychological principles that influences the tendency to comply. We believe such principles could also apply in situations when you buy a Branded product. Reciprocation is one of them.

Mark Parisi Off the Mark Cartoons

(Rule 1) = A unique property of human culture is the appreciation for the sense of gratitude


Most Brands use this rule to its most power. GM's Saturn branch invites its fans to camps, fun parties and sharing experiences with their beloved cars.

Marketing promotions relish the power of gratitude as indebting force inherent in a gift while innocently appearing to have only the intention to inform. Tide recently added the power of Downey to its boxes and liquid. Now, if they stopped, wouldn't you or aren't you hooked on Downey? I have to say I tried it and it really works; no wrinkle..



The power of consistency as to persuade human behavior as motivator is well understood and researched by prominent early theorist such as Leon Festinger (1957).

Consistency is a valued quality. People don't like inconsistent people. High degree of consistency is associated with personal and intellectual strengths. Unfortunately the Branded product manufacturer use them in an unethical ways.

The best example of consistency as a selling motivator is what the toy manufacturers used to practice (may be even now) in the times of Seasonal Holidays. Most Branded Toy manufacturers suffer from lack of sales after holidays. They have tried almost everything to remedy the off season sales slump by reducing prices and other unsuccessful methods. Nothing worked.

Their unethical use of consistency as a powerful motivator was to run advertising for a popular toy that they planned to under produce. As parents took their kids to buy toys, they promised them to buy the sold out toy later when it will be available and they should just be happy with what is there. The toy manufacturer never lost sales in peak seasons and as parents promised kids, they sold more expensive toys in off season.

Parents' Promise is Consistency.

(Rule 1) = Brands get your commitment and/or your written declaration

Testimonial contests by Proctor & Gamble or General Food are another example. Contestants compose a short personal written testimonial that most often begins with, "I like the product because..........."

Proctor & Gamble judges the entries and award prizes based on who wrote the most appealing or compelling testimonial. Endorsements are another form of consistency.

Some Branded Car Manufacturers or car dealerships use consistency in another form. The car dealership sales people first get you to commit to a car based on a very attractive price. You fill all the forms, all the commitment papers, and all of a sudden something does not go through. You can not buy the car. You have already make the commitment and you are emotionally hooked to this dealership. The sales person is hoping that you will eventually buy the same car or another one with the more realistic price since the consistency or emotional commitment is applied.


Dr, Cialdini discusses several other principles which we like to discuss briefly with their application to marketing.


Social Proof ; Social Evidence

We accept what is correct by approving and finding what other people think is correct. Brands that are fast growing use this principle to their best advantage. They advertise the product as best selling to inform us that others believe the same and that is sufficient proof. This principle is most effective under two conditions:

1) When people are uncertain, they are more likely to use others' behaviors and actions to decide how they themselves should act.

2) Similarity; this principle operates better when we are observing or imitating the behavior of others who happen to be more just like us.

Examples of Brands using this principle is increasing number of average-person-on-the-street testimonials on TV advertising. This is to show how other people like you and I are using the same product.



Tupperware home parties arranges for the customers to buy from friends rather than strangers or unknown sales persons. Funny when I was reading this, I happen to think of affiliate selling on Internet. How many times we have bought from an affiliate seller on Internet whose website we liked? Statistics has it that a Tupperware party starts somewhere every 2.7 seconds.



Who remembers the highly successful Robert Young Sanka commercial. Pharmaceutical companies use this principles to their best advantage.


Car manufacturer use this principle when they introduce limited edition Mustang or Cadillac.

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