Coke or Pepsi?
It’s a question that challenges even the most solid of relationships, at least according to a new study by researchers at Duke University.
The study, published this month in the Journal of Consumer Research found that seemingly insignificant differences in tastes — like preferring Pepsi products over Coca Cola — can actually have more of an impact on happiness in relationships than other personality traits or interests.
"People think compatibility in relationships comes from having similar backgrounds, religion or education," Gavan Fitzsimons, a marketing professor at Duke University's Fuqua School of Business, said in the new study. "But we find those things don't explain how happy you are in life nearly as much as this notion of brand compatibility."
The reason: We interact with these brands every day, so they’re a constant reminder of differences between partners. Power also comes into play.
"If you are lower in relationship power and have different brand preferences than your partner, you're probably going to find yourself stuck with your partner's favorite brands, over and over again. This could lead to a death-by-a-thousand-cuts feeling," student researcher Danielle Brick added.
Soda isn’t the only product that can drive couples apart, according to the researchers. Brand preferences in everything from coffee to cars can affect relationship bliss.
"It's an extremely robust effect, we found it over and over and over again," Fitzsimons said.
Brick added that soda preferences might not cause a breakup, 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.”
We’d argue that is a good reason to break up — if your partner doesn’t care enough to bring home your favorite drink once in awhile, they probably don’t really care about your happiness at all.
And it’s probably a good idea to make things clear up front before you dive head first into a new relationship.
"People who are looking for love should maybe consider including brand preferences on their dating profiles," Fitzsimons said.