True Brand Loyalty

True Brand Loyalty

Introduction

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 commitment

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
of a high degree of elaboration. Latent satisfaction is based on the fact
that "the consumer is not fully aware of his/her satisfaction, because
of a lack of motivation and/or ability of the consumer to evaluate his/her
brand choice" (pp.315).

The linkage between satisfaction and brand
loyalty

Many literatures have been written
on the relation between brand loyalty and consumer satisfaction. This relation
seems quite obvious. Later on we will deal with an article from Bloemer
and De Ruyter (forthcoming) in which they introduce some moderating effects
on this relation. But before we do this, we will describe factors that
influence consumer satisfaction. In this respect Oliver (1981 & 1993)
provides us with some interesting insights. Oliver describes the process
of consumer (dis)satisfaction with help of the disconfirmation theory.

Shortly explained, this theory assumes that consumer satisfaction