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Discuss: Brand Loyalty

The concept of “brand loyalty” is something that every company aspires to instill within its customers.  (Can we make people love our product so much that they will use only our product and accept no substitutes?)  My Father is a prime example of the type of fiercely loyal purchaser that gives advertising executives goosebumps.  Allow me to show you what I mean.

Waitress:  What can I get you to drink, sir?

Father:  Diet Pepsi.

Waitress:  Is Coke okay?

Father:  No, it’s not.

Where most people might be willing to trade one glass of caramel-colored cola for another, my Father considers any suggestion of substitution a personal affront to his character.  Like suggesting he might be a closeted Communist or kick puppies for fun and sport.

His seething hatred for Coca-Cola makes traveling to the states of Utah and Georgia a real challenge for him.  Should he enter a fast food joint to find that it only stocks Coke, it’s very likely we’ll be eating somewhere else that day.  And sure, he’ll drink a Dr. Pepper, a 7-Up or a Fresca if you have it, but offer him a Coke and it might as well come with a side of syphilis.

As for myself, I’m so loyal to Dial soap that I carry a bar with me when I travel.  I also refuse to buy any baking flour other than Gold Medal.  And if you deign to suggest that a Heath Bar can even hold half-a-melted-birthday-candle to the deliciousness that is the Skor Bar, then we can no longer be friends.  Such a philosophical chasm is simply uncrossable.

So what about you: are you fiercely loyal to a laundry detergent or a window cleaner?  Do you refuse to use any search engine but Google or buy only Apple products?  Can you really taste the difference between Pepsi and Coke?  Leave your thoughts in the comments.

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    61 comments

  1. GrammarGirl says:

    Why is “Father” a proper noun here?

    April 5, 2013/Reply
    • Belle says:

      For the purpose of blog posts, I’ve always made Mother, Father and Brother proper nouns. It’s not grammatically correct, I know.

      April 5, 2013/Reply
      • Chelsea says:

        But here it’s a specific father – Belle’s Father. Doesn’t that make a difference?

        April 5, 2013/Reply
        • Belle says:

          I don’t think it does. It’s just a rule I choose to break.

          April 5, 2013/Reply
  2. Lynn says:

    I have almost nothing in the way of brand loyalty. Sure, I can taste the difference between coke and pepsi. I just don’t care. I think the only things I have stayed remotely loyal to are Neutrogena sun block and Bumble and Bumble shampoo.

    April 5, 2013/Reply
  3. espie says:

    I have a little brand loyalty-although its pretty limited too products that are cost competitive and do a better job than others I’ve tried in the past. For example, Windex Blue Spray Cleaner-works great on glass, is pretty cheap, so I buy Windex.
    More expensive things-I’m less willing to buy based on brand alone. For example, I own a mac-book and an iphone but recently purchased a roku for my TV over an AppleTV. It performed better, has more flexibility and fits my needs better…

    Beyond that though, I don’t care about many product differences to only buy those-for example, if I want a Diet Coke, and the restaurant has Pepsi, I’m good with that.

    April 5, 2013/Reply
  4. Ashley says:

    I have brand loyalty to Reynolds aluminum foil wrap and Cottonelle toilet paper. Because other brands just don’t work. I can taste the different between Pepsi and Coke – Pepsi is sweeter, but I have no loyalty to one over the other.

    April 5, 2013/Reply
    • Jssaustintx says:

      Second on the Cottonelle.

      April 5, 2013/Reply
  5. Rachel says:

    As someone with very sensitive skin, I’ve developed brand loyalty to certain skin care products and cosmetics out of necessity. After much trial and error, I’ve found that Aveeno and Eucerin skin care products and Benefit cosmetics are the only brands that don’t make my skin itchy and red, so those are strictly all I will buy.

    On a different note, when it comes to over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen, I’m very loyal to store brands or generic brands. I have a strong (if somewhat irrational) belief that any store brand ibuprofen, no matter the store, somehow works better for me than Motrin.

    April 5, 2013/Reply
  6. d says:

    if my clothes get washed with anything other than downy fabric softener in april fresh they smell “wrong” and i rewash them. i long since have switched to method or other similar greener brands for virtually every other cleaning product i use, but i can’t quit downy. (if i still used traditional detergent i’d also be a fierce tide loyalist, as well, but that one i quit).

    there are plenty of other brands i will always choose to buy but when faced with no other options would probably switch (i.e. charmin toilet paper), but i’ll just wait to do laundry if there’s no downy.

