Are the days of brand loyalty dead and gone, or are they still going strong? In this age of transience and fast-paced change, everyone seems to be game to try something new. And yet the brand names that have been around for generations and withstood the test of time, behemoths that have become generalised mascots of their niche such as Tupperware and Pampers, seem to be here to stay.
Familiarity vs the New and Novel
You know very well what you’re paying for when buying from an established brand name. There’s no need to worry about its quality assurance, build, taste, feel, or performance because you know it to varying degrees of intimacy since you were a child (or when your parents or grandparents were children, sometimes). On the other hand, you might feel the urge to step out of the box to try something that’s new and less established, to see if they’re really as good as they say they are. There are so many new start-ups with new products that you’re practically drowning in choices when comparing products! With new brands, though, come untested waters: you’ll be testing out the product yourself to see if it’s worth your patronage.
In times of economic crunches like this year, the difference in price is probably one of the main nudges that will push consumers to try alternatives to established brand names. New brands are usually cheaper, and when every ringgit and sen counts, every little bit you save is a bit more funds that you can channel elsewhere. Of course, there are new brands in niche markets that set a higher price tag, such as the organic products market. Conversely, we’re seeing a rise in the proliferation of generic brands, such as everyday products carrying the brand of the retailer. Do you fancy Tesco’s chocolate milk powder or Giant’s cornflakes if you’re not willing to pay premium prices for Milo or Kellog’s?
Do you shop wherever you happen to stop, or must you visit a particular outlet on a particular day to do your shopping? Do you go to the same restaurant chain every so often? If you answered yes to any of the above, your loyalty may well pay off. There are multiple avenues to make your habits pay off, from memberships with privileges, to additional discounts, rewards, points, to purchasing credit, depending on where you go.
Brand loyalty is rather difficult to achieve if you patronise a small-scale, local brand that thrives in its own community. You’ll find it difficult to find the brand once you move out of its sphere of influence and marketing arm. With established brand names with wider, often global outreach, however, that’s less of a problem. Have you a fussy family member who wants things just so and nothing else? Then you’d be a loyal consumer by default, so you better hope that loyalty equals convenience!
Some products, such as electronics, will break down over time, and sometimes you might think it’s time for a replacement. When that moment comes, will you stick to the same brand or hop over to a new one? On one hand, you’d be familiar with the system of the new gadget; on the other hand, the alternatives may be more price-friendly. Some brands, like Apple, offer you incentives to stay loyal to them, with possibilities to trade in your device for a newer model, or bundled deals with local telcos to make their products more affordable. If you’re looking around for a replacement and their offers make it more advantageous than buying and familiarising yourself with a new brand, why not stay?
Sometimes it pays, and sometimes it doesn’t, to stay loyal to a brand. Maybe we’re no longer as fixated on the tried and tue as our forefathers, but little is more comforting than the familiar when it matters!