A Little (Loyalty) Goes a Long Way

Jennifer Acevedo, Editor-in-Chief

I came across an interesting statistic while doing research for this month’s issue on simplifying the in-store experience: a full 90 percent of consumer products launched each year fail, according to Citibank Group.
An over-proliferation of brands in an over-crowded retail landscape can shoulder some of the blame, but this is no “wake-up call” for the industry. As you will read throughout this issue of BRANDPACKAGING, both retailers and brands are making great strides in their efforts to better understand their customers and deliver what they need—when and where they need it.
The authors of Brand Loyalty: The New Strategic Goal (Datamonitor, July 2007, www.datamonitor.com) suggest that we look beyond “experience” in the battle for the hearts and minds of consumers. Consider the notion, they suggest, that our consumption is in part determined by self-definition. Consumers attribute symbolic meaning to brands across many consumer goods categories, and they embrace brands that reflect their lifestyles and values.
Research bears it out: the Datamonitor study found that more than half of Europeans and Americans say they appreciate brands that match their attitudes and outlook on life, and 56 percent value marketing that reflects their personal situation. Could be the reason we now hear The Chemical Brothers helping sell Budweiser or The Kinks crooning to us to buy HP products.
Think about the products you love, and the lengths you would go to find them. I’m typing this column on a Macintosh computer, and by no accident. The vast majority of my colleagues work on PCs (even editors!), but I’ve been using Apple Computers since the seventh grade. I have uttered the phrase, “I’m a Mac person”, both proudly and sheepishly over the years, but the loyalty remains.
Can you infuse your current customers with that type of devotion? Because if you can, I suspect that no amount of shelf clutter or information overload will make them waver. According to a 2006 survey by the Grocery Manufacturers Association in the U.S., only 29 percent of “brand loyal” consumers would react to a “stock-out” by buying a brand other than their usual preferred choice. Two-thirds of consumers would remain loyal to their brand, either by trying to find it in another store or delaying purchase until their next shopping trip.
Yes, a little loyalty certainly does go a long way.