What Is a Brand Preference?

Malcolm Tatum

Brand preference is a phenomenon in which consumers associate specific qualities with a particular brand name, and will choose the products marketed under that brand above the similar products offered by competitors. This type of consumer activity is found with a number of different types of goods and services, with consumers gravitating toward brand names in telecommunications services, electronics, supermarkets, restaurants, and even basic products like food condiments. In this scenario, consumers will only consider other brands if the favored brand is not currently available, or the pricing or claims of a competitor is attractive enough to merit consideration.

Some consumers are extremely loyal to a particular brand.
Some consumers are extremely loyal to a particular brand.

The development of brand preference normally occurs as the result of an ongoing effort of the brand owner to convince consumers that the goods and services sold under that brand are the most desirable in terms of quality and sometimes price. Providing a consistently high quality often helps to establish the brand’s reputation, sometimes to the point that the products marketed under the brand become the standard by which similar products are judged. As long as consumers continue to perceive the presence of that quality, there is a good chance that the brand recognition will remain high, prompting the buying public to reach for those products with little to no thought of the merits of competing brands.

Brand preference is important for even basic products like food condiments.
Brand preference is important for even basic products like food condiments.

Consumers routinely exhibit brand preference when making both small and large purchases. For example, shoppers in a grocery store may automatically reach for bottles of ketchup and mustard based on the brand name and the consumer’s strong attachment to those brands. In like manner, consumers may have more confidence in frozen foods sold under a certain brand name. This brand preference comes in handy when the producer chooses to launch a new product, since consumers who already know and trust that brand are more likely to give that new product a try, simply because of the name on the packaging.

Higher ticket items may also enjoy consistent sales thanks to brand preference. Consumers often make decisions about the purchases of desktop and laptop computers, refrigerators and furniture based on their recognition of and trust in a particular brand name. When considering the purchase of a new vehicle, many consumers will only consider makes and models produced and marketing under a certain brand name. As long as the brand conjures images of quality, consistency and an equitable price in the minds of consumers, there is a good chance that the brand will hold onto those customers for a number of years.

A consumer who demonstrates brand preference may choose only a certain brand of mustard or hot dog.
A consumer who demonstrates brand preference may choose only a certain brand of mustard or hot dog.

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