Why do consumers keep brands in their lives? Relevance.
For all the talk that consumers don’t care about brands anymore and that loyalty is a thing of the past, the fact remains that branded goods account for huge swathes of the purchased economy. So what is it that people are attracted to? Here are 20 reasons, in no particular order, for why consumers might choose one brand and not choose the many alternatives being offered them.
- Familiarity – they know the brand too well to let it go – either because they have dealt with the brand for a long time or because the brand itself is one with a huge history. Find out more about the next era of familiarity.
- Goodness – they believe in what the brand stands for and/or the stances it takes and therefore the difference they can make through being aligned with the brand. See why we’re seeing an increase in interest around brand responsibility.
- Trust – they believe the brand will keep delivering them things they want. This is how brands should look to increase consumer trust.
- Convenience – they are not motivated to try anything new because they don’t believe the effort is worth it. It’s important to understand whether your customers are loyal or whether they’re buying for convenience.
- Excitement – they associate the brand with something that inspires them. Again, it’s important to assess motivation: are customers motivated by recognition or genuine excitement?
- Outrage – the brand says or does things that others wouldn’t dare and they support it for speaking out. Every brand looking to enter a market for example should plan to behave as an upstart, not just as a start up.
- Interest – the brand keeps doing or saying things that get their attention. That’s the power of interesting.
- Exchange – the people they’ve interacted with from the brand have impressed them via their attitude and/or service. Here’s the case for making your brand useful before you attempt to make it amazing.
- One of us – people want to deal with something that feels “local” and visible, rather than a corporate giant. In fact, the best brands work locally even if they are global.
- Recognition – they feel that the brand has singled them out for rewards. Read more about what makes shoppers decide to buy.
- Value for money – they believe no other brand will offer them the deals they get by staying with this one brand. Here’s a simple value equation.
- Dependability – they believe it’s a better brand for them, meaning they have probably bought into a story that supports that status. This is how you unlock a competitive brand story.
- Status – using the brand telegraphs important things, such as personal qualities, about them to others. Price, for example, signals three things.
- Rebellion – staying loyal to one brand is their way of detracting from another brand that they don’t approve of or that they don’t want to see succeed. One very powerful approach to consider if you’re looking at your brand’s future is a Singularity Strategy.
- Authority – they see the brand as the leader in their field, and therefore they look to them for ideas and ways forward. Consider these 10 powerful brand leadership strategies.
- Experience – they like what happens for them when they buy the brand. Personally I like the idea of brand experiences that feel more like coincidences.
- Ease – it’s too hard to change and/or there are financial disadvantages to doing so and/or they worry about what changing might mean or where it might lead them. They may also continue to buy because the brand is highly visible and readily available meaning they don’t have to think about where to find it. That’s why I suggest don’t study their actions, study their habits.
- Tribe – they are unabashed fans of the brand and they enjoy sharing that enthusiasm with others. Here are 30 things that likeable brands do.
- Simplicity – they are drawn to the brand’s ability to break down the complicated into something approachable. That’s why the search for brand simplicity is really picking up.
- Character – they like the brand’s attitude – it’s injected a fresh approach to often a staid or formal sector. As more and more brands look the same, it’s more important than ever (and harder than ever) to have a differentiation strategy.
Many of these characteristics hold true for corporate and business brands as well as consumer-facing brands. Technology may come and go but, as the list above shows, most of the reasons why people make continuing choices have a strong emotional basis. As Nigel Hollis astutely observed, “Brands work just as they have always done. Brands are signals of meaning in a morass of noise. A marketer that focuses attention only on the means and not the meaning is going to end up ignoring the real drivers of brand success.”
Of course, there may be more than one motivation. In fact, I would suggest that the most powerful brands look for ways to double up motivations in combinations that become a hallmark of dealing with them.
This is the question that is not asked enough in my view: why will they return?
In an age where so much emphasis is put on how brands are going to generate customer loyalty, not enough attention is paid to perhaps the most obvious question of all: why on earth will they return? And therefore what should the brand continue to provide more of into the future? Brands that are followed for their excitement, for example, must keep that emotion constant if they wish to prosper. On the other hand, brands that are prized for their familiarity must find ways to remain relevant and yet still be immediately recognisable.
When brands abandon this primal customer motivation in favour of something that interests them more, they call into question the loyalty drivers that have gotten them to this point. Equally, brands that find themselves in trouble need to think about two things as they look to recuperate their reputation. Can they restore consumer interest using the motivation they did use? If they can’t, which new motivation should they be aiming for, and what will that say about their brand post-crisis?