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Fear Boosts Brand Loyalty

Update Date: Feb 06, 2014 04:53 PM EST

Want to keep customers coming back? Scare them. A new study reveals that fear enhances brand loyalty.

Researchers found that consumers prefer products like Coca Cola for comfort when watching scary movies on their own.

The latest findings go against industry norms, according to researchers who say that there are significantly fewer product placements in horror films compared to other genres.

"People cope with fear by bonding with other people. When watching a scary movie they look at each other and say 'Oh my god!' and their connection is enhanced," Lea Dunn of University of British Columbia said in a news release. "But, in the absence of friends, our study shows consumers will create heightened emotional attachment with a brand that happens to be on hand."

The findings revealed that consumers who feel scared while watching a film feel a greater affiliation with a present brand than those who watch movies that make them feel happy, sad or excited.

The study also found that fear causes people to report greater brand attachment, even if they are limited to just seeing the product. Researchers noted that timing was extremely important. The findings revealed that enhanced feelings toward the brand were only generated if it was felt at the same time as fear.

"Marketers are afraid of fear. Their worries about negative associations outweigh their desire to tap into the massive market commanded by fear-based entertainment such as horror films or video games," said Dunn. "But our study shows advertisers should consider offering up their brands as something to cling to in the dark when the knives come out and the blood starts to splatter."

The findings are published in the Journal of Consumer Research.

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