Index weighs consumer attachment to brands

— -- What do American Airlines and the new fall television show Charlie's Angels have in common? Apparently, a large number of consumers who love them both.

So say the findings of a 2011 television program study by NewMediaMetrics, a strategic marketing and analytics company, which has developed an index that measures the level of emotional attachment consumers have to different brands — and how that mirrors their connections to media, ranging from magazines to mobile phones.

A look at airlines and the new fall TV lineup reveals that 33.8% of those who felt a strong attachment to American Airlines had similarly strong feelings for ABC's updated take on the 1970s viewers' favorite with Farrah Fawcett. Among Delta's biggest fans, 35.2% felt equally strong about the CBS drama Unforgettable. And 35.5% of those who most loved JetBlue were also strongly drawn to the Fox series New Girl.

The information can help companies figure out the best media in which to place their ads, either to boost sales to customers who already feel a strong bond, or to woo those whose feelings aren't as intense, says Gary Reisman, NewMediaMetrics' co-founder.

"If you're attached, you are loyal," Reisman says. The company's index, using a scale of 0 to 10, has measured emotional connection to hundreds of brands in the past six years.

"If we target … the people attached to the brand and attached to the (TV) program, those individuals are three times as likely to consider buying and using the brand."

Similarly, those consumers who are slightly less attached to a carrier might be swayed if the airline's ads target shows they are more passionate about.

Stacey Frantz, a spokeswoman for American Airlines, says having an emotional link to passengers is key to customer loyalty. "We are always interested in where our customers are connecting emotionally," Frantz says. "In fact, it's one of the key barometers by which we measure the success of our advertising concepts."

While the airline hasn't used NewMediaMetrics' research, it has conducted its own.

"We leverage a significant amount of customer research to make decisions like this about where our customers are best connecting emotionally as it relates to our brand," Frantz says.

The TV study also looked at other travel companies. The new ABC show Revenge, for instance, was popular with many who felt most attached to online travel sites Expedia, Travelocity and Many who felt a strong connection to Hilton hotels had similar feelings for the new show Person of Interest on CBS.