Posted by Gail | Filed under Smart Shopper
Once upon a time consumers could be counted on to be loyal to a brand. There are still people who are die-hard Toyota drivers, wouldn’t rinse their clothes with anything other than Downy or keep their accounts at a bank because that’s the first place they opened up an account.
I have a few brands I love. I’m a Dawn dish-liquid girl because it does cut the grease and I like its environmental policy: Dawn helps clean up oil-slicked birds. I use Meaningful Beauty on my face because even though I’ve tried several other brands, I like the way this particular brand makes my skin feel and look. And I’m partial to Lindor chocolates, the red ones.
Sometimes the brands we buy are dictated by others. Boyo only eats Vector cereal and Miss Vickies salt and vinegar chips. Buying anything else means it’s not going to get eaten.
The internet has changed our focus on brand loyalty to a large extent. Since the world wide web has shrunk the world, it is easier for consumers to get information about the brands they like, and competitive brands, before they buy. I used to be a Maytag appliance girl, but I wouldn’t dream of buying a new appliance today without doing a thorough investigation into what’s new and improved.
We take a lot of things into account before we choose a particular brand. It’s not enough anymore that this is what our mommies and daddies used, or that it has the largest market share. Now it is more likely to be our experience – and the experiences of others – that seal the deal. Witness the popularity of travel rating sites like tripadvisor.ca.
Smart consumers aren’t loyal to a particular brand anymore because they’re always keeping their eyes open for the next good deal. They want a good price, they want quality and they want service. Sites and magazines like consumerreports.org have built their business of consumers shopping around.
Heaven help a brand that disappoints. Facebook, Twitter and Google+ et al will spread the bad news before the brand manager has the chance to pull the fire alarm. When my trip to the Bahamas with Malcolm was shadowed by a crappy hotel stay (really, Sheraton, you can’t find an orange or banana for the breakfast buffet on a tropical island?) I tweeted it seven ways from Sunday. The hotel tried to mollify me, but it was too late. A bigger room wasn’t going to make up for a run-down property and really really bad food (I’m talking duck in cherry sauce made with… wait for it… wait… maraschino cherries!).
Some brands can recover from a bad showing. Remember New Coke? And when I had a sad experience with a chocolate covered blueberry product, I wrote and told the company and they Fed-Exed me a replacement bag. That’ll keep my business as long as I don’t have another negative experience with the product.
Are you brand loyal? Has your attitude towards a particular brand changed recently? If you’ve been unhappy with a particular brand, under what circumstances would you go back to it?