Is Brand Loyalty Costing You Cash?

Written By Jeff Hindenach
Last updated November 12, 2017

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July 24, 2015

Simple. Thrifty. Living.

Is your built-in brand loyalty costing you extra money every time you shop? It could be! Buying by habit, buying because your school wants points, or buying something with a perfect generic equivalent cost you every time you visit a store. Here are a few sneaky ways brands are getting you to part with your cash.

Happy families on television, successful business people in print, smiling children online: these images are designed to sell you on a particular brand and more often than not have nothing to do with the product itself. If you choose a breakfast cereal that is tasty, healthy and affordable, you’re making a great choice based on the product. Choose based on the slick advertising campaign, and you’re overspending just for a name.

On the surface, school rewards programs that offer books, equipment or money for box tops are good for your school and community — but look again. These programs are created by big brands’ marketing departments, not charitable organizations, to win over consumers who imagine that they are philanthropic and community-minded. The idea is that your child will ask for a preferred brand of soup, cereal or packaged goods not because it tastes good but because they feel like they’re helping out. By building brand loyalty at an early age, big manufacturers are trying to influence your children’s buying habits for years to come

Humans are visual creatures, and marketers know that. That’s why packaging comes in so many colors and styles: they’re all designed specifically to make you reach for your wallet. Here’s an experiment for you to try: the next time you go to the store, instead of reaching for your usual brand, try the less appealing-looking store brand. For some foods, like cheese, a brand name means quality, but a lot of the time, the generic version is identical to their costlier counterparts. The only thing that’s really different is the packaging. Spices, salt and basic baking supplies in particular are heavily marketed, but there’s very little variation across brands. Make sure that if you’re buying name brands, it’s because of taste and quality, not because of how they look.

Companies invest millions every year to investigate brand loyalty and identify ways to influence your choices. The more they can get you to identify with the lifestyle they promote, the more likely it is you’ll buy their product, even if the extra cost doesn’t translate into extra value. Knowing about these sneaky marketing tricks can help you make the best choices for your budget and your family.

About the Author

Jeff Hindenach

Jeff Hindenach is the co-founder of Simple. Thrifty. Living. He graduated from Bowling Green State University with a Bachelor's Degree in Journalism. He has a long history of financial journalism, with a background writing for newspapers such as the San Jose Mercury News and San Francisco Examiner, as well as writing on personal finance for The Huffington Post, New York Times, Business Insider, CNBC, Newsday and The Street. He believes in giving readers the tools they need to get out of debt.

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