Brand Loyalty: OEMs and Otherwise
A while back, I saw a press release from a major printing equipment manufacturer stating that the company had been voted “number one” in brand loyalty for several years running. That’s a great position to be in, especially at a time when the shifting winds of opportunity (or challenge) are making the path for printing companies less certain.
As I’ve witnessed the development of the wide-format inkjet segment, I’ve seen textbook examples of both strong and weak brand loyalty for OEMs. For the purposes of this short post, I’d like to focus on three factors that can keep the users of their equipment (their customers) with them (or not).
Buyer’s remorse is a common phenomenon, especially for people buying homes or vehicles. It sets in at that moment when the warm, fuzzy feelings you had about what you purchased give way to the cold realities of its inherent shortcomings, defects, or need for maintenance. For significant investments in capital equipment, buyer’s remorse is not a good thing. And while all new things cease to be new at some point (there’s always “the next thing,” right?), no equipment company wants its customers thinking, “Why did I buy this?,” or “This never really met my expectations.”
A few years back, I was touring a printing facility that had installed a new inkjet device that was receiving a good amount of industry buzz. “Ooh,” I said, “how do you like your new [COMPANY NAME AND MODEL WITHHELD]?” The company owner replied, very matter-of-factly, “I don’t like it at all. In fact, what I’d like is to take a hammer to it.” Ouch. This is where we enter the realm of “word of mouth.” Much has been said and written about the value and strength of word of mouth advertising, which gets its power from honest, sincere endorsements of products or services. Word of mouth also has an alarming flip-side, which is that people are much more likely to share negative experiences than positive ones.
As a car buyer grandfather was an Oldsmobile man. His first car was a REO (which stood for Ransom E. Olds), and his last was a 1992 Oldsmobile Cutlass. Over the years, he would tell you, he had some great cars and he had some “lemons.” But he stuck with the brand because he believed in it, and regardless of the car he had, he was always looking forward to the next one. Apple afficionados often share a similar mindset. A huge test of brand loyalty is whether the experience you have with, for instance, your current wide-format machine is good enough for you to purchase your next wide-format machine from the same company. Simply put, would you do business with them again?
Before we wrap up this article, let’s take a moment to turn this discussion on its head. What we’ve talked about here is how you, as owners of printing companies, perceive the companies from which you purchase equipment. But, how do your customers perceive your company? Once they agree to the terms of your bid, do they begin to regret doing so? What would they say about your company when asked about their experience? Finally, though they did business with you once, would they do business with you again. Are they with you for the long haul?
What level of brand loyalty does your printing company have for its equipment OEMs, and what are the factors the connect you with a company and keep you engaged?