How brands try to win consumers’ love rather than just their loyalty

Our take: Read what a group of influential startups are doing to take the deepen the concept of brand affinity to a new level... | ----------------

Gone are the days when the only goal of a company was to persuade you to buy its product. Now, making you feel kinship with a brand—even love—takes precedence. At least, that’s what a group of influential startups believe.

Eyewear maker Warby Parker (No. 174 in the Internet Retailer Top 1000), makeup seller Glossier Inc. (No. 175), mattress retailer Casper (No. 132)—all of these companies are “direct-to-consumer” brands largely born on the internet.

Sure, advertising has been about identity since before there was a Marlboro man.

But these “digital native” retailers, known for indulgent niche products at accessible prices, have given an entirely new meaning to the phrase “brand affinity.”

From luggage-seller Away inviting customers to walk through a pretend airport security line to Seamless using its own data for a cute subway ad campaign (a Bronx neighborhood was deemed least ideal for “making out” because residents order the most garlic bread), digital native brands have created a new algorithm.

The traditional buy-sell model doesn’t fly anymore, said Americus Reed, a marketing professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School.

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