    April 5, 2013/Reply
  7. ad says:

    I’m definitely loyal when it comes to certain cosmetics, because I’ve found what works best for me. Bare Minerals foundation, mineral veil, eyeliner and “warmth” (bronzer); Benefit erase paste concealer and Eucerin Aquaphor ointment for lips and winter whipped hands. Blush, eyeshadow, mascara and moisturizer on the other hand? I’ll use whatever came in my latest Sephora VIB goody bag. I only use Dial Lavender body wash (MUST BE LAVENDER) and Cetaphil gentle face cleanser.

    That’s really about it though. I don’t cook enough to have food brand preferences and usually just shop the store brand to save money (shout out to Target’s Up & Up line), other than my undying love to Dr. Pepper – although I will have a coke or a root beer if DP is unfortunately unavailable. I definitely have strong preferences – but few instances in which I’m truly 100% loyal to a certain brand. Fun discussion topic! I like the idea of a generic vs. “real brand” discussion too for future.

    April 5, 2013/Reply
  8. Airlie says:

    I always buy Cottonelle and Viva paper products. We have a lot of good family friends that work for Kimberly Clark, so I feel obligated. I will only drink Coke products.

    April 5, 2013/Reply
  9. Amanda says:

    I am sooooooo in love with this post!! Certain products has those tried and true ingredients that keeps people buying for years. There are certain things that I am die-hard fan of and there is not enough marketing dollars to change my mind. Below are just a few:

    Mouthwash-Listerine
    Cleaners-Anything with Clorox Bleach (Although my nose hairs are singed (LOL),the smell of bleach ensures me that my house is clean.)
    Jeans/Trousers-Gap (they have different lengths to fit my short torso)
    Purse-Coach (good leather that lasts forever!)
    Hot Sauce-If it isn’t Louisiana, I won’t eat!!!

    A future post about real vs. generic would be great as well.

    April 5, 2013/Reply
  10. Linda L says:

    Dove body wash, L’Oreal Superior Preference haircolor and Equal sweetener.

    April 5, 2013/Reply
  11. Ashley says:

    My brand loyalty lies with my running clothes–I’ll only buy Under Armour sports bras, and for the longest time, only one certain kind until they stopped making it. Mostly UA clothes, as well, but I’ve recently branched out to try Lulu (much to my wallet’s disdain). Cleaning-wise, any brand loyalties have come as a result of trying other stuff and realizing it doesn’t work (Windex, Swiffer, etc.)

    April 5, 2013/Reply
  12. S says:

    The story about your Dad gave me a good laugh. Being a native Atlantan, I am the exact opposite of him. I cringe at the suggestion of Pepsi when it is offered in place of Coke. Everything is Coke. Otherwise, I think I stick with Charmin toilet paper. Must be the cute bears and comfort!

    April 5, 2013/Reply
  13. Mrs Type A says:

    Like your Dad, I will only drink Diet Coke. Not Diet Pepsi. If they ask me if it’s okay, I say no, I’ll have water!

    April 5, 2013/Reply
  14. M says:

    I loyally spend my money on the products I consider “the best,” but for most of those things, I won’t refuse a competitor if it’s offered. For example, Lindt bars are the best chocolate in most grocery stores, but I’m not going to turn down Ghiradelli.

    Coke is the exception to this. No Pepsi for me. Even if it’s free, I won’t drink it. I’m from Georgia where, when offering a soft drink, we say, “Want a coke?” “Sure.” “Ok what kind? We’ve got Coke, diet, Sprite…”

    April 5, 2013/Reply
    • Vanessa says:

      I was born in the Midwest but was raised in Texas. When I moved back to my hometown I couldn’t convince anyone that it wasn’t confusing to refer to all soda as Coke!

      April 5, 2013/Reply
  15. H says:

    I’m so loyal to Coke that ready this post actually made me angry! How can anyone enjoy Pepsi?!! It is so sickening sweet and coats your tongue! Also, it has a lot more ingredients than Coke, and contains citric acid which makes it even more unhealthy than (already unhealthy) Coke. Yuck!

    April 5, 2013/Reply
    • Giggling Gourmand says:

      Yup. Diet coke is mana from heaven that is probably slowly killing me. Diet pepsi is undrinkable.

      April 5, 2013/Reply
    • Jess says:

      Coke is the only pop I’ll drink. Except when I’m pregnant. Then my body decides to go crazy and the only pop I can drink is Pepsi. Which I wouldn’t touch with a 10 foot pole otherwise.

