There has been some debate at The Box recently, and despite being quite a non-confrontational person, this is a debate in which I am fully entrenched. I am what some may call a ‘late bloomer’ when it comes to matters involving automobiles. I have never had my license, have only recently been granted my L plates, and to be quite honest, if it wasn’t for the bitterly cold Busselton winter mornings, I would be quite happy to ride my trusty bicycle everywhere. I have decided though that the time has come for me to join the ranks as a fully qualified gas guzzler, and as such I will be purchasing a car in the very near future.

Herein lies the seeds of office debate. Limiting the amount I wish to spend on a car, and having a very clear idea of which conveniences my car must be equipped with, I have decided I will purchase a second-hand, post-2000 VW Golf. The opinion in the office is split. “Why?” cry half, “You can get a brand new Daihatsu/Kia/Hyundai for that price! And it will have more extras! And it will come with a five year warranty!” and on it goes as my eyes glaze over as I dream about darting around town in my fabulous VW. I appreciate that my team mates opinion is valid (and, though I wouldn’t tell them, dead right) but no matter how much debate I am embroiled in they will never convince me to give up my dream of owning a lovely little VW Golf.

This mind set must puzzle a few people, but I am fully aware of why I want, no – need, this particular car so much, and business owners would be wise to understand their customers level of emotional connection with their products. There are many, many different theories of how emotion motivates behaviour, but one thing all the motivational psychologist experts agree on is that the event/brand/encounter which we wish the consumer to react to must first draw their attention and relate to them. Perguni and Bagozzi (2001) assert that behaviour is inherently goal directed, that is, we are actively operating to satisfy a need. That said, it is also true that we feel no emotions in response to stimuli (material or otherwise) which we perceive as unimportant or unrelated to us.

So, up until a short time ago I had no need to notice advertising for motor vehicles, because I was satisfied with an alternative form of transport. Now that the need has been made explicit, suddenly I am sitting up and taking notice. It is worth noting at this stage that though these responses are largely unconscious, I have been surprised at my level of emotional connectivity with a brand with which I have had limited exposure (or so I thought). Somewhere along the line the VW marketers have got it right. They have built an image of a brand which, for me, is highly desirable. They have marketed an ideal, not just a product and I have reacted to that, slowly building brand loyalty over all these years to get to a stage, that now I am in the market for a car, only a VW will do.