I've been meaning to document this observation for some time now, because I think it's interesting.
A while ago (when my family was on the way to see the Lion King and we were all in the car together) there was a bit of a family discussion about branding (that I instigated in response to something my little brother or sister said).
My Mum tried to insist that advertising had no effect on her. I told her she was being silly. She stuck with her guns (that's my Mum for you) though, and continued to insist. To make her point she (shot herself in the foot by) pointing out that she always got the same WASHING POWDER as her mother used to get. I won't get into it, but just note that I mentioned branding, she said “No. Doesn't work. Washing Powder.”
Some time later (a few weeks) my aunty came over to my place one evening. The deal was I'd fix her computer and she'd shout me dinner. Good deal. So we talked about all sorts of things, and branding came up. My aunty said she tried to avoid strong 'brand preference' behaviour too. Then she went on to point out that there was one product that she knew that a 'dodgy brand' was no good for, because it “doesn't work properly”: WASHING POWDER. So basically my aunty said “No. Doesn't work. Washing Powder.”
Kind of amazing. When I think “branding” the last thing that pops into my mind is washing powder, but it's the first thing that each of these middle-aged women remarked on at the same time as relating their firm brand preference and denying the effects of advertising.
They don't call 'em soapies for nothing.
How does their brand preference have anything to do with advertising? The fact that their Mother used it was probably what got them buying it in the first place.
Your Auntie said she had tried others and even if these other products actually did do as good a job - if she only believed it was inferior, the brand loyalty here isn't necessarily a result of advertising. I don't understand the claim that advertising is definitively responsible for them thinking that it's the best product in this case.
I use some things and I do some things simply because my parents did it that way. I think most people would. It's not desirable (or even possible probably) to analyse every thing you do for motivation and efficiency. Some things can just be good enough.
Sure, brand preference and advertising CAN be related, but do they have to be in every case? Did I miss the point here?
The thing that I was particularly surprised about was that each of them specifically cited washing powder during a discussion of branding.
I wasn't trying to make a point about advertising (at least directly as in 'television commercials' or 'billboards').
(I'll have to gather my thoughts on this some other time, I wrote a little more, but haven't got the time to finish it properly just now. I've kept my notes. Might blog about the topic of branding again soon..)
My point wasn't that any specific form of advertising causes brand preference.
My point was that people are brand conscious, and that in my experience 100% of the middle-aged women that I've spoken to regarding branding (albeit only two, both from the same immediate family) have basically explained that they don't value the notion of 'brand preference' and prefer the notion of either 'good value' or 'well suited to needs' products. However, they both highlighted an exception to this view with regard to the same product (i.e. washing powder), where they admitted they are in fact brand conscious (for whatever stated reason, one stated reason being "what mum did," the other being "perceived quality"). So for whatever 'actual' reason these women both went out of their way to communicate their strong brand preference when it comes to washing powder. Which I find extremely interesting, because television advertising *began* with soap ads targeted at women, and midday television content has revolved around selling soap almost since the beginning of the technology, thus the entire genre 'soapies' (something that I'd never considered in much depth).
As an aside, frankly, most people who I speak to about branding seem like they are 'in denial'.