Every product and service and merchant you're using these days is really keen on keeping you loyal during this COVID pandemic.
That's a time of lots of change.
People are trying so many different things.
They're often breaking the bonds of supposedly brand loyalty they had before COVID.
But what if that whole brand loyalty thing was Kind of a myth or at the very least misunderstood.
Lisa Lacey's got some ideas on this.
She's a senior writer at Ad Week.
And just did a very interesting piece on the go called, the pandemic proved there was no brand loyalty parentheses.
Beyond obsessed superfans, and that's a very different understanding than perhaps a lot of brands had about this strong loyalty they've built with all their supposedly passionate consumers.
So Lisa, what's the crux of this pretty provocative story?
What do we need to understand about brand loyalty and how we may have misunderstood it?
The crux of this is that there is a distinction between loyalty and habit.
And that's actually a nugget that came from America's read.
He's a Professor of Marketing at Wharton.
And the way he explained it was that well, brand loyalty to begin with is very difficult to measure.
And so brands kind of have this tendency to look at consumers who buy their products over and over and over and over again and look at that and say That's a loyal consumer, that's a loyal customer to my brand.
But that isn't necessarily the case.
And I think, if you think about kind of the your own purchases as a consumer, there are a lot of products that you may buy regularly, but you don't necessarily have an emotional connection to that brand or to that product.
I think batteries are a great example If you look at virtually any case study about Amazon's private label business, they talk about batteries because, you know, with all due respect to Energizer and Duracell, it's just it's not a product category where brands matters all that much to consumers at the end of the day, they want to know.
Is it gonna work?
[LAUGH] And is it gonna last as long as it possibly can at the end of the day habit, is when customers are buying products over and over and over again, because they're fine.
They serve a need they're there.
But if that product.
Send me wasn't available.
And listen and listen to some of the language you're using.
They're they're fine they work okay, they're there.
That's not exactly what brand marketers are seeking to establish right they want to get to a higher level.
But in fact that may be all they've accomplished is to be fine in consumers minds.
And I think the big distinction with loyalty is love.
And I think that that comes in two ways, possibly more but but the two that I wanted to talk about one, if you think about something and emotional connection that's been forged over time, so if you have like Campbell's soup, and maybe as a kid you grew up, your grandmother made it for For you.
You remember that red and white can in her kitchen.
You remember eating the soup at her kitchen table and feeling warm, and safe, and loved.
And so, those are feelings that you attach to the brand over many, many, many years.
Okay, so that's kind of the irrational nostalgia play.
And then there's also just consumers who really truly love your brand and are super fans of whatever you're manufacturing if you don't mind, I have a prop.
If I can bring that out.
Yes lets see it [INAUDIBLE]
So Hidden Valley Ranch sent me this bedazzled bottle of salad dressing [LAUGH] A couple of years ago.
I'm not necessarily a ranch superfan but they offered to send it to me Like if the universe offers to send you a bedazzled bottle of salad dressing you say yes.
But this is something that and it has pride of place in my kitchen.
I love it.
But it's something that was for sale on the Hidden Valley Ranch website a couple of years ago.
It's not there anymore, but they have other products like there's a ranch bottle shaped pool floaty.
There's a swimsuit, their socks that on the bottom say if you can read this Bring me more ranch.
Other shirts that say I put ranch on my ranch.
So there's all of these products that if you are a big ranch fan if you're a big Hidden Valley Ranch fan, in particular, you can go to this website.
You can buy those products and
Because, wear them, put them in your home, as a way of demonstrating,how much this brand means to you.
That's interesting because that almost sounds to me, like, not necessarily am I loyal to the brand of product, but I ended up maybe I had habit for it, but then you made me kind of passionate about it because you built a culture around it.
And so maybe my loyalty is to the culture as opposed to the dressing.
Again, like not all product categories lend themselves to stuff like this.
Something like paper towels.
It's probably a harder sell and that's another category where I don't think brand matters quite as much to consumers.
But when you get into things like clothing or electronics, brands like Nike and Apple and those are Brands that are more closely connected to consumer identity and consumers are much more likely to want to, you know, wear the shirt and the shoes.
Yeah, you'll be seen holding that device.
So the word identity you just use sounds like it's an important one to distinguish between habits.
And loyalty, identity is what brands really need to get to.
It sounds like to achieve loyalty is having some component of that product being part of my identity.
I don't necessarily know if brands can create loyalty kind of beyond what they Need to do typically as brand so you have the best product and service and given category you focus on making the best possible experience in terms of buying and using that products get rid of any pain points you Delight.
And then you also listen to consumers in social media.
And for any complaints, you solicit their feedback.
Or if you want to expand whatever products you're you're offering you solicit their advice incorporate that into r&d efforts.
But one analyst that I talked to you for this piece pointed out that you know, there really aren't any rules for brand loyalty and a pandemic and there may be aren't any rules for brand loyalty overall.
So for him, it really comes down to how brands treat their customers now, and so there's probably a lesson In that?
Yeah I think a lot of times brands don't realize that what looks like loyalty is just short cut for, like you say, this is fine, this is a safe purchase, I don't have to think too much about it.
Cuz if we had to go down the aisle everyday at the grocery store, let alone any other store and think every purchase we'd be there for hours.
I mean brand is a shortcut for pre approved, in my mind, right.
I mean, that was part of what Professor Reid was talking about.
He had his own personal example, with some shampoo and a lime green bottle at the grocery store.
And it was something like it's easy to see [LAUGH]
the trick and so he did that.
Over and over and over again for a long time and then they change the packaging and it wasn't as easy to find and he ended up picking something else.
Just the change in packaging.
In fact in that category in the shampoo category if he wants a guy recall a brand I bought regularly change their packaging.
It was all it took for me to say well, what else is there That's-
A pretty low bar.
Not only are there a ton of products for consumers to choose from in any given category, but there are a heck of a lot of ways for you to get them.
So I mean, it wasn't that long ago really when if you wanted to buy something you had to physically go out to a store and you were limited to whatever was on those shelves unless you wanted to Order it by mail or something along those lines then we have e commerce which opens up your options a bit.
And now with e commerce, you can you can still choose to go to the store or you can order it to be delivered to your house, you can order it to be delivered to the store.
And in some cases, you can drive to the store, have them put it in your trunk.>> Yea
And then there's all these DFC options now.
And if I can maybe offer one personal anecdote, it's a little embarrassing, but we're all friends here, right?
So I have some grey hair and I don't wanna have grey hair.
So, I was using hair color just from like the dress store.
I had my brands, I had my shade, but it was kind of a pain to happen to like physically go to the.
The drugstore every time I looked in the mirror and thought, I got to colour my hair again and tried to order it online.
difficult to find exactly what I wanted or I had to buy it in bulk didn't want to do that.
So it was just, I mean it was fine.
It did the trick.
But every time I needed to go out and buy it, it was it was annoying.
Until then along comes this DDC hair color startup Madison Reed.
I'm not on paper, but it's done is they?
They offer I mean, it's allegedly a better quality product.
It's a subscription based service.
So it's super easy.
I can set how frequently I want it to deliver how to arrive on my doorstep.
So as soon as I start seeing those grades come in, I got my email from Madison reads Saying it's on its way.
And it's so much easier now.
So you had a brand that was, had a lot of confidence, inspiring ability for you to say, This is a good one.
It's well known.
Maybe it's been around forever.
I'm in good company.
And I would imagine that you feel the same way that Madison Reed had to also establish a certain degree of, Yeah, this is good stuff.
Not just easy to get stuff.
Yes, you know it was there was a story in TechCrunch about it.
convinced me that it was, it was legit was that it was, there was a major, news organization out there reporting on it surely
It's kind of a tech company because it's in this whole new delivery mode, it's like Warby Parker and all the reps that have come along in this new mode that the all the different shave Club's and all that thing.
I find this interesting because it leads us to the next I think wrinkle in this era, which is we have, for example, these fashion kit services where I'll say here's my style, send me a box of clothes every once in a while, and then I'm kind of divorced of brand.
My loyalty is to the box company.
And I don't necessarily dictate what brand of clothes they're going to send me.
My loyalty is to them if it's loyalty at all, to send me clothes that detaches me from loyalty to the clothing brand.
I think something similar could happen in the future with let's say, Amazon if I want to say, hey, Amazon, I need more toothpaste, and I'm willing to let Amazon figure out based on what it knows about me What toothpaste is send me It may not be the one that I typically buy they may say you know what?
We know you like spearmint with fluoride and paste versus gel.
Here's a new one that we have a great price on.
And I bet you're gonna love it.
And now my loyalty is to Amazon.
My trust is to Amazon to deliver those two examples right thanks.
Sometimes the service may supplant the brand loyalty to the Product.
You make me think of voice shopping and how I mean, I think that they still pretty early days.
With that how if I actually have an Alexa in here, so hopefully I don't set her off.
But if I was to say Alexa Order paper towels-
You just ordered paper towels, you realize?
[LAUGH] What brand ends up going in your cart.
How does Amazon choose which brand of paper towels?
And I haven't actually done that myself, so I don't know how that process works.
But it does get into how brands work with Amazon, then, to To make sure that when a customer is asking by voice to order something that their brand is the brand.
There was a study I saw from media comm probably almost a year and a half ago now and they forget the number but it was a vastly bigger percentage of people gave a generic request via voice.
So hey, Alexa, paper towels.
Whereas when they're typing on Amazon or just googling, they'll, they'll type brawny paper towels.
They tend to use brands through their fingers, but generic through their voice, which seems kind of logical to me.
I don't, I don't think I speak brands as much as I type them because I've gotten used to getting better search results.
If I'm more specific So that might also be a very interesting wrinkle in voice.
But as you say, voice commerce is still way down the road,
You know, and I think of something like a brand like Yeti those coolers.
He freaks out about I feel like that's a really good example I googled.And they were founded in 2006.
So it really wasn't that long ago.
But in that 14 year time period, I mean, they Arguably have developed this like rabid fan base so it doesn't necessarily take decades in order to do this.
But I think that as long as you as a brand are dotting your eyes, but should use the caveat that I'm not actually a branding expert but as long as you're doing all of the things that you're supposed to be doing and as the the Forrester analyst, I think he was said that Treat your customers well, that ultimately, I think you do have at least a shot at retaining those customers that you've gained, and proving that you're the better brand.
And I think another one, one quick example here.
If you look at like, Oreo versus Hydrox, let's say and so, let's say that there's a customer that has been buying Oreo.
After week for years, and then suddenly earlier this year couldn't find Oreo.
And instead by Hydras.
I mean that's a moment in theory where I mean I think Hydrox is actually older than Oreo, right?
Yeah, I think it, [LAUGH] seven, If you the customer tries it, it's like you know, I liked I liked the billing better or whatever, you know, then again, by following those, those sort of brand fundamentals Hydrox potentially has a chance to win over that customer forever
And become a new habit as well as having a little bit of loyalty because it's preference.
I mean, so we're talking about so many things here.
We kept talking everyone talked about loyalty But we're seeing habit show up here.
We're seeing preference show up here, which means you have to earn it every day that they buy it, it still has to be good and be what they like.
And there's also I think the concept of utility when you mentioned Yeti, I think about so many of the goods now that are passionate, used to be things like Tiffany jewelry or certain kinds of high dollar fashion.
Today, people I think have replaced a lot of that certainly younger generations with a really good water bottle.
A really good mattress, a really good Yeti, cooler.
We've moved I think from a gilded form of loyalty and passion to a utility based form of passion.
In many cases, we're more interested interested in things that really work well, not so much in things that show well.
We've been talking to Lisa Lacey, senior writer from Adweek and, her piece, you can find it ad week, which I think just search for it.
No brand loyalty.
It should show right up.
And if you're watching this video on CNET, there's a link to the article in the post below.