help people identify and connect

193,000 members and climbing

This is the twelfth of 20 daily THOUGHTS examining emotions in marketing.

Manchester United has won some 20 titles and is the most successful club in the UK Premier League. Its membership is rapidly approaching 200,000 people. Interestingly, very few of these people regularly attend games.

So, why would someone with no intention of attending a game pay the membership fee?

They pay the fee for the same reason others pay to be a member of the Dodgers Baseball Club in the United States, the Collingwood Football Club in Melbourne or the Wildcats Basketball Club in Perth. They pay because they identify with the club and want to feel connected with it.

Human beings have a basic, and not so irrational, need to belong. Identification and connection are fundamental to establishing a sense of belonging. Further, this basic need is as common in the purchase of goods and services as it is in any other sphere of life.

Consumers are more likely to enter a business where they think they will feel comfortable. They are more likely to buy from a business they identify with and repeat purchase from a business or staff with whom they feel a connection.

Identifying and connecting have the effect of building trust. This, in turn, impacts conversion rates, average sale, repeat purchase, and referral. This all highlights one of the big 6 factors that influence purchase behaviour – the need to connect.

This being the case, it is concerning that few businesses purposefully go about the process of creating an environment and training staff in a way that will make customers identify and connect.

In the 1980s Roy Spence wrote a book entitled ‘It is not what you sell but what you stand for’. He highlighted the importance of connection to human beings and how critical shared values are in creating a connection.

This being the case, it is concerning how few businesses ensure that their values are consistent with the values of their customers and that every staff member reflects those values in their behaviour and in every customer interaction.

Creating a sense of identification and connection is a clear priority for businesses like Ikea, Apple and Zara. Unfortunately, however, it seems to be given little, if any, attention by the majority of Australian businesses.

Identification and connection are often more important for a service than for a good. They are almost certainly more important for larger purchases than small and for personal products than hygiene purchases.


Seek to ensure that your customers identify and connect with your business. This will drive conversion rates and increase the average sale per customer, repeat business, and referrals. It can be particularly potent with regards to referral.

Building identification and connection builds trust. It is influenced by values – and the degree to which customers perceive that you share their values.


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