When we like a company that puts out a good product we become loyal to the brand, don’t we? But what we see as brand loyalty is actually more the effects of comfort and laziness than anything else. Furthermore, we’ll defend that comfort to the death. This results in some bad buying decisions, which is especially bad when you’re getting into Christmas shopping mode. Here’s how to overcome those problems, get better products, and save yourself some money in the process.
ScienceDaily points out that brand loyalty isn’t so much about staying true to a particular company, but rather defending one’s own opinions and choices:
When companies get consumers motivated about their products, they are just as motivated to protect the brand as they are themselves. So it’s really more about the self than the brand. When people can self-affirm through other means and activities, they’re not defensive at all.
It also doesn’t help that we will cling to bad ideas if we’re invested in them. We’ll knowingly ride a horse off a cliff just because it seemed like the right way to go when we began. When we put money into a product and time into using it, so long as we don’t immediately hate it we’ll often become more attached because we’ve bothered to learn it. You may hate your smartphone’s operating system, but you’ve purchased a bunch of apps for it and you know how to use it so why switch? That’s the dilemma of brand loyalty. You become lost in the comfort of familiarity. We’re not “creatures of loyalty” but rather “creatures of habit,” which is precisely the clue on how to solve the problem of brand loyalty.
In order to get over brand loyalty you shouldn’t necessarily have, you need to look at it like a bad habit. We’ve discussed ways to break a bad habit, and many of those strategies apply here as well. You’re not trying to kick your fingernail-munching issues, but you are attempting to let go of something that brings you comfort through familiarity and letting go will make you anxious all the same. Here’s what to do.
First things first, you need to understand how your brand loyalty actually affects you. Perhaps you’re regularly frustrated by the use of a particular product or you’re overpaying for brand-name medicine when you can get the exact same thing for less when you buy a store-brand alternative. Make a list of these problems so you have a concrete example available next time you’re shopping. This may seem a little silly, as you’re basically making a list to remind you not to buy a new Android phone or whatever else, but that’s because it seems like a silly problem you shouldn’t even have. The thing is, if you’re frustrated or spending too much or having other difficulties because of what you buy, it’s a real problem for you and you’ll be causing yourself more trouble by ignoring it.
Once you know how your brand habit affects you, use that information to be critical of yourself. Get used to thinking of the problem whenever you look at making a purchase. When you remember to be critical when you’re out shopping for specific items, you’ll develop it as general habit. This will help keep you from developing additional brand habits down the line.
You’ll want these good habits in place before you go out shopping for others. While it may feel like these problems only relate to you, we’ll often buy things we like when getting a gift for others (rather than thinking about their wants). This happens because while we might know what our gift recipient wants, we can’t access their brand habits as easily as our own. We also want to buy them something we think is nice, and we need to use our own opinions to make that determination. You might not literally think, “So and so needs a new computer and I like Apple so I’m going to buy him/her an iMac,” but you’ll still often pick the iMac over a Dell Inspiron One if you like Macs and your gift recipient is impartial. That decision will ultimately cost you more money and make no difference in the long run. When kicking a brand habit, you have to apply the same habit-breaking tactics to every purchase and not just the ones you make for yourself. Your goal is ultimately to make logical buying choices, not the ones that bring you the comfort of familiarity. The recipient of your gift won’t know that comfort. You’ll only have fooled yourself into believing you definitely made the right choice.