Sunday, February 5, 2012

Coles and Heider's Balance Theory

Dan Beeston, 30 something, one half of Smart Enough to Know Better recently announced that Justin Bieber: Never Say Never had him grinning with delight in the back of a 737 with tears running down his face. He tweeted this morning that he was left disappointed that people thought less of him after reading his post and I responded with what marketing geekery I could fit into Twitter's 140 character limit. A random stranger congratulated me on my comment and posed the intriguing question: how would this mean for Coles, Curtis Stone and fresh food price wars. So interested in the dark arts? Let's find out about Heider's Balance Theory:

Developed by Psychologist, Fritz Heider in 1958, Balance Theory proposes that three factors shape our attitudes towards a product or service and these are:

  • likes and dislikes,
  • the shared values and opinions of a group and
  • the relationship between individuals (Carson, Carson, Knouse & Roe, 1997, p102).

Furthermore Heider also believed that it is human nature to attempt to reduce emotional discomfort or imbalance caused by social interactions through self persuasion (Hummon & Doreian, 2002, p18-20). Examples of this might be:

  • Two individuals find a product/service they dislike and as a result their bond is strengthened.

  • An individual initially dislikes a newly released product but their favourite celebrity endorses the product, the individual may alter their attitude to a more favourable view in order to emulate the celebrity they admire.

  • However the reduction of discomfort or imbalance can also have negative effects for example if a celebrity’s brand isn't strong enough to combat the negativity of the consumer brand, the result would be damage incurred to the celebrity's brand. Celebrities must be wary of this fact as to the public they too are a brand and while the values may fit initially the world of a celebrity is always evolving at a rapid rate (Hummon & Doreian, 2002, p18-20).

It would be easy to assume that dashing chef and Coles poster boy, Curtis Stone's brand would have been damaged by the $10 feed a family campaign and even more irritating down down TVCs, but the decision of where we purchase our groceries is not merely made by the face. We're not going to shop at a Woolworths further down the road simply because Margaret Fulton is wooing us with a luscious pavlova. When it comes to fast moving consumer goods, we'll shop where it's convenient. So Coles, Woolworths, Curtis Stone and Margaret Fulton will probably keep tap dancing on our screens while the consumer looks on apathetically. It's going to take something a lot bigger like solving world hunger or every local manager molesting the neighbourhood children to radically change the behaviour of the shopper. So you're safe Curtis, carry on making the big bickies.


Carson, P., Carson, K., Knouse, S., & Roe, C. (1997). Balance Theory applied to Service Quality: A focus on the organisation, provider, and consumer triad. Journal of Business and Psychology. 12(2), 99-120. Retrieved December 12, 2010 from Springerlink Contemporary.

Hummon, N., & Doreian, P. (2002). Some dynamics of social balance processes: bring Heider back into balance theory. Social Networks 25(1), 17-49. Retrieved December 31, 2010 from ScienceDirect.

No comments:

Post a Comment