Brand loyalty

Isn’t it strange how brand loyalty works?

Sweden is having a cost of living crisis at the moment, as are many countries worldwide. Interest rates are soaring, the price of energy and fuel is skyrocketing, and prices are rocketing.

One Swedish supermarket chain has prices that are much higher than the others, despite their suppliers saying they are receiving no more money than normal for their goods. As a result customers have started shopping elsewhere. Said chain has acknowledged that they have to look at their pricing and are having more special offers than normal. Customers, however, are not going back to shopping there. The reason? People who are already struggling feel exploited.

That got me to thinking about reasons we are loyal to shops and brands. I take all my shoe/key/leather repairs to a shop that has always done small work (extra holes in belts, quick stitching on a bag) for free. They have made so much more money from me over the years than they would have if they had charged me for the little things.

Decades ago, my bonus dad applied for loans to start a business at two local banks. One turned him down, one took a chance on him. His business was hugely successful and he made a fortune. The bank that turned him down spent those same decades trying to get him to transfer his business. He never would. Similarly, when I first moved to Sweden I had all my savings and pension money with me (quite a healthy sum) but the bank ‘everyone else goes to’ laughed at me for trying to open a bank account before I had a permanent job. I went to a smaller bank who showed me only kindness and went out of their way to help me. I still bank there today, despite the other bank and my employer getting me to switch. I will never change.

I asked my students what kept them going back to stores time after time, even when they had moved house or work and it was inconvenient. Some of the replies:

  • they let my child use the staff toilet
  • they allow me to keep my heavy parcels behind the counter while I shop
  • they offered me a refund when they didn’t have to

I wonder how many brands have unknowingly lost customers due to purely following the almighty buck?

Author: Janet Carr

Fashion, beauty and animal loving language consultant from South Africa living in Stockholm, Sweden.

2 thoughts

  1. I think it might be more than you think. I used to work for a Telecoms company (not going to mention the name) and received praise from all my customers except one. She was a real piece of work and when my system froze and then dropped the call she complained about me. The first complaint after 6 years as a temp. There was an investigation as she told my bosses that I had sworn on the call (I never swear on the phone). I was reinstated after 3 weeks and told not to call her and if she was to come through to me to apologise and hang up. Three months later I was sacked for this complaint because I had done as instructed and never called her back.

  2. This is a fascinating topic! I was thinking as well about what gets me to go back to some establishments (including doctors because we can choose which doctors we use) and random acts of kindness are what keep me going. We always go to the same organic grocery food store. It’s outrageously expensive so we buy either products we can’t find in the supermarket, like special flours or some fruits and veg, and we always buy cakes there too. They had a smaller branch in the town center and we always used to get our cakes there since my daughter could walk. We would enter the shop and my daughter would enter the shop and yell “croissant!”. But then one day, we went to the shop and they had run out of croissants… It was the end of the world for my daughter… So then, my husband would walk ahead of us to make sure there were croissants and then let Emma (my daughter) order if there were any. Then one day, the usual sales lady just offered her a croissant… That was so nice of her! Even my doctors know what I need before I have to ask!… I just have to sit in the chair and say “the usual!” and they know! A good shop is a shop that does excellent customer service. It doesn’t matter what they sell, as long as they deal with us as humans and not as people who spend their money.

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