Brand loyalty in modern technology products is one of the main ingredients for success when launching a new item. It is one of the fundamental reasons behind having a brand image and name associated with a product, as they are easily identifiable and can mean a huge deal if associated with positive features.
Once a brand has built up a great reputation, they need to stay on the top of their game product-wise in order to maintain that level of reputation. If they don’t bother to do the latter, the reputation of the brand can still be enough to drive fantastic sales resulting in the consumer being the one who is losing out! More and more, consumers are paying attention to the product over the brand, so the big boys of the tech industry need to watch out…
‘Fan Boys’ (and Girls)
It’s common to see on the internet that ‘fan boys’ – or people who out-right support a brand no matter what – will do whatever they can to impress their bias onto others. This kind of loyalty is fantastic for a lot of companies, as they essentially have an army of online posters, who will defend their product to the death. No one likes to feel they made a poor decision with the product they have purchased; I believe this commitment to defending their decision drives their desire to fiercely justify the product they have purchased to others.
Fan Fights to the Death
One of the most common wars that rages across the internet is between the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen comment sections riddled with posts about which one is better and why. It does amaze me the length and detail people will go into in order to argue with random others over why one company’s product is better than that of another.
The most common area of competition in technology – where brand loyalty is more important than anything else – is with smartphones. We upgrade our smartphones on a fairly regular basis to stay ahead of the latest trend. As a result, we often have a chance to weigh the ups and downs between smartphones in a quest to find the best one. It is a situation many of us will have been in before, but how much can you honestly say was not swayed by brand loyalty? One of the most common examples of brand loyalty amongst smartphones is with Apple and their iPhones. The iPhone isn’t regarded as the best phone out there feature-wise or specification-wise (nor are they the best phones from a hardware perspective), but time and time again you will get people purchasing new Apple products without even a second thought.
The level of commitment shown by Apple “fan boys” is truly quite stunning. When you see hundreds of people camping in tents outside of an Apple store just to get their hands on a new piece of technology they have never used before, you know they are loyal! This level of commitment and blind-purchasing happens with very few other phone manufacturers. Of course, the driving force behind this level of commitment is entirely brand loyalty; I guarantee if Motorola released an identical product to Apple in every single way, Apple would still win hands down.
There is nothing more uncomfortable to see on forums and comment sections than fans of Android battling it out with iPhone fans because, at the end of the day, it accomplishes absolutely nothing. With all products in technology, they all have their pros as well as their cons and in any online argument you’ll only ever get a huge wall of biased text from either side. Brand loyalty is behind all of this, but what makes people become loyal and stick to a product line for generations to come?
Where Does Brand Loyalty Come From?
You only need to make one fantastic product to gain a fan for life and this is one of the primary reasons why Apple’s iPhone has so many fans. There was a point where the iPhone was truly innovative and it was the best phone money could buy. It was also a product never before released from Apple, known primarily for its music playing devices and, among creatives, for its computers. The iPhone was fantastic, it built upon the already loyal fans of the iPod and gained many more, as people were genuinely impressed and happy with the device.
Once this happens, logically the next iteration of said device would only get better and people would happily move to the next upgrade without any consideration for what the competition may have to offer. Once a company has achieved this level of loyalty, for them it is absolutely fantastic because it means that even if the company doesn’t go onto create the greatest product on the market, their loyal fans will still rack up absolutely amazing sales figures and spread the word that the said device is perfect in every single way.
Quality is at the heart of loyalty, and the perceived standards of a product are what really give it an edge. This is why many smartphone manufacturers were quick to defend themselves when rumours emerged that devices were being manufactured by children working extremely long hours.
Appearance is also one of the most important aspects for majority of users over any kind of functionality. Hey, if a device looks fantastic, it must be fantastic right? It would be nice if this was true, but in a lot of cases it is not. There is no doubt the iPhone looks like a brilliant and sexy device, but it terms of practical use, it’ll get scratched and cracked extremely easily. With smartphones, it is all about creating this image of perfection.
The Impact of Loyalty
The thing is, this level of commitment doesn’t just stop with consumers, it can be seen across many blogs and traditional print reviews of products that a slight bias is present. For a consumer who is sitting on the fence, they are not likely to benefit from this bias. For the company though, they couldn’t ask for anything better and can reap the benefits without any monetary input into marketing their product.
All in all though, this loyalty does have a negative effect on consumers, as their preconceived perception and image of a company’s product may no longer be correct. This preconception will lead to the assumptions that one device should be better than another, but as with many industries – and especially with the smartphone industry – things can change quite rapidly. For example, iOS was once the largest mobile operating system in the world, but has recently been taken over by Google’s Android operating system.
Research and studies into brand loyalty have managed to split consumers into 4 separate categories:
- Hard-core Loyals – who buy the brand all the time.
- Split Loyals – loyal to two or three brands.
- Shifting Loyals – moving from one brand to another.
- Switchers – with no loyalty (possibly ‘deal-prone’ and constantly looking for bargains, or ‘vanity prone’ and so are looking for something different).
It’s difficult for competitors to target those who are already loyal to another brand because they will already be dead-set on something else. A prime example of how a back-lash of loyal consumers occurred is with the new Xbox One when it was announced it would require a 24/7 internet connection. This was a brilliant example of how usually loyal fans will put up with small imperfections with their brand, but when something as drastic as this occurred with the Xbox One people reveal that they do have ability to switch and will likely do so! So, while having an extremely loyal fan base is brilliant, you can’t afford to get on their bad side. Otherwise, you can lose a huge chunk of your sales, as well as their ability to spread good words about the product.
In conclusion, brand loyalty is something which is present in every part of the technology industry and for large companies it is such an important asset to have. While you do need a fantastic product at some point in order to gain loyal fans, once you have built up a fan-base, it becomes the brand people are purchasing for, rather than the product.
As a consumer, while is nice to feel a part of a brand and a group of people who all like the same products, for you to gain the most out of the products you buy, you cannot afford to be biased. If a company you previously didn’t like for whatever reason released a brand new product which does away with any previous concerns you had, it would be naive to just assume it would not work. The only one who loses out if this is the case is you!
Genuine research into new products, regardless of their brand, is by far the best way to approach purchasing technology products. So, the next time you have the chance to buy a new smartphone, games console, computer or any other piece of tech, take a moment to see which products offer the best experience and find reviews which aren’t brand biased and you’ll certainly be better off.