The End of Brand Loyalty: Marketing Today

James Surowiecki: The End of Brand Loyalty : The New Yorker.

Great piece. Surowiecki tells us the story of Lululemon and how they went from the absolutely must have clothing to having the founder step down to a non-management role to having its sales “decelerate meaningfully.” Also, the founder blamed some of the quality control problems of his clothing on some women being too fat to wear it. Yeah, that’s not going to grow your bottom line.

The rise of “information overload” — which, by the way, doesn’t exist — means that you can find out just about anything you want to before you lay out cash for it. In fact, in many areas, you expect it.

1959_Impala_Convertible

“See the U.S.A. in your Chevrolet,” sang Dinah Shore for years. Dinah didn’t have to contend with online consumer reviews when hawking this ’59 Impala.

For years, General Motors built sales for the entire corporation on brand loyalty and on a stair-step approach to marketing. Chevrolet was the entry-level vehicle. You could stand pat with larger and more luxurious Chevys, or, if you wanted to truly be seen as upwardly mobile — “keeping up with the Joneses” is what we called it — you started in a Chevy, graduated to a Pontiac, then a Buick, then an Oldsmobile and finally, for those rarified few, Cadillac, “the standard of the world.”

It was easier to be brand loyal when you had no idea if the Chevy you wanted to buy was a piece of shit or not. Now, there’s no excuse. I just Googled “2014 Chevrolet Impala review” — in quotes — and got 591,000 hits. You don’t need all of those; you can get the gist in the first page of results and even have several virtual ride-a-longs, thanks to YouTube auto reviewers.

The way we shop today bears no resemblance to how we shopped 10 or 20 years ago. So why do we market the same ways?

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