While watching a recent episode of AMC’s Mad Men, the advertising agency characters were lamenting over the potential loss of another account: The Lucky Strike people were switching agencies.
This same agency turnover is very common in the advertising industry, and has also occurred locally here in Indianapolis — with one Indianapolis advertising agency — Pearson Partners, Inc., closing its doors this July after 33 years. The Indy ad agency had taken a big hit when local electronics company HHGregg took its multi-million dollar ad budget elsewhere.
This got me thinking — Is there any brand loyalty anymore?
In this age of discounts, coupons and price wars, retailers and businesses everywhere are struggling for a piece of our discretionary income. Consumers are becoming less brand loyal as they think about their household or business budget and how they can best spend it.
So as a business, what are our options? Either we jump on the bandwagon and compete on price, or we work really hard to distinguish ourselves from the pack and encourage loyalty.
Now, I must admit that I’ve become somewhat of a coupon-crazed consumer myself. There are certain products that if they’re on sale, with a coupon, I can’t pass up the deal. For instance, I will buy Huggies, Luvs or Pampers diapers, depending on which store has the best sale. But I may only buy Tostitos chips instead of the generic alternative because I know that those taste the best. And my kids love the Yoplait Go-Gurt for breakfast, so that is the only kind I’ll buy.
What makes a brand more likely to have loyal followers?
We’ll exclude the cigarette category for a moment, for obvious reasons. But here are some characteristics that might help a brand gain more loyal followers:
- Nostalgia: Play off of the experience that your customers had growing up, or using your product in the past, with their families, or some other ritual or tradition. This will give the customer a good feeling about continuing use of your product or service, because it’s what they’ve always done.
- Years of Existance: Note how long the company or brand has been around. This instills a sense of quality and ensures the customer that you’ve been there for them this long, and plan to be around for them in the future.
- Quality: Playing up some factor that makes your brand last longer, work better or some other factor will make your brand look more attractive, even if it costs a little bit more than the nearest competitor.
- Industry Leader: If you’re the brand leader in your category, by all means flaunt it. Now is the time to mention your market share and industry prowess. People are always looking to join the bandwagon.
These are just a few examples. As I see it, you have two choices: differentiate your brand to gain (or keep) your customers loyal, or die trying to compete on price alone. It’s up to you which path to take.