Building a compelling underdog consumption experience

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© 2020 Small Business Institute®. While recognizing the marketing potential of a company’s underdog status, existing research on underdog businesses has typically focused on how to effectively communicate about the underdog story. This study departs from prior research by formulating a theoretical framework to guide managers on systematically building and strengthening the underdog consumption experience as well as commu-nicating about it. Recent research on motivational bases of consumers’ underdog affection shows that drivers for underdog affection are much more than empathy and they also include feelings of dissatisfaction with dominant industry players, need for market balance maintenance, desire to be different and need for unique consumption experiences, admiration for perseverance, hope for hard-earned triumphs, and extension of oneself also as an underdog. Guided by the contingency framework of strategic decision-making, we apply the above notable findings to key areas of a company’s marketing strategy, specifically translating the motivational bases identified in existing research into pertinent company actions, which will in turn generate rewarding customer benefits. By formulating a series of innovative perspectives to guide underdog businesses on building as well as selling a compelling underdog consumption experience, this current article represents a significant addition to past research on underdog businesses.

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