Brand Loyalty

I’ve been frustrated lately with some of my tried and true products.  These are products that I have used for years.  I know it’s nothing new for brands to try to reduce the costs of production, but as a consumer, my patience has been tested recently.

I’ve been buying Puffs facial tissues for over 30 years.  My mom was loyal to the brand, and upon reflection, I find that many of my brand loyalties were inherited.  Mom bought Puffs exclusively, due to the non-shred factor.  If a tissue was accidentally left in a pocket, it wouldn’t shred in the washer and dryer.  No longer true – but I’m not one to leave a tissue in my pocket so it hasn’t really been a problem for me.  What IS a problem for me is when I tear the “Designer” box just trying to get the darn things open.  I know this sounds ridiculous, but the perforations are just not the same quality that they used to be.  So instead of a beautiful designer box, I wind up with this decorating my toilet tank.

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My other half (MOH) and I have recently become disenchanted with Velveeta, although for different reasons.  I was very disappointed when the printed weight/measurement was removed from the shiny foil packaging.  How the heck am I supposed to quickly figure out how much Velveeta to put in my nacho chili-cheese dip?  This is not a matter with which to toy around.  I had decided I must speak up, but while I was still composing a strongly worded email in my head, Kraft thankfully reprised the blue printed guidelines on the foil covering.

Once that crisis passed, MOH started complaining about clumping.  Let me tell you, it’s not fun when you’re trying to make cheesy scrambled eggs and your processed cheese product starts sticking to the cheese slicer like salt water taffy.  I see it now says, “Melts better” on the package.  That’s great!  But what would really be better, is if the melting happened once we got it in the pan, not while we’re trying to slice it off the block.

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As long as I’m on a tear, let me tell you about my home hair highlighting kit by Revlon.  Yes, I’m still highlighting my hair at home – or I was – goading a member of my family into pulling my hair through a plastic cap with a tiny crochet hook.  But then I bought a kit that didn’t have a crochet hook.  Exasperating, but surmountable.  I bought a second box of product thinking I could keep the plastic hook and use it with the previously purchased box.  Guess what?  The second box was missing the powdery part of the product.  Guess their slogan of “Be Unforgettable” hasn’t trickled down in the organization to the packaging quality department.

Human beings are creatures of habit and are prone to brand loyalty.  Doubt it?  Just read product reviews – particularly long lived products that are often the victims of “improvement”.  I saw some reviews regarding Puffs that made my complaints sound like high praise.

I can also get my knickers in a twist when a favorite brand/product gets new packaging.  I’ll be standing in the grocery store aisle and think wait, what?  Is this the same thing?  Is it just a label change?  Did they change the active ingredient?  The secret sauce?  Are they removing my gluten?  I hate when they mess with a product to which I’m very loyal.  It really brings out the worst in me.

I decided to survey a small group of consumers for their thoughts on product loyalty.  I found that this focus group (my two sisters and a couple nieces) feel quite strongly about their tomato products, although they were not united.  Actually, I’m afraid I might have effected a Heinz vs Hunt’s fissure in the family.  And it cut even deeper than that.  When one relative expressed support for Heinz catsup, another declared, “Oh, I’m totally loyal to Hunt’s ketchup.  Also to the spelling with a K.”  So there’s that.

My dad was famous in our family for caring more about the brand of cottage cheese he ate (Michigan) than the brand of car he drove.  I suspect it had something to do with product consistency.  There is a lot to be said for that.  People love good products!

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So I can only hope that today’s product developers are paying attention to their consumers’ feedback.  Nobody wants to live through another New Coke fiasco.  Mrs. Grass needs to put the golden nugget back in her soup.  The Ferrara Candy Company needs to return our ORIGINAL Brach’s maple nut goodies.  And although I understand that Mr. Whipple is gone and won’t be coming back, could we please, PLEASE, just be done with those annoying Charmin Bears.

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