I may have spoken about my love of loyalty cards in the past, but as far as I am concerned “loyalty” is just part of the name. In fact, I decided long ago to give up any ideas of brand loyalty. The great majority of companies don’t really care about their customers except in a mercenary sense, and I believe that I and my fellow customers are better off if we take the same view of them.
When it comes to things like energy providers, insurance companies, and so on, switching as soon as a contract ends is one of the most oft-repeated pieces of advice. Personally, I’ve no plans to give up repeating it, because it’s not difficult to do, the savings can be big, and yet a lot of people don’t really bother. Almost none of these companies are interested in rewarding customer loyalty, just in getting new customers. When your contract runs out or comes up for renewal, prices often rise massively because they know a lot of people will just blindly stick with them. It’s far better to take the time to go to another company fishing for new custom and get a brand new introductory discount.
If I’m not loyal to my utility providers and the like, I am certainly not loyal when buying ordinary off-the-shelf products in my weekly shop. I know some people who have developed a fierce loyalty to a Brand A’s version of Product B, and won’t even look at any other brand because they think it won’t be the same. Obviously that’s their choice, but this approach is alien to me. I may like Brand A’s tomato ketchup, for example, but if their competitor Brand B is on special offer and is much cheaper I have no qualms about buying that instead – and probably stocking up a bit. Most branded items or even supermarket own brands are pretty similar in terms of quality, so it’s pretty safe to buy on price as long as you don’t cross clear quality boundaries such as buying a value product instead of a standard. If you have never had the brand before, though, it might be worth trying it before you go so far as to stock up, just to make sure it doesn’t happen to be a brand you actively dislike.
When I Make Exceptions
I don’t make many exceptions to this rule. I may appear to be loyal to certain brands, but it’s usually just because I consistently seem to get the best value out of them. However, sometimes I make an exception because I find a brand is worth a small price increase for the extra quality. For example, this is often the case with items like electronics where buying cheap can easily be false economy (though professional and user reviews are a great way to check whether this is the case before you buy). In terms of everyday items, it is important to note that this doesn’t mean just buying the cheapest version of everything. For example, there are some products where I will happily buy supermarket value brands, and other products where I find that value brands and even some “standard-level” items are simply not worth getting at any price.