In this lesson, we'll be looking at brand preference, which is when we choose to use a specific company's product or service over other equal choices. Test your knowledge after the lesson with a quiz.
Defining Brand Preference
Which airline do you fly? Unless your answer is 'cheapest flight possible,' you have a brand preference. Brand preference reflects a desire to use a particular company's products or services, even when there are equally priced and equally-available alternatives. In fact, more often than not, brand preference indicates a desire to seek out a specific product or service, even when it requires paying more or expending more effort to obtain it. Brand preference is important to companies because it provides an indicator of their customers' loyalty, the success of their marketing tactics, and the strength of their respective brands.
Elements of Brand Preference
Imagine that you are the CEO of a company that sells office supplies, and your competitor just announced a major promotion to cut prices on their products. Should you be worried? Always! But you can be less worried if people have a strong preference for your brand, because that means you have loyal customers who are not going to switch just because the prices went down somewhere else.
In fact, you can be even less worried about your competitor's sale if your company has effective marketing campaigns demonstrating that your company is the best one overall. Even if your competitor's prices are low, people still have many reasons to shop with your company, and successful marketing tactics put those reasons front and center in the hearts and minds of current and potential consumers.
Do people believe that your company is superior and, likewise, its products and services? If so, your company has good brand strength. People believe that they will get results that are worthwhile from your company in terms of aspects like quality, value (in other words the bang for the buck), customer support, variety, and accessibility.
The Psychology of Brand Preference
There are two levels of brand preference. The first is a more limited degree of loyalty that some researchers call spurious loyalty, which primarily implies a bias towards a particular brand. With spurious loyalty, people may go the extra penny, or the extra foot, but not the extra dollar or mile. That is, they will go a bit further to buy a particular brand, or pay a bit more to shop a particular store, but will not be willing to patronize a particular brand come what may. Such fair-weather fans can be lured away to try another brand with a sufficiently strong incentive.
True (brand) loyalty, however, reflects an emotional connection to a brand, and a desire to forsake all other brands in the name of patronizing that one brand. There is a sense of 'This is my brand,' and sometimes a desire to show off the loyalty to the brand, also known as evangelizing. For instance, computer users tend to break it down by the operating system that they use, and they stick to it so tightly that they plan all of their computer-related purchases around it. They even self-identify on the basis on their brand and all that the brand implies. For example, you might happen to be a 'Linux Person.' You'd be a fan of things being customizable and open-source.
Brand preference is when you choose a specific company's product or service when you have other, equally priced and available options. Brand preference is a reflection of customer loyalty, successful marketing tactics, and brand strengths. Brand preference has degrees, and the highest degree reflects an emotional connection that can extend as far as self-identifying with respect to the brand.