For decades, many of the largest companies have relied on brand loyalty and the dedication from countless consumers to purchase their product time and time again. Regardless of a competitor’s attempt at luring consumers away, these companies felt secure that their brand loyal customers would never leave them.
Consumers from various demographic groups have always participated in brand loyalty. Their attitudes towards brands may have differed depending on their age, gender, ethnicity, social-economic status, etc. but they all had their “favorite go to” items. But that began to change with the maturation of the Millennials.
They were not about to buy their parents’ beer until they tried the rest and “big commerce” represented the status quo. It became more about finding the “new” thing or buying “local” to support their families, friends and neighborhoods. In hindsight, all a commendable cause.
Brand loyalty, once a difficult challenge for many regional or new small market businesses became obtainable, to a degree. Trying to compete with the larger, long standing brands that once seemed unsurmountable was now attainable.
But that all changed with Covid-19.
Over the last six months, consumers have shown an overwhelming preference for product availability rather than simply brand loyalty, regardless of their generational or income gaps. What was available, became what was purchased.
The pandemic changed a plethora of consumer behaviors. In some cases, it created brand loyalty and in others, destroyed it. The more traditional Baby Boomers are streaming more tv, shopping online more frequently and communicating socially with their friends and family using Zoom and Facetime. Many Millennials hit the hardest with unemployment, have had to cut back on non-discretionary spending. And, while most of them were already regularly making online purchases, they increased their usage of delivery apps and coupon apps to save money.
With no clear end of the pandemic in sight, people are getting used to this “new normal”. It is molding the next version of what “normal” is and will look like moving forward, if not indefinitely, at least for the foreseeable future. All these behavioral changes will either destroy or create brand loyalty, depending on the brand itself. It may help behemoths like Amazon, Target and Walmart become even larger, but it may also create opportunities for some smaller, lesser known brands to say… “Here we are. Try us out”.
With the variety of affordable, advertising mediums now available to reach people during these challenging times, such as OTT, CTV, Social Media, In App, Podcasts and Influencer Marketing – regional companies now have a chance to reach consumers who are no longer simply focused on brand loyalty. People have learned to accept change within their everyday lives and are beginning to really like some of the new things they’re being forced to try. Maybe trying a new brand of beer, pasta or chip isn’t such a bad idea. Let me see what’s in my pantry!