Modern consumerist culture has spawned its own quasi-religion based on brand name, argues a team of University researchers.

"Everything that is crucial to religion - shared values and beliefs, community interactions, storytelling, and an acceptance of the supernatural - can also be found in the worship by consumers of brands," the report authors claim in the March 2005 issue of the Journal of Consumer Research.

The team looked at several brands, including those form the automobile industry, sci-fi TV series and Macs. "All of these brand communities have been demonstrated to be capable of producing transformative experiences in their consumers and all have traces of magic, religion or the supernatural," they said.

Looking at Apple's long-gone Newton products, the observe: "The consumers of the forsaken Apple Newton brand are now charged with the responsibility for the entire brand-sustaining experience: modifying, repairing, and innovating the product, writing brand promotions and performing the brand experience."

They add that as part of this idol worship, they, "engage in consumer-to-consumer narrative interactions that bind the community together and reify its values and beliefs", they observe.

"Supernatural, religious, and magical motifs are common in these stories, including the miraculous performance and survival of the brand, as well as the return of the brand creator. We see traditional religious stories, players, and parts played out in the marketplace."

Are you a Mac convert or cultist, or do you reject the perceptions of this report? Are you angry or happy to be called quasi-religious? Let us know in the Macworld forums.