      April 5, 2013/Reply
  16. Sam says:

    Volvo, Dove soap, 3M tape and sticky notes, Charmin, Bounty, Bounce, and Softsoap are all brands that will never be substituted in my life. If they have Pepsi and not Coke at the restaurant, I will have a water. In terms of clothing, there are too many great brands to be loyal to one, but if I had to pick a store, I could shop at only Nordstrom for the rest of my life and be happy.

    April 5, 2013/Reply
  17. Fiedlerin says:

    I am fiercely loyal to Schwalbe bicycle tires… especially the Marathon kind for my commuter bike. I ride through a lot of glass and debris and never had a flat tire with them.
    I can’t taste a difference between Coke and Pepsi, and I prefer Aldi store brand cola if I drink any at all.
    I love Eastpak backpacks (not sold in the US) and Timbuk2 bags.
    And HUE sweater tights for the Winter commute.
    I don’t mind trying new brands, though… I recently tried something from Athleta for the first time. While it didn’t work, the customer service was outstanding and I will try more products from them.

    April 5, 2013/Reply
    • Alex says:

      Ditto Schwalbe. I’ve had one puncture in since Marathons were invented. And I’ve worn them until you could see the lining. There is no other tyre.

      I’m brand loyal to German anything for bikes really.

      April 9, 2013/Reply
  18. Lynn says:

    The aluminum foil mention reminded me: Glad cling wrap! Oh, boy, I am definitely loyal to this, 100%. Generic does not stick to anything. I will go on a rampage if I find generic plastic wrap in my pantry. Heads will roll, ladies, heads will roll! That $^&% just ain’t right.

    April 5, 2013/Reply
    • Amy says:

      My mother, who is by her own admission the cheapest woman on the face of the earth, always said to buy premium cling wrap. And she’s right!

      April 5, 2013/Reply
    • Pancakes says:

      Costco brand (Kirkland) plastic wrap is the best…I like it better than Glad! (goes and hides)

      April 5, 2013/Reply
    • Ashley says:

      Target plastic wrap is the worst!

      April 6, 2013/Reply
  19. Mallory says:

    Definitely Diet Coke, Tampax (don’t ask me why, I’ve always used them and won’t switch), Kraft or Velveeta Mac n cheese (screw organic, gimme that processed shit), and 100% maple syrup. I refuse to eat or use that processed swill that populates our grocery store shelves.

    April 5, 2013/Reply
  20. ltjill says:

    Love your post Belle – so very funny and endearing!For me, if it’s diet – then Diet Coke not Diet Pepsi which has a very odd taste to me. Regarding laundry detergent – has to be fragrance free – can’t stand the smell of laundry detergent on my clothes and most decidely no fabric softners for that very reason! I can’t stand when someone walks by me in the office and it’s obvious their fragrance of choice is a fabric softner – usually Downey maybe Snuggle. Ann Taylor pants for work – fit never fails and no alterations needed. Lucky for jeans from now on!

    April 5, 2013/Reply
  21. Capitol Hill Barbie says:

    Heinz ketchup. Anything else is gross.

    April 5, 2013/Reply
    • Belle says:

      Like.

      April 5, 2013/Reply
    • cara says:

      Totally agree on the Heinz! Why are there even other brands of ketchup? If I spot stupid Hunts or disgusting Kitchen Recipe bottles on a table at a restaurant I immediately eliminate fries as a potential order.

      Jif peanut butter. No alternatives exist in my world.
      Coke- Never Pepsi.
      Q-Tips. Seriously. Do not stray… it’s not worth it.
      Kitchen Basics Stock
      Viva paper towels.

      April 6, 2013/Reply
    • Jes says:

      YES YES YES on Heinz. My boyfriend and I bought a bottle of Red Gold ketchup as its the kind of canned tomatoes we prefer and brand of salsa if I’m not making it fresh. We dipped ONE fry in and the bottle went straight into the trash. never. again.

      April 6, 2013/Reply
  22. Maddy says:

    There are lots of brands that I’ve developed a loyalty towards (Coca-Cola, Goya, Tide, Amazon) but no one gets my undying loyalty and enthusiastic endorsement more than Lush. Their products are absolutely amazing and I’ve never bought something that said it was going to do something for my hair or skin that didn’t come through. I use their shampoo, body wash, body lotion, salt scrub, leave in hair conditioner . . . everything. Plus, their sales staff/ customer service is top notch. I’ll never shop anywhere else for this stuff.

