Delayed Gratification in branding

2021.07.22 / Viewpoint

Delayed Gratification in Branding


What is delayed gratification?


Delay of gratification, is the act of resisting an impulse to take an immediately available reward in the hope of obtaining a more-valued reward in the future. The ability to delay gratification is essential to self-regulation, or self-control.


There is a well-known experiment led by American psychologist Walter Mischel during the 1960s, called the Marshmallow test.It is a psychological experiment that works upon the principles of self-control. A child is given the option to either immediately receiving a treat (such as marshmallows, cookies, or chocolate), or to wait the estimate of 15 minutes for the experimenter to return where the child can receive double the treat originally offered. The experiment follows up years later to these children who participated within the experiment, and it is shown that those who were able to delay their gratification the longest, were more successful in their studies, maintaining friendships, and resolving major challenges.

People are becoming more and more impatient in today's time, and they pursue the idea of instant satisfaction. They want to see results as soon as they put in small amounts of work. Therefore, all kinds of advertisements emphasize fast and effective methods for things such as exercise, cosmetics; and all kinds of projects that boast about fast money making strategies become very popular. In the competitive tea drinks market, the large amount of capital investment is a direct example. Each brand invests a lot of money into marketing and manufacturing topics, hoping to quickly become an internet sensation, giving consumers more and stronger stimulation, persuading people to consume in order to receive instant profit return.


Positioning theory puts forward the idea that a brand should occupy the consumers' mind as being number one in a particular category, the best out of all competition. The competition between HEYTEA and Mixuefor example, is essentially the competition between fresh tea, milk, fruit and traditional tea drinks blended with powder and concentrated liquid mass produced at low prices. The competition between Moutai and Wuliangye is essentially the competition between traditional Maotai flavored Baijiu and modern Luzhou flavored baijiu. When people are in the process of decision-making, they will choose the brand they like and identify with among many brands from the same category. For example, when you stand with your friends in front of a convenience store freezer with a variety of drinkoptions in front of your eyes, you will first face the choices of mineral water, bubble water, green tea, black tea, coke, coffee, juice, beer and other different categories. When you decide to buy a certain item, you usually think of the brand representing that category. For example, when you ask a friend what kind of drink he wants to buy, he wouldn’t answer "European premium beer" but rather the more directHeineken".

The purpose of marketing is not to make a brand, but to create a category using differentiated mental cognition, to become the dominant category. The rapid expansion and growth of new categories is the driving force for the long-term development of brands. To seize the mental highland, we need to constantly deepen the single point of cognition, but to be a truly successful brand, we need patience and hard work.


If marketing is the pursuit of instant satisfaction, then brand should have the ability to delay gratification. To be a brand, we need to adhere to two keys.


First, focus on the long-term:


Successful brand relies on accumulation, and is the result of experience. The product needs to have its own characteristics and technology. Then, only by seizing the opportunity and good fit point in marketing can brand assets be continuously produced.  


Second, think from the perspective of users:

Nowadays users change very fast, especially in the mobile Internet era, therefore it is very important for the brand to adjust with changes of [the users. The brand needs to change their traditional train of thought that emphasizes on business to one emphasizing the users, bring in the perspective of the society in its process of innovation, and give the brand more humane and spirited characteristics.

A brand should be something settled down from the beginning of its creation, that continuously reach to consumers through communication and media, gradually forming mutual trust and understanding with. This is not only a barrier difficult to be surpassed by competitors, but also a rich intangible asset. A successful brand can go through the intergenerational changes of technology, products, services, consumers, and still continue to prosper and evolve.

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