Switch on the television and you realize that most brands talk to women. That’s because she is the one who interacts with more brands on an everyday basis. She decides what soap comes home, what toothpaste comes home, what juice comes home and what salt comes home. If you thought consumer durables and electrical/electronic appliances are probably a man’s territory, think again. It’s the woman who decides the brand of mixer, juicer, stove, electric chimney, microwave oven, washing machine and perhaps even the refrigerator.
The consumer is not a moron. She is your wife. Well, that popular quote from a twentieth-century advertising great rings so true even today.
It is not to say men do not decide or buy things. They buy the car, the motor cycle, the television, the music system and similar goods where the house wife does not want to interfere. And sometimes, even the soap the man uses. And that’s precisely the point you realize that men and women consume brands differently.
When a man, at the behest of his wife or mother, walks into a store to pick up a soap, he flirts with every soap brand around. Unless he has been clearly told which brand to buy, he will pick up the one that catches his fancy. Not that he does not know what brand is used at home but just that he would love to try something new.
A woman picking up a soap would need a very strong reason to change the brand she takes home regularly. She loves the comfort that the soap that she uses delivers.
A brand is a commitment for her. And it is often only when the brand breaks that commitment that she looks else where. A sudden increase in price, an unexpected change in formulation or fragrance, a change in size and any of these discrepancies can instigate a break-up. Very rarely does the arrival of a new brand cause a loyalty shift. And in such cases, you would notice that there was already a sense of discontent with the older brand.
To understand the difference of brand loyalty between men and women, we will have to understand men and women a little deeper. You would agree that men and women are constructed differently.
From feelings to behavior to understanding to emotions, everything seems to be tuned a little differently in each of the sexes.
A woman treats brands like humans. Her relationship with a brand is like her relationship with other people. She seeks trust in a relationship. She seeks comfort.
She seeks value. She seeks positive influence. She takes her time evaluating a brand, and once a brand delivers what she seeks, she forms an unwritten commitment with it.
She hates breaking off with her brand because there’s a sense of uncertainty associated with a new relationship, and she really isn’t fond of going through the decision making process all over again.
Even men get into relationships with brands, sometimes, long and lasting ones. A man and his favorite drink, his after shave and his cars.
But, on the whole, given that their interactions with brands are fewer, men do have a lot of fun with brands for every opportunity they get. That would explain why he gets home a different brand of bread, or toothpaste, or face cream every time he is sent on an errand.
But let’s be warned. Women in metros are slowly imbibing qualities that we’ve always associated with men. And this has been seen even in their relationship with brands. They experiment, they flirt and they change their minds as often as their male counterparts do.
And considering that these are women with money to spend, marketers have taken notice of this trend of disloyal women consumers. Probably, as more and more of the 72% of the Indian population that lives in villages move out and come to the cities, men and women could become equally loyal or disloyal as far as brands are concerned. —