Purpose – To examine an atypical member of the brand family, “difficult” brands, defined as brands that have intermittent availability, and have inherent performance risks, that, contrary to traditional marketing teachings, may have a positive influence on consumer evaluation and brand loyalty. Findings – Through an examination of the underlying social and psychological reasons that consumers might be attracted to difficult brands, an alternative approach to the marketing of these types of brands might be warranted. Practical implications – The conceptualisation of difficult brands provides marketers with a means to identify potential antecedents to brand bonding under atypical marketing conditions. Originality/value – Suggests how researchers, and marketing practitioners might go about understanding the nature of the bond that consumers form with these types of brands, and therefore, how they can take advantage of consumers' desire to develop a relationship with a difficult brand.
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