Koll and Kreuzer discuss two reasons for low brand association stability: (1) method (comparing feature lists and free associations) and (2) context.
The nature of feature lists neglect the core idea of branding which calls for the creation of unique brand-specific associations in order to achieve differentiation. Furthermore associations may be context-dependent assuming the common reply („it depends upon the situation“) when being asked for certain issues, behaviors or decisions.
Based on the empirical study, Koll and Kreuzer propose three recommendations:
- It is important to understand which types of associations are temporarily and permanently elicited in different contexts
- Stability levels of free associations are lower but the breadth of associations elicited allows a better understanding of unique (and potentially enduring) brand associations
- Investigating differences in associations between consumer segments (regional, socio-economic, brand patronage, brand attitude and brand attachments) may provide the foundation to better reach so far untapped consumer segments
Oliver Koll, Maria Kreuzer (2011). Low stability of brand associations: are method and context to blame?, AMA Winter Educators’ Conference Proceedings.