    April 5, 2013/Reply
  23. eduncan says:

    Trader Joe’s frozen food is superior to all other frozen food.

    April 5, 2013/Reply
  24. Mountaingirl says:

    I am loyal to the Hilton hotel chain- I stay with them every chance I get, even if it means staying at a different hotel than my colleagues. I think hotels is a particular instance where loyalty really pays off- since I’m a regular customer they treat me wonderfully with room upgrades and discounts and lots of free perks.

    April 5, 2013/Reply
  25. GoGoGo says:

    Love my JetBlue and my Sour Patch Kids–accept no gummy sour substitutes.

    April 5, 2013/Reply
  26. Amy says:

    Tab is my drink of choice, diet coke or diet dr. pepper in a pinch, but no pepsi ever! I’m also fiercely loyal to Tide, Crest, Neutrogena soap, and Duke’s mayonnaise. If you find something that works, keep buying it!

    April 5, 2013/Reply
  27. Pancakes says:

    Only with certain things.

    Like Puffs Plus tissues. And Charmin toilet paper (soft, strong, or aloe…not basic). Bounty paper towels.

    Yeah, I guess I like my paper products!

    April 5, 2013/Reply
  28. Lloyd and Wolf says:

    I don’t think I am loyal to any specific brand. I feel like everything made is a “knock-off” of something else. If you find value or quality in the no-name or cheaper item, then go for it!

    April 5, 2013/Reply
  29. JChica says:

    I refuse to eat any yogurt besides Fage 0% Plain. Not Chobani, Oikos, or Dannon… But only Fage. I pay something like 1/5 of my grocery budget towards it.

    April 5, 2013/Reply
  30. Amanda says:

    Most of my brand loyalties are with food- Gd Medal all-purpose and self-rising flour, Silk cake flour, Crisco, and Campbell’s tomato soup, to name a few!

    April 5, 2013/Reply
  31. Cynthia W says:

    Tide, Cascade, Dawn – other stuff doesn’t clean as well. Diet Coke – the only place that Diet Pepsi is tolerable is at the Mason Rd. Freebirds because they mix it differently and it tastes close to Diet Coke. However, I’ll rarely turn it down if DC isn’t available and I need my caffeine kick. But I do tend to avoid restaurants where I know they serve Pepsi, so it doesn’t come up that often.

    Quilted Northern – I’ve tried other toilet paper and I don’t like it.

    Other than those things, I’ll try just about anything else. At least once.

    April 5, 2013/Reply
  32. GingerR says:

    Goya canned beans. They’re properly cooked. I hate opening a can of beans and discovering they’re still crunchy and need another hour on the stove.

    April 5, 2013/Reply
  33. M. Leigh Williams says:

    I can absolutely taste the difference between Coke and Pepsi, and as any good native of South Carolina, I REFUSE to drink Pepsi. I’d rather have water!

    I also have a strange loyalty to Tide (my mother always used it), BMW’s (only type of car anyone in my family drives) and Essie nail polish (I find all others substandard… even though I’ve never tried any other types)

    April 5, 2013/Reply
  34. Vanessa says:

    Myself and every member of my immediate family has an iPhone, an iPad, an iPod and a Mac laptop or desk top. They should really feature us in an ad campaign! I’ve had other phones and computers and they are never as intuitive or dependable, nor do they come with excellent customer service. I also won’t trust my skin to anything but Neutrogena sunscreen and I buy Cottonelle toilet paper and Viva paper towels exclusively. I can taste the difference between Coke and Pepsi (Pepsi is way sweeter and slightly less carbonated) but I’ll drink either one

    April 5, 2013/Reply
  35. Rachel says:

    Pace Picante Sauce! Nothing tastes like it.

    April 5, 2013/Reply
  36. Caroline says:

    An Atlanta native, you know where my loyalties lie…

    God
    Family
    Coca Cola
    Braves Baseball

    I actually cringed when I read the word Pepsi on this blog. It stung a little bit. But listen we all fall short of glory and I won’t hold it against your father (with a lower case f for Miss Grammar Nazi up top). After all, I wore American eagle at one point in my life….like I said, we all fall short….

    April 5, 2013/Reply
  37. Sara says:

    It enrages me that Heath bars are so ungodly popular while Skor bars, which are ten times more delicious, can be so hard to find.

    April 6, 2013/Reply
  38. elz says:

    Yes! But, I’m the opposite- It’s Coke or nothing. No, Pepsi is not OK. Not at all.

