In fact, the more religious a person is, the less those sort of brand expressions seem to matter, according to a series of experiments run by the team. Their paper, "Brands: The Opiate of Non-Religious Masses?," appears currently online in the journal Marketing Science.
"People with a high involvement in religiosity aren't necessarily as brand-conscious as people who don't practice religion," said Gavan Fitzsimons, the R. David Thomas Professor of Marketing and Psychology at The Fuqua School of Business. This is true at least for visible expressions of brand, like socks and sunglasses.
The team first conducted a field study in which they looked at several geographic areas for the number of Apple stores per million people, the number of brand stores such as Macy's and Gap, and a comparison statistic they called the "brand-discount store ratio." Then they compared these rough measures of brand reliance against the number of congregations per thousand and self-reported attendance in church or synagogue, controlling for income, education and urbanization differences. In every analysis, they found a negative relationship between brand reliance and religiosity.
Don't have much to add yet, other than it seeming to fit a missing part of the puzzle to explain some passions about certain brands.