Confessions of A Brand Disloyalist

Photo on 2014-11-13 at 10.14 AMI work at home. My wife works at a high school. I work sporadically, but profitably. She works full time. My share of the responsibilities include the shopping and part of the housecleaning etc. Hers include keeping the books for my business and housecleaning. It’s a pretty good deal.

Now I like to ride my bike everywhere for exercise I can and live close to about 5 different supermarkets. a Loblaws, a Freshco, a No Frills, an Indian Supermarket called BJ and a Food Basics.

My first act of brand disloyalty.

I get weekly flyers from all these stores, check them out, find out where everything I like to eat or clean with etc is on special, and then head out. I keep all this stuff basically in my head because during the course of any given week, I will hit all these stores at least one time. So I am sad to report that I have no real loyalty to any one supermarket brand.

My second act of brand disloyalty.

I like yogurt and anything with that basic texture. I also don’t like a lot of added sugar and calories so I have three choices. Danon, Astro Zero and a new brand called IOGO, with some funny little dots over the I and the O.

So in my travels during the week I will check out the dairy case in all five stores. What I buy is the one that’s on that week for $1.99. Because the regular price for all of these brands is $3.49. And while I’m not a cheapskate, I’m also not a moron. If the deal is there and the stuff is basically the same, which I have determined all three of these to be since they haven’t done any sort of job of convincing me otherwise, I buy whatever is on for $1.99.

And you know what…I’ve been keeping track in preparation for writing this. There is always something on for $1.99.

My despicable brand disloyalty also applies to the fruit & vegetables I buy, the soups, crackers, cheeses, tin foils, pasta, sauces garnishes, baking ingredients, facial tissues, eggs, you name it.

Now you might think I’m unusual and I probably am a bit. But, believe it or not I see a lot of people exhibiting the same brand disloyalty to both the supermarkets they shop in and the brands they buy.

What can be learned here?

1. The lesson here for all you marketers with anything in a grocery store, any grocery store, is that brand loyalty, or disloyalty as the case may be, is directly tied to price. I know this because when I look in the dairy case for my yoghurty stuff, I see that the brand that’s the lowest price is always nearly gone while its regular priced shelf buddies just sit there.

2. It can be strongly argued that supermarkets themselves are a principal source of generating brand disloyalty, through through their weekly specials programs.

3. The consumer is a lot more shrewd ands savvy these days. They read flyers. They build little lists in their heads. They will wait out the specials and stock up. Not necessarily because they are all frugal types but because it’s a game they play with themselves. People feel good about getting a deal and they invariably will take advantage of it.

4. If you’re trying to build brand loyalty in today’s supermarket environment, good luck. Your product has to really be a one of a kind. If it’s not, then it turns into a numbers game, because that’s the game your customers are playing. And as much as I hate to say this, the skepticism that people have built up over the years means that advertising has pretty much become a non-factor In this area of the market, except for new product launches.

So there you have it. My confession and my abject disloyalty. I carry no shame though…I just like getting a deal.

PS: Of all the brands out there, probably the most loyalty on display is to the President’s Choice brands that are sold through Loblaws, No Frills, Zehyrs and a few other chains. That’s because they have done the best job of assuring customers that the companies that make President’s Choice brands are the same companies that make a lot of other premium brand products. They have also done an outstanding job of selling their own capabilities in original product creation.

A lot of credit for this goes to then Loblaws President Dave Nichol, who created the concept.There should be a marketing course on Loblaws. Because over the years that have done a lot of things very very well.


Jim Murray is a communications strategist, blogger, writer, art director and producer. He creates and implements strategically focused branding, advertising & promotion for companies in the SME & B2B sectors who appreciate solid creative thinking and value reasonable rates.

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