    April 6, 2013/Reply
  39. Lisa says:

    Qtips and dove soap – only the bar. I also bring it with me when i travel. Nothing else is the same and i don’t feel clean if i use something else. I don’t drink soda, i’ve never liked it, but my family is die-hard pepsi.

    April 6, 2013/Reply
  40. Jes says:

    COKE PRODUCTS OR NOTHING AT ALL! (yes, my preferred type of bottled water is Dasani, my favorite juice as a child was Hi-C, Pibb is my homeboy..okay i lied, i really dont care between mr. pibb or dr pepper too much)

    When my mom first came to America she did nails at a very shi-shi nail salon in San Francisco. She was pretty successful. Because of that, she is incredibly loyal to Paul Mitchell products and OPI. She was a PM hair model in the early 90s so she was always going to trade shows and coming back with different hair styles – it was very strange to the 5 year-old me! She is a kindergarten teacher in her 50s now but still does nails in the summer. Essie and China Glaze have both sent her many, many bottles over the years – I think Essie sent 20 bottles to our home one summer. She donated them before we even got a chance to swatch them and politely refused their saleperson by telling him that only OPI feels right in her hands.

    April 6, 2013/Reply
  41. Karin says:

    I love Secret deodorant so much that when I moved to Europe I stocked up on it so I wouldn’t have to switch brands (did the same with certain hair products as well). I still buy it in bulk every time I visit, which may sound ridiculous. I maintain that it’s easier than breaking in a new brand — after all, who has the time?

    Regarding tasting the difference between Coke and Pepsi–I swore I couldn’t taste it for years. After spending my late teens and early twenties working in restaurants that stock Pepsi, now when I drink it I have flashbacks to those jobs. It’s funny how strong the tie is between taste and memory.

    April 6, 2013/Reply
  42. CSB says:

    Love this!!!

    For me: Charmin Ultra Soft toilet paper, which is probably my biggest non negotiable, original blue Dawn dish soap (dishes should not smell like flowers), Tide detergent, Bounty paper towels, and Coke products through and through (although I did have the Blood Orange Italian soda sold at Whole Foods the other night and it was GOOD.)

    April 6, 2013/Reply
  43. Rory says:

    I’m loyal to Sure deodarant. It’s the best stuff I’ve ever used, is unscented, and is cheap. I will only watch CBS The Morning Show in the mornings as it’s the one with the least amount of mind-numbing fluff. I’ll only watch ABC’s This Week if George Stephanopoulos is hosting (Christiane Amanpour fell flat for me).

    I agree with the Cottonelle, Tampax, and Coke as mentioned earlier.

    April 7, 2013/Reply
  44. Kathleen Lisson says:

    If I am wearing a brightly printed sundress, it is a Lilly Pulitzer.

    April 7, 2013/Reply
  45. Jamie says:

    Actually, Belle, you are correct to capitalize “Father” or Mother or Brother or Sister, etc. when you are using the noun as a substitute for the person’s name. For example, using your above exchange, you could easily substitute “Father” for a proper name, such as Robert, James, Ben, etc.

    April 8, 2013/Reply
  46. mochimac @ save. spend. splurge. says:

    Not loyal to anything except myself, my family and friends, and spending my money wisely.

    Brands are liars most of the time, as I’ve learned, and what you think you’re buying, is sometimes a changed formula that they haven’t told anyone about.

    All of the brands I am skimming and reading above, are all brands that people love for sentimental or psychological reasons, which is why brands have goodwill or brand value.

    That said, being aware of that, makes me even less brand loyal, and skeptical.

    April 9, 2013/Reply
  47. Grace says:

    This is a fun topic! My loyalties include:
    -Chipotle (no Qdoba or Baja Fresh…)
    -Tide laundry detergent (it upsets me when my husband accidentally purchases other brands)
    -Bounce dryer sheets
    -Charmin OR Kleenex Cotonnelle (my bodega doesn’t always carry both at the same time)
    -Lululemon pants (the opaque ones, at least)
    -Brooks running shoes
    -Fresh Step Multi-Cat (have tried the natural route, and didn’t like it)
    -Dove bar soap (absolutely cannot stand anything else)
    -OPI nail polish (the only brand that has staying power on my nails)
    -Target.

    I have never liked soda. I particularly can’t stand the taste of Pepsi, though…sorry, Pepsi fans.

    Agree with Sam above about Nordstrom, too.

    April 9, 2013/Reply