Merchant, Altaf; LaTour, Kathryn A.; Ford, John B.; LaTour, Michael S.
Developing a brand icon has been a way for marketers to humanize and forge relationships with consumers. Icon development takes time. During this time, marketers have to face how much they stay true and consistent with their icons and how much they allow their icons to adapt to cultural changes in the marketplace. Little is known about how consumers respond to changing icons, and even less is known about whether there may be certain consumer groups that are more or less receptive to such changes. Four experiments and qualitative interviews were undertaken to gain insights into these issues. People who have a low need to belong were most impacted by changes in the icon, with effects most evident among consumers with a fearful attachment style. Feelings of rejection were found to amplify these effects. These findings have implications both for theory and practice.