OPINION: Brand loyalty means we’re just comfortable followers

(Illustration by Savannah Thaemert | The Collegian)

If you have found yourself gravitating toward Ziploc storage bags in the store or any other brand name good because you’ve used it before and know it works, and are even willing to pay the extra 60 cents, then you have experienced brand loyalty.

“Consumers who are loyal to a brand remain customers because they believe you offer a better service and higher quality than anyone else, regardless of pricing or other financial reasons,” according to Retention Science article, “Customer loyalty vs. brand loyalty.”

Brand loyalty doesn’t just stop with Ziploc, Apple computers or Kate Spade, it even extends to places.

Take for example why you’re reading this column, which is associated with K-State.

You most likely chose to be at K-State because you knew it provided a quality education, along with educational and research advances that, unlike its tuition prices, haven’t wavered much.

However, there is more to brand loyalty than just quality and service.

We buy what we buy because it is what’s comfortable, Harry Beckwith J.D. said in his Psychology Today article “The surprising clout of comfort: Why do we buy what we buy?”

I find myself to be more brand loyal than I probably should be; however, I didn’t find myself coming to K-State because it’s where my family attended, which they in fact did not, or because the quality of the education was unsurpassable, which in some areas it is.

Ultimately, I decided to attend this palace on the plains because I felt comfortable; more comfortable here than anywhere else.

“Do we choose the ‘best,’ whatever that might be? Not that often. Instead, we choose most products and services the same way we choose a pair of slippers,” Beckwith said. “We choose the ones that just feel comfortable—the ones that are ‘just good enough.’”

For younger generations, this type of commitment comes in the form of retweets, shares on Facebook and likes on Instagram, and are said to be the most loyal generation to their favorite brands, according to Geoff Smith’s Inc.com article “Study: Millennials are the most brand-loyal generation,” after observing surveys by Elite Daily and Crowd Twist.

“We believe that Millennials are valuable to brands because they are early adopters and active brand ambassadors on social media,” according to the Elite Daily article “Elite Daily millennial consumer study 2015.

This, in combination with the idea of social proof, a psychological concept explaining that humans depend on others around them to help make decisions, could explain why millennials are so brand-loyal, Smith said.

Social media blows this up, but so do areas of population density. Why do so many people on campus walk around in the same brands? For example, The North Face, Birkenstocks, Apple MacBook laptops and Nike shoes populate college campuses.

As millennials though, we will always have a fear of missing out, but that goes to show that trying new things is OK and if we don’t like the way a certain brand’s product works, we can always go back to the good old brands we know, trust and are comfortable with.

We mostly follow the brands our parents and friends buy and have trusted for many years. In doing this, however, are we missing out on the best product for us because we’re afraid to step outside our brand-loyal zones?

In my opinion, I would have to say no. By being brand-loyal we are embracing the idea of quality goods, while staying comfortable and gravitating toward making more of our own brand decisions. While we are influenced by those around us, be it your family or your friends, in the end, your mom isn’t putting the Blue Bunny ice cream in your shopping cart, you are … and that is what brand loyalty is all about.