Online dating websites might want to start asking members if they prefer Coke or Pepsi. New research says that preferring different brands can affect our happiness in relationships. Even more than shared interests or personality traits. Add that to the compatibility algorithm!
The findings, “Coke vs. Pepsi: Brand Compatibility, Relationship Power, and Life Satisfaction,” are in the Journal of Consumer Research. Duke marketing Professor Gavan Fitzsimons worked with Tanya Chartrand, Grainne Fitzsimons, and Danielle Brick.
Their studies in several settings produced the same result. Brand compatibility contributed more to a person’s happiness in life than other factors. Personality traits and similar interests or backgrounds didn’t explain this happiness. Couples with different brand preferences may not break up over them, but they aren’t as happy in the long run.
The studies used brand preferences in soda, coffee, chocolate, beer, and automobiles. Researchers tracked couples and individuals, some for over two years. Some partners had “low power” in their relationship. In other words, they didn’t feel they could shape their partner’s behavior. These partners tended to be stuck with the brands their partner likes. This lead to the low power person becoming less and less happy.
Brands have evolved to play a bigger role in our lives. So the effects of brand compatibility become stronger over time. Most of us don’t see this as a significant factor in our relationship. Yet researchers describe the effect of brand compatibility as “extremely robust.”
“If you are a different religion than your romantic partner, you know that if this is an issue you can’t work through, then the relationship isn’t going to last,” Brick said. “Conversely, if you like Coke and your partner likes Pepsi, you’re probably not going to break up over it – but 11 years into a relationship, when he or she keeps coming home with Pepsi, day in and day out, it might start to cause a little conflict. And if you’re the low-power person in the relationship, who continually loses out on brands and is stuck with your partner’s preferences, you are going to be less happy.”
Fitzsimmons gives some interesting advice for online dating. “People who are looking for love should maybe consider including brand preferences on their dating profiles,” Fitzsimons said.
Brand preference is a unique and surprising compatibility factor. Something to keep in mind when you're looking for long-term relationship happiness. And what a unique tip for what to put in your online dating profile!