Can You Really Have A Relationship With A Brand?

77% percent of consumers don’t have a relationship with a brand.
People in US & Europe would not care if 92% of the brands would disappear.

So if you want to “converse” or “engage” with your potential audience you have to be among the 8% of all the brands in the world. Then you are fighting for only 23% of all the potential audience.
That is quite a small pie. Reflected to that it is not that surprising that you don´t get comments on your brand´s Facebook wall.
Although you should never use yourself as the target audience, I wanted to map out with how many brands I have relationship.

Below is the list and the results were quite shocking as I should be brand enthusiast by trade:

Hobby-related: Driven by passion
Nike (Basketball, running, tennis)
Reebok (Crossfit, although I am likely switching to Nike because the passion runs deeper)
Technics (Mostly one product, the epic turntable SL-1200, which has already been discontinued. I own four though, so I should be covered.)

Appearance: Driven by vanity
I generally only buy brand clothes, but I would not cry a river if I some of those brands disappeared.
Watch: Omega (although I would not mind upgrading to Rolex and later to Patek Phillippe, if I ever had the money)

Technology: Driven by convenience
iPhone, iPad, MacBook: Originally using Apple product was driven by the quality, but I have to honestly say I don´t even know have the competitors reached their level. Maybe they have, but I am already locked in Apple ecosystem and I am too lazy to reach out.

Personal care: Driven by price
For deodorant I naturally use Rexona, because it is our client.
For the rest of the personal care I mostly buy the cheapest or what happens to be easily available.

Food: Driven by quality & ideology
I try to eat healthy food and things, which are not filled with sugar and artificial coloring. Generally the rule of thumb is then to stay away from the big brands as they are mostly filled with all the above-mentioned crap.

Indulge: Driven by the quest
For coffee beans, I want to get the best quality but it is not really correlated to brand loyalty. I want to test out different beans from all over the world, from different roasteries and made with different coffee machines.
The same goes with my weekend tipple. I am sucker for expensive gins (example of how advertising and branding works), but again I would not want to drink Plymouth for the rest of my life. So although I am passionate about my coffee and cocktails, the passion translates to constant exploration between different alternatives instead of loyalty.

Working in advertising, I am probably way more brand-driven than average Joe. I generally select brands and appreciate brands. What was surprising for me to notice was that how little brand loyalty I had across the board. Although consuming good definitely shapes my identity, the brands seem to play lesser role I had thought. Only non-exchangeable category was the passion (and only part of it: sports, music) and to some extends technology (I am just too lazy to change my whole digital device ecosystem).

Being a passion brand is hard and it takes time. For certain categories it might be totally impossible (do you feel passionate about your toothpaste?). It might be wiser for your brand to compete in other categories listed above. Or try to be like Apple, where your consumer is locked-in to your system and the cost and effort of getting out just feels too daunting.

No matter what you do, you have to be ready for aggressive competition. Brand loyalty is mostly myth and no brand is safe from consumer churn. Half of the people who described themselves as highly loyal to brand were no longer loyal a later. The reason for this is simple. Even though you think you are unique, there is always opportunity to upgrade (better quality, more features, and more bragging rights) or downgrade (cheaper).

To succeed in this competitive marketplace you must be realistic about how much (or actually how little) consumers care about your brand, constantly improve your products and attract new consumers. You will be losing your current ones eventually.

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