In recent years I have noticed that many people not just like or dislike products and their brands, but really love or hate them. ‘’I love Starbucks!’’ ‘’I hate Pepsi, but love CocaCola!’’ The emotions which are connected to brands are strong and deep, and for that reason very difficult to change. In studies positive word of mouth and brand loyalty have increased willingness to pay a price premium and also forgiveness of brand failures. In a sense people create a relationship with brands. A friend of mine got into a fight with her boyfriend over a chocolate spread. They were shopping together, the boyfriend wanted to buy Nutella, highly branded product, which paid a few euro more than a similar bulk product that tastes probably the same. My friend, who doesn’t care so much about the brand, said that they should buy the bulk product; she thought it was stupid to pay more just for the brand. Her boyfriend got really upset, and all in all got his Nutella. –A real love for the brand I would say.
Food products packaging and especially brand plays a significant role when you choose the product in the grocery store. You can almost say that brand creates a flavor to the product. We have gone a long way from people buying say beer from a local manufacturer. The product was not standardized as branded products are, but it didn´t really matter in those days. Today people go to a grocery store and they know exactly what beer brand they want and they know what the beer will taste when they drink it. The beer-shopper will pick a suitable brand for his/hers personality, and it is all part of the pleasure or making the purchase. Afterwards he/she will represent the brand when sitting in a party with the beer bottle in his/hers hand with his/hers friends. The consumer really loves the product.
All this has been a constant trend for decades now. People appreciate brands and are willing to pay more money for products that are branded. However we have suffered of recession in Finland for more than six years now. Today people are willing to pay less money for food and are ready to compromise in buying branded food vs. ‘’nameless’’ food. In magazines food price comparison articles are more and more popular. Also advertising just with offer prices has increased its popularity. For example Lidl, a grocery store, which have branded itself to a place that offers the lowest prices to its customers, has increased strongly its market position in ten years. Also Finland’s traditional grocery store chain owners S-ryhmä and Kesko have responded to the competition by creating new food category lines, ‘’nameless’’ products with lower prices.
Is the recession weakening the value of the brands? When the economy turns upward, will the brands raise their heads? Will food products and grocery stores compete more with brand or price in the future? Are people willing to pay more money for food in the future after they get used to these low prices? Will brands be loved in the future? –Time will tell.
Rajeev Batra, Aaron Ahuvia, & Richard P. Bagozzi, Brand Love, 16 / Journal of Marketing, March 2012