Everything in excess is bad news, especially when it comes to money and the spending thereof. There are many addictions, but one of the most financially destructive is addiction to brands.
People may be addicted to gambling, drugs, or even another person, but today there are certain behaviors in society that are either caused by or taken advantage of by brands. We’re talking about addiction to a company, or brand – not loyalty, as that’s not necessarily bad, but addiction.
Brand loyalty is related to the attitude and behaviors the customer has when making a repeat purchase. You consider a customer loyal when they have positive feelings and thoughts in relation to your brand. We currently live in a world so immersed in digital age marketing that, according to a Nielsen study, 60% of customers with internet access worldwide prefers buying a known brand than trying something new.
Brand addiction happens when you buy any item just because of its brand. You purchase, no matter what, regardless of cost, benefits, durability or any other factor that could influence your normal consumption habits.
A clear example is every time a new iPhone is released, a product which, by the way, is getting more expensive with each new release. People get in line and buy it without thinking if it’s better than the last model, just so they can have the newest gadget with the tiny logo.
All is fair in love and war (and publicity), so brands try to create products that connect with the customers’ minds; this way they create a community that feels a collective need to acquire their products. This is why publicity is so critical for brands, which invest a lot in spots and strategy; on all this depends the people’s perception of their brand, their reputation and their good or bad relationship with their customers.
Then comes addiction
If all goes well, then the brand becomes successful as it starts to get inside the consumers’ lives and, when they least expect it, it becomes a meaningful part of it. As sociologist Joan Costa says in the book ‘’La Rebelión de las Marcas’’: “if a brand is not meaningful to anyone, it’s already dead.”
This is when brand addiction surfaces, something which is key for the brand’s continued success.
Going back to the iPhone example, Apple has always been the innovating brand which, each passing year, earned a reputation and prestige like no other by releasing not only new products, but creating a need for them with every release. Apple brought an innovative operating system, a new way to listen to music, a new design in portable computers, a new way to transport information and yet another new way to enjoy music.
In Mexico, it has been recognized for many years as an elite brand, placed first in smartphone production. In 2014, the devices’ penetration was 49.2% of the population. This means that around 35.6 million people have a smartphone, according to El Financiero.
However, only 5 million have a data plan, which means 85.9% of Mexicans with a smartphone exclusively use it on WiFi networks. This tells us than people in Mexico would rather have the newest iPhone model even if they can’t use it to check their social networks all the time.
This is brand addiction
In a survey by the same newspaper, 18.5% of smartphone purchasers went for an iPhone, even with their high cost. Currently, the iPhone 7 Plus costs $22,999 without a rent plan. If, apart from the phone, a Mexican consumer wants an iPad, he’d have to pony up $18,999 for the 12.9 inch, 64GB model, giving us a total of $41,888, this without taking an Apple computer into account, which can set you back around $50,000.
The idea is not to demonize brand addicts, because prestige usually comes with a warranty. But when your economic prospects can’t support this addiction and you have difficulty recognizing this, the problem can become serious.
As we mentioned at the start, everything in excess is bad, and becoming a brand addict can cost you a lot of money that you could invest in something productive for you and your family.
Owning everything a brand makes gives you a certain status, but buying smart gives you peace of mind, something that immediately becomes happiness.