Is Brand Preference All in Your Head?

       5 min read

Recently, the Impulse Creative team got to debating the age-old Coke vs. Pepsi argument. Most people preferred Coke, a few preferred Pepsi, but one thing was clear- everyone knew exactly which one they liked. Keep in mind, most of us are Millennials, a group known for being very brand loyal. A Forbes survey reported that 60% of us said that they are often or always loyal to brands that they currently purchase. So it got us to talking…do we actually prefer what we routinely purchase or is our brand preference all in our heads?

To put our own taste preferences to the test, we set up a blind study with Coke, Pepsi, and generic store brand soda. Our five participants then tried to find the drink they stay loyal to. In the end, Nick, Britt and Remington could identify their chosen soda and Logan and myself (Chelsey) could not. That means 3 out of 5 of us do actually know the taste and buy the brand we like the best. So what about Logan and I? There were a lot of excuses thrown out like it was too warm and there wasn’t Captain Morgan in it. In my defense, I drink Diet Coke and so regular Coke is not actually my preference. But none of those negates the fact that we can’t identify a product we willingly purchase over competitors at every chance. Why do we buy Coke if we don’t even know what is tastes like?

That’s where brand loyalty comes into play. Loyal customers will consistently purchase products from their preferred brands, regardless of convenience, price, or in this case- taste. As it turns out, there have been a lot of scientific and marketing studies done on this debate. Even though the two drinks are nearly identical chemically and physically, people routinely strongly favor one over the other.

It Evokes Memories

To stick with the soda brand preferences, most people choose brands based on what their family purchased while they were growing up. That means drinking a Coke may bring you back to family reunions with loved ones or going on your first date with your now spouse, all drinking Coke products. Coca-Cola certainly hopes it does.

People Want to Feel Part of a Group

Let’s broaden the scope of brands we are looking at and consider technology. Regardless of price, quality, or anything else- 12% of consumers will stay loyal to a brand for social status. Given how fiercely loyal many Apple consumers are known to be, you may not be surprised to hear the phrase “Cult of Apple”. Recently, neuroscience research had found that the same areas that light up in the brain when thinking about religion also light up for Apple fans when they’re thinking about Apple products!
 If your brand is like a religion to you, you’re way past choosing your computer based on functional features.This group mentality also allows you to unite against an enemy. Part of creating brand loyalty is to position yourself against another company, like Coke vs. Pepsi or Apple vs. PC.

It’s Routine

Life is busy. You need to eat breakfast, drop off your kids at school, paint your nails in the car, make it to your 9 a.m. meeting, go to the grocery store on your lunch break, then get your car to the shop before it closes. Who has time to sit down and decide which soda tastes better? Many people continually purchase the same brands time and time again because it’s easier than finding a new one.

Factors like quality, customer service, and price frequently top the answers for why consumers shop their favorite brands but they don’t account for everything. Only 50% of consumers shop for the lowest price. For many brands, finding a niche of loyal supporters is number one in driving revenue and profits. Coke is on top of its game, not because it’s cheaper, tastier, or even more convenient to buy. They take up the most market share because they have more loyal consumers than Pepsi. If you want this kind of name recognition for your brand, and you should, start by using our free logo grader and find out what kind of message your brand is sending right now.

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Topics: Inbound Marketing

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