Brand loyalty can be pretty fickle. Marketers often overestimate the motivations of their brand loyalists and how prominent their brands are in their consumers’ lives.
This is particularly apparent when more than half of all grocery items are sold on price promotion. We train consumers to buy our brands on deal and then wonder why we have so many brand switchers. To exacerbate the challenge, many categories feature very little difference across competing products, making it even easier to substitute brands.
Very few consumers are exclusive to any one brand in a category. Most consumers shop a portfolio of regular brands depending on what meets their needs at the time.
This dynamic has led to very different points of view in the marketing community. Kevin Roberts from Saatchi & Saatchi describes the goal of marketing as the creation of “loyalty beyond reason”. Marketers should focus on creating more brand loyalists and “brands that create an intimate emotional connection that you simply can’t do without. Ever”.
Byron Sharp, author of “How Brands Grow”, argues that brand loyalty shouldn’t be the focus at all. Instead of creating more brand loyalists or deeper brand loyalty, marketers should accept that loyalty isn’t important and invest our time on everyone else. “Most of a brand’s customers think and care little about the brand, but the brand manager should care about these people because they represent most of the brand’s sales; the brand needs these people if it is to increase its sales.”
I’m interested in your thoughts on how much effort marketers should invest in growing brand loyalty.
(Marketoonist Monday: I’m giving away one signed print of this week’s cartoon. Just share an insightful comment to this week’s post by 5:00 PST on Monday. I’ll pick one comment. Thanks!)