Last weekend, I realized I was running low on all sorts of things that a drug store would be good for. Moisturizer, deodorant, sunscreen, nailpolish remover, etc. I walked over to the nearest store, a CVS. I went in and tried to figure out what I needed. For the nail polish remover, I went with the CVS brand (and picked up one of those super cheap nail polishes, as I just want to have cute looking toes). But when it came to the moisturizer, they didn’t have what I wanted. Now, usually, I’m not that picky about products (at least, that was what I had assumed). I had tried a certain brand of face lotion (and an accompanying face scrub) when I signed up for a BzzAgent campaign. For this campaign, they sent full samples of the products, as well as coupons and info about the products. I tried them and liked them. At some point, I lost the moisturizer (I think I took it on a trip home and lost it), but I had really liked using it. I’ll admit, I’m not very good at the BzzAgent word of mouth promotions, as I end up feeling weird telling people about products (or in this case, talk about the product long after the campaign is over). But I didn’t think that the free trial would hook me. But when I went to CVS, they didn’t have it. And I figured I could just get something else, but the brand had already decided for me: I knew it was good, and I had no way of knowing how the other products were. I think I might have just gone ahead and bought something, but then I went to the deodorant aisle, and they didn’t have the brand I like there, either! And after realizing I was 0 for 2 on the main products, and realizing that all I wanted was a store brand (i.e. cheapest) 30 SPF waterproof sunscreen (which was not readily available for some reason), I gave up on buying any of the products (well, I bought the cheapo nail polish remover and nail polish because it wasn’t going to matter where I bought it).
I walked back home, and debated driving to the grocery store. I felt kind of silly wanting to get into my car to get a few items that I could have gotten at the store if I wasn’t so picky. My boyfriend suggested I walk there, since it’s not far. Which was the obvious thing to do, but I had been worried about how much time it would take (we had plans for later that day). Anyway, I walked to the grocery store and found the deodorant, lotion, store brand sunscreen, and some toothpaste (I knew there was something else I was running low on). And the toothpaste? It was a brand name, and likely the one I had bought in the past. Picked up a quarter of a watermelon (impulse buy) and bought everything for my walk home.
This really got me wondering…how did I become loyal to so many brands? For the lotion, it was obviously because I had tried it and liked it. However, I think many products gain my loyalty by being the cheapest. If they’ve been the cheapest all along (like the Suave deodorant, unscented please!) I end up buying it because I know it’s a good deal. Some products (like those for, um, women) I used to buy whatever was cheapest (but a brand name), and now I automatically buy that brand. I’ll buy 2-in-one head & shoulders, either brand name or store bought, but I don’t bother with other types of shampoos/conditioners (unless I get enough scolding from friends who think I need to do more for my hair). And for pain pills, I’ll buy the store brand, because I really only care about the active ingredients present. But I’ll buy naproxen sodium (generic Aleve) over aspirin, acetaminophen (generic Tylenol) or ibuprofen (generic Advil or Motrin). Again, I buy what works best, but this time I don’t care about what brand it is.
As a personal finance person, you’d think I would just buy whatever is the best value. I think, for the most part, I do. It seems that I get used to buying the same brand because it’s consistently the cheapest. I think I am more willing to buy store brands for food items (or like medicine, where the active ingredient is the key factor), but for personal care/beauty, I tend to be a bit more picky, even if it’s irrational (but really, only for certain items).
Do you have a lot of brand loyalties? Do you end up spending more because of it? Or are you like me and (for the most part) have inadvertent brand loyalties based on their consistent value over other products? What brands do you HAVE to have, and what are you willing to buy in the store brand? (which, sometimes, is made by the same company as the name brands, but that’s another topic for another time)