Brand Loyalty

So, it took me three days, but I am finally getting back to posting about brand loyalty.

This post all starts when I came across an ad in the Edmonton Journal for a camera shop’s sale. I shoot with Canon equipment, and I have ever since I bought my Canon Powershot A80 way back in, oh geez, 2005, right before my Grade 13 Europe band trip. (As an aside, it was one of the last ones on the market, as Canon had recently discontinued the model.)

So this is my jumping off point for a discussion on brand loyalty. It won’t be as in-depth an analysis as you would expect from something like the Age of Persuasion, but it’s something.

I used to think I wasn’t a slave to brands. Growing up, I never had the big-name clothing. Nike, Adidas, etc., it didn’t exist in my house. Well, at least not to a large degree. I’m sure I had some, but it probably came in the form of hand-me-downs from a boy up the street.

But as time has passed, I realize I am, to some degree, a slave to brands. And to some degree, this bothers me.

First example: Adidas shoes. I first bought a pair of running shoes by Adidas. I’m talking fairly high-end shoes, here. Sure, I got them on deep discount, and they gave me blisters pretty much from Day 1, but they were (allegedly) high-end Adidas running shoes. My next Adidas shoe purchase was a pair of, well, also running shoes. But these were bought partly for the tread pattern and that I wanted to use them for playing indoor Ultimate. In short, it seems when it comes to athletic shoes, I have some sort of loyalty to Adidas.

That being said, my most recent running shoes (for running, not like sneakers) are not Adidas. And my cleats, as uncomfortable as they are, are also not Adidas. So maybe I don’t have as much loyalty as I thought I did.

Back to Canon and cameras. Here it’s somewhat a combination of being familiar with the brand (I had a friend who had the same A80), being experienced with the brand (having used the A80 for years) and the fact camera equipment is essentially not interchangeable (you can’t use Nikon lenses on a Canon body). At this moment, my loyalty to Canon is not really strong, because I only own one body and two, cheap lenses. But as I increase my lens roster, my loyalty to the Canon brand will strengthen, as it will not be economically viable or smart to switch to another brand. This is an example of loyalty I do not hate having.

Another case of loyalty I seem to have developed is towards Apple products. In my life, I have owned two iPods, a MacBook (two, if you count the one I bought and then sold because I thought I made a bad decision) and now an iPhone. To be honest, having an iPod is not a case of loyalty, because they work with Windows computers, which I had when I bought my first one. And the MacBook? I bought that in a pique of rage over Microsoft and Windows Vista, as in I found Windows XP to be perfectly all right, and I had no intention of getting a Vista computer when my XP PC died. And the iPhone? It was a tough call, but I went with it because the Android phone I was looking at jumped in price to 10,00 $ less than the iPhone, so it made sense to bite the bullet and go for it.

So with Windows, it’s ultimately a case of becoming brand disloyal. I didn’t like what Windows was becoming, so I jumped ship to the other big market player, and have been mostly happy since. I may be forced to relent at some point in the future and buy a slimmed-down laptop with Windows ‘whatever’ in the future, but for now I am perfectly content with my MacBook.

My car is an interesting creature. I am by definition loyal to GM right now, since I own a GM car. But it’s loyalty by necessity. Had Meadow Lake had a Honda or Toyota dealership, I would have bought a Fit or a Yaris, respectively. And when my little shitmobile dies, I will be buying a Honda or Toyota. But most likely a Honda. Why? Well, the first car my family had was a Mazda 323, which has been replaced by a Honda Odyssey and a Honda CRV (sequentially). I know Honda and am comfortable with it. In short, my family is loyal to Honda. In fact, I would not have shopped around when buying my car if the options were more than the Big 3 in Meadow Lake. I would have gone straight to Honda.

Is brand loyalty a bad thing? Probably not. We, as humans, do tend to stick with what we know. It may be, at times, to our detriment, but it is how we are wired. There are many examples of products out there that are less well-known, but would serve our purposes just as well if not better than the brands to which we are loyal. But we generally ignore them, because they are different.

That’s what I have to say on the topic. Reading back on this, there really isn’t a thesis here. But I don’t really care. It took me three days to sit down and write this. I lost my initial drive and idea. This is what I was left with. Deal with it.