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Talk human to me: Understanding the new ways brands interact with us

November 9, 2022

When we humanize brands, it changes how we see them. Professor Aggarwal dives into how and why we anthropomorphize brands, and why it matters.

Many of the world’s leading brands have mastered the art of making their brand seem more human. They typically use characters, mascots or human features to reach their audiences — think Mr. Clean, Tony the Tiger’s Frosted Flakes or Amazon’s Echo and Alexa devices. 

In the third episode of the Rotman Executive Summary podcast, Professor Pankaj Aggarwal speaks about the pros and cons of humanizing brands, and how celebrity-led brands, social media and AI are changing the rules for interacting with customers. 

The act of anthropomorphizing — attributing human characteristics to a product — has evolved over the years along with consumer behaviours and the marketing landscape.

“I think the rules of marketing have changed,” says Aggarwal, noting how increasingly easy it is for brands to talk to customers directly with the growth of social media and access to customer data.

“It puts a challenge on the marketers to really understand the nature of humans, and not just humanization.”

Next month on Rotman Executive Summary, Assistant Professor Rachel Ruttan shares best practices for giving advice and constructive feedback that’s likely to be well-received. She explores the latest research in advice-giving and navigating complex emotions at work, blending insights from psychology into her management research.

If you missed the previous episode with Professor Andreas Park, tune in to explore the rise and fall of cryptocurrency, and what that might mean for business leaders.

New episodes of the Rotman Executive Summary are released monthly on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts and Soundcloud. Desktop listeners can also tune in on Simplecast.

Would you rather read than listen in? Check out the full transcript of the episode here.

Written by Jessie Park | More Faculty Research Profiles »

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Pankaj Aggarwal

Professor, Marketing

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