A company's main question in relation to selling their products or services use do be:
,,How do I get people to buy my product?" Nowadays companies still greatly appreciate the answer to this question but they have also realized that getting customers is not the only thing they need to do. In today's rapidly moving world consumers don't stick with products for life. Advertisements and an increased feeling of independence have created consumers that will switch brands or products as soon as the feel the need to do so. What company's look for in this consumer environment is creating a so-called brand loyalty.
This paper will explore the ways companies go about in creating this brand loyalty and it will investigate the circumstances and effects that come with it. It will start of by thoroughly explaining what brand loyalty exactly is. After that an overview of key success factors stimulating brand loyalty will be given and we will have a look at how these factors are influenced by different conditions. Examples will be provided. The relationships between brand loyalty and brand commitment and satisfaction will be explored. Finally a conclusion will be reached on how important brand loyalty is to companies and for what reasons.
What is Brand Loyalty?
Before one can give a definition of brand loyalty one first has to make the distinction between repeat purchasing behavior and brand loyalty. Repeat purchasing behavior is the actual rebuying of a brand.' So the behavioral aspect of this action. Brand loyalty also includes that behavior's antecedents'. This means the reason or fact occurring before the behavior. When talking about brand loyalty we can yet again make a distinction between two types: On the one hand we have spurious brand loyalty and on the other true brand loyalty. The former was defined by Bloemer and Kasper as the (1) biased (2) behavioral response (3) expressed over time (4) by some decision-making unit (5) with respect to one or more alternative brands out of a set of such brand, (6) which is a function of inertia.' The key word here is inertia meaning without commitment towards the brand. Their definition the latter, and the most important one in this paper, is exactly the same on the first five points but differs for the sixth adding is a function of psychological (decision making, evaluative) processes resulting in brand commitment.' In this definition brand commitment is the key word.
In laymen's words true brand loyalty refers to consumers sticking with a brand out of feelings of commitment towards that brand. For instance, when you bought a tube of Prodent toothpaste and you found it ok, you will not have to spend any valuable time on looking for other toothpaste brands, because you are already familiar with it. However, for a more brand-loyalty-sensitive product class like beer, the probability that a consumer will stick to one brand (like Grolsch Beer) is much higher.
In the next paragraph we will now look at the relation between brand commitment and brand loyalty.
Brand loyalty is based on the amount of brand commitment. The amount of commitment is not fixed, but can be considered as a continuum. The amount of commitment is based on the type of brand satisfaction. In this article, two types of satisfaction are taken into account. For the sake of this paper, a distinction has to be made between manifest and latent brand satisfaction.
First, what is brand satisfaction? Bloemer defines it as "the outcome of the subjective evaluation that the chosen alternative (the brand) meets or exceeds the expectations" (pp 314). Bloemer then makes a distinction between manifest and latent satisfaction. The distinction basically rests on the degree of elaboration. This in turn depends on the level of motivation and capacity that a certain consumer needs in order to evaluate the product. Manifest satisfaction is the result...
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