Brand switching refers to the act of a customer switching from a brand that they were previously loyal to, to a different brand. This is distinct from a customer who doesn’t have a strong preference for any particular brand in a given category, such as someone who regularly purchases different brands of bottled water. When a customer engages in brand switching, it indicates that they have changed their mind about the brand they previously preferred and are now considering alternative options. It’s important for brands to be aware of brand switching, as it can indicate a loss of customer loyalty and potentially signal a need to re-evaluate their product or marketing strategies. The following are common types of brand switching.
A customer finds their favorite brand difficult to find and switches to a brand that is available where they shop.
A customer prefers a brand until they have a bad experience with it. For example, a customer who prefers a hotel chain until experiencing poor customer service.
A product or service changes or adds new features that don’t appeal to the customer. It is common to prefer a brand for its predictability, stability and usability.
A customer becomes bored with a brand or its products and feels like exploring new options.
A customer’s needs change. For example, a fashion brand known for outlandish fashions that appeals to women in their early 20s may expect many customers to switch when they begin a career and require a more conservative look.
A customer who previously identified with a brand based on factors such as brand image, brand culture, company values or product style changes their mind based on new information. For example, a snowboarder who likes a brand for its