John White, MBA en Social Marketing Solutions, Professions, Workers, Careers, Social Media Columnist • Inc Magazine 16/9/2017 · 2 min de lectura · 2,6K

Brand Loyalty is Not Dead (It Merely Shifted)

Brand Loyalty is Not Dead (It Merely Shifted)      

If you ask people this question, you are likely to get a lot of heated responses. Never mind that people generally pick a cell phone manufacturer and stick with it for years out of the need for seamless transitions.

But most people will tell you unequivocally that brand loyalty is dead. They may not be entirely wrong -- brand loyalty as your parents and grandparents were used to it might actually be dead.

Historically, there were some specific reasons for brand loyalty and certainly many of those reasons don't apply today, but brand loyalty may have just shifted to adapt to the times.

Why does brand loyalty matter?

In today's consumer landscape, it doesn't even really make sense to be brand-loyal. We have a lot of choices and most of those choices are pretty good, so people more often choose convenience or cost preferences over brand loyalty. But back in the early days of America, having the best product was what sold products.

Many people were producing things that were sub-par, and consumer concerns about quality became a sort of de facto brand loyalty.

This is when brands like General Electric, Winchester, RCA, and GoodYear came on the scene.

After the industrial revolution really had a chance to take hold and everyone was basically manufacturing things that were higher in quality, though still to varying degrees, brand loyalty was won oftentimes through advertising and marketing.

Tide is a perfect example of this.

Proctor & Gamble was the first one to discover the perfect recipe for laundry detergent, but knowing the competitors could get ahold of the product and make a reasonable facsimile of it, P&G spent time and money on marketing to set Tide apart. According to the American Chemical Society: "the company would conduct shipping tests that involved manufacturing some of the product, shipping it to select markets, trying out advertising strategies in those markets, polling consumers about the product, and then refining the detergent based on the results of testing."

A great deal of effort was put into packaging, marketing, and advertising, which led to Tide becoming an instant success with consumers once it fully rolled out.

Loyalty programs saved and then maybe finally killed brand loyalty

Way back in the 1980s, some of the first consumer loyalty programs emerged in the form of airline points. There was even a man in the 1990s who hacked the brand loyalty sphere by buying 12,000 pudding cups, which earned him 1.2 million airline miles. But today there are so many customer loyalty programs and cards that it now adds up to an average of 29 memberships per household. People are getting burned out on brand loyalty:

  • 77% of people retract their brand loyalty faster than they did three years ago.
  • 71% of people don't believe these programs even work.
  • 61% of people have switched brands within the last year.
  • 23% will have a negative reaction at the mere suggestion of another brand loyalty program.

Brand loyalty is changing

There are still some brands that have a loyal following, though the reasons may be quite different today than they were for your grandparents' generation. Google, Amazon, and Apple are the three top companies right now for brand loyalty. Everything else is pretty well negotiable:

  • 78% of Millennials say that brands have to work harder to secure their loyalty.
  • 64% of Millennials say they are still pretty brand loyal.
  • 63% of Millennials use many of the same brands they grew up with.

Financial reasons, personal recommendations, and the wow factor are some of the reasons that Millennials will still switch brands, but one of the most noticeable reasons has to do with public image problems. We've all seen calls for boycotts of certain products because of business practices, and in fact this accounts for 32% of the reasons why Millennials will switch brands.

Mobile phones, clothing, and health and beauty brands are the three top categories for Millennials' brand loyalty, and all other products are going to have to work much harder to keep customers coming back.

Is brand loyalty really dead?

Brand loyalty as your grandparents experienced it is certainly dead. Quirky advertising alone is no longer enough to capture and retain a consumer base, and getting existing customers to stick around is harder than it has ever been. But if you have a quality product, good customer service, and the will to do whatever it takes, you can capture the next generation of loyal customers.

Learn more about brand loyalty from this infographic from Rave Reviews.

Barbara Henslee 29/9/2017 · #15

The death of brand loyalty can be attributed greatly to the world wide web. Our grandparents didn't have the benefit of researching and comparing products as easily as we can on the internet. Sure, they could compare and discuss with their local community: Fence talk, church socials, barfly chat. Today, we have access to infinite reviews, discussion forums and a multitude of purchasing channels. Gramps' choices were slim. Great buzz...sharing broadly.

Sadman Ishrak 17/9/2017 · #14

#13 You are right!

Devesh 🐝 Bhatt 17/9/2017 · #13

#12 competitive advantage.

+2 +2
Sadman Ishrak 17/9/2017 · #12

John! Your writing is amazing by itself and yet you added an infographic to add more value to the content. Thank you for sharing such great content.

But how can startups get a share of the market and dominate it? Like such a high percentage of millenials are loyal to the brands that they grew up with.

Jerry Fletcher 17/9/2017 · #11

Great recap John. The infographic alone is worth extended viewing. You can't buy brand loyalty as the users of loyalty programs found out the hard way. That is particularly true for small and medium size businesses. Repeat purchase is the original metric of brand loyalty and should be the one sought out by entrepreneurs. That, of course, assumes you have a product or service which can be purchased multiple times. All things are no longer equal and the availability of a larger information base of consumers viewpoints have (and will continue to) make developing repeat purchase harder than it was in the past.
We've actually come nearly full circle. The product or service must be better than other offerings. Customer service must be on par or better. Communications about the product or service must be built on trust, not spin. Price may not be as much of a factor. Once again, Loyalty must be earned.

+1 +1
David B. Grinberg 16/9/2017 · #10

Thanks for another excellent read on a timely topic, John. I'm tagging @Chelsea Krost who may have further insights into Millennials and brand loyalty. Nice graphic too!

Lisa Gallagher 16/9/2017 · #9

Well, well.. this was packed full of info with the back links @John White, MBA, thanks. I had to stop and think for a second if I'm loyal to one brand anymore? I think the only thing I may be loyal to would be certain brands of food(s) I buy. I admit, I go for products that are within my budget vs. brand name in *most* cases. When it comes to a larger purchase IE: Cell phone or a PC eg, I will compare brands but I won't go with a generic. Great info graphic, a lot of work went into that! As for the cell phones and bitcoin- wow... that was news to me! I don't buy bitcoins, I'd be curious to know if others have purchased? Honestly, I don't know much about them?? Should I be embarrassed to admit that? Tide, I think everyone purchased Tide from the time I could remember through the 80's. Hey I will go for generics now.. most of them are made by brand name companies anyhow. Very informative, thanks and shared!


Great piece, @John White, MBA. There is so much competition today that I feel that many go for the best deal. Plus, there are so many brands to choose from so why not try something new. I agree with @Debesh Choudhury, it's not practical to stay with one brand.