Thursday, October 25, 2007

Brand loyalty to a fault

Imagine you buy a product. In fact, you are eternally loyal to the brand. Nothing else will do. You know lots of people who share your passion for the brand. You brag about it. You dream about it. There is nothing more sacred than this brand.

But there’s one snag: this particular product lets you down time and time again. It fails to perform, it fails to deliver on its promises, and it hurts to even look at it sometimes. So you bitch and complain about it to your friends. You even call radio DJs to voice your disgust and you curse the product to the heavens above.

Still, you keep coming back. There is no other choice for you. There is no other choice, period. You have pledged allegiance to the brand and you will pay whatever it costs to get your hands on the product. The odd time when the brand performs well, you grab the megaphone and tell the world about it. Those are rare occasions, but you live for those moments. It’s the best feeling in the world.

Now you’re probably thinking: Who are these fanatic brand loyalists? What the heck is their problem? And what kind of Holy Grail product offering is this anyway?

Attention Toronto Maple Leaf fans: I’m talking about you!

No other brand in this country has so many fans with undying loyalty. It’s almost sickening. And it’s sad because the fans have been let down, time and time and time again.

When your car keeps breaking down, you’ll probably switch models next purchase. When your dry cleaner keeps shrinking your shirts, you’ll probably kiss him goodbye. When your volumizing shampoo stops poofing, you’ll be switching brands soon enough. But Toronto hockey fans are a special kind of brand enthusiast bunch. They won’t boycott a game to show displeasure … anything but. Hey, they’ll, even pay more for tickets! A marketer's dream indeed!

The worst team in the league keeps getting worse. But Leaf fans don’t care. They drank the Kool-Aid years ago and are clinging to the refrain “It can’t get any worse than this.” The game against the Atlanta Thrashers the other night proves this team has hit rock bottom. But it doesn’t matter. Leaf fans are believers, forever loyal, and will defend their choice to the end.

Now if only Unilever, Colgate or Nestle can figure out how to bottle that kind of brand loyalty...!

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