The Cult of Brand Loyalty
Brand loyalty is something that has come up in my life recently. As food prices rise, I constantly am trying to find store brand items that can replace name brand items without my family noticing. It is not about being cheap as much as it is about being smart. If there is no change in quality or taste, then there really is no reason to stick with the brand.
I am completely open to eating store brand food items. It was something I did growing up. I also find the names the stores come up with quiet amusing.
Take Wal-Mart’s Dr. Thunder. It tastes just like Dr. Pepper and is $1 cheaper. Even though most consumers know there is minimal difference, what makes them pay extra for a name?
According to Psychology.Wikia, “True brand loyalty exists when customers have a high relative attitude toward the brand which is then exhibited through repurchase behavior.” The main focus of a company or brand is to get the consumer to repurchase. If you’ve ever seen a Shark Tank episode, you know a key word used is “retainment.” It is a similar idea to repurchase. The more you repurchase, the more loyal you become.
For me, if I can find a viable alternative to a product, I will make the leap and try it. I have done this with Fage Greek Yogurt, Triscuits and Almond Breeze. My local grocery store, Market Basket, has store brand options that are interchangeable.
But what happens when store brand items (like Market Basket Crunchy Cheese Twists) illicit brand loyalty as well. Certainly, Market Basket and Wal Mart want you to buy their items. But they are also making a profit by getting you in the store to buy big name items too. When a store can have a “house” item that consumers become loyal to, its a win-win for them.
As I move down the aisles to find the best deals, I find myself reaching more and more for the “house” items. Psychologically, I may be telling myself that there isn’t a difference in the item, therefore not second guessing making the purchase. Or, the store themselves have made a more concerted effort to make their products just as appealing, making the decision that much easier.
A friend of mine is a manager at a local Market Basket. He is in charge of the dairy section, so I inquired about my yogurt decision. My main concern was, “Does Market Basket make the yogurt or are they buying it from say Fage and just change the packaging?” He told me that Market Basket will buy their products (not all) from the big names and then change the packaging and lower the cost. He also gave me some insight into my yogurt, which is made by Hood.
I believe many consumers do not know this. They are trusting the big name brands to make a better quality product, merely because they have been the target of incessant advertising. They also may be sticking with what works for them. If more consumers broke out of their loyalty, or cultishness, then they may find better products for less money.