Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Brand Loyal

Mohamed_hassan via Pixabay

 I am an Apple girl: iPhone, iPad, MacBook. Last week, when I accidentally created a too-close encounter between my MacBook Air and a glass of iced tea, I never considered replacing my dearly departed computer with anything but a new MacBook Air.

Actually, I'm pretty brand loyal in other areas, too. Exhibit A: my collection of Kate Spade handbags. Exhibit B: Multiple pairs of shoes with the same name inside (Kate didn't win that contest). Exhibit C: My daily Starbucks run at which I order the same drink 95% of the time.

I could go on, but I won't. The thing is, I know what I like. And, when I find something I like that works, I stick with it unless I'm given a good reason not to do so. It's an easy way to combine something functional with something that brings me joy, not to mention that it makes shopping more efficient.

When I was younger, I had no desire to be an efficient shopper. As a young professional, I lived alone in a tiny town and I'd go shopping just for the fun of it.  Malls were in their heyday, multiple options abounded, and no one was shopping online (there was no online). The joy was in the hunt -- finding the perfect item, preferably at the perfect price.

My mom loved the mall. She was a big fan of quality over quantity, and an even bigger fan of sales and bargains that allowed her to have both. She wasn't materialistic, but she loved clothes and she loved creating just the right look for wherever she was going. She, too, had favorite brands, not to mention favorite stores whose layouts (and sometimes clerks) she knew all too well. 

I'm a lot like her (I learned from the best) but, these days, my brand loyalty has shifted, and my clothes are less likely to come from a trip to the mall and more likely to come out of a Stitch Fix box. I think my mom would have loved the concept of clothes landing on her doorstep, but I doubt it would have replaced her desire to shop in brick-and-mortar stores.

I was at the mall last week, on a mission to see if my MacBook could be saved or if it needed to be replaced. The Apple Store was humming, but the mall itself was quiet -- almost eerily so -- and I was shocked to discover that it closed at 7 PM. That leaves very little time between the end of the work day and the end of the retail day to "shop till you drop," little time to explore new brands to which we might ascribe our loyalty. 

No brand lasts forever, after all. As we grow and change, so, too, do our tastes. Some of the brands I swear by today didn't exist when I was my daughter's age, back when my mom and I shopped at malls that closed at 9, giving us time to dash in and out of all manner of stores in pursuit of the perfect fit.

Maybe it's that fit that keeps me brand loyal. When I know it works, when it fits my lifestyle and my budget, and when the service I receive encourages me to return, it's a win-win situation. For me, brand loyalty arises not only when the product is right, but when I feel valued as a customer. When that delicate balance is no longer met, it's time to look elsewhere.

But if that happens, I'd better hurry. The mall closes at 7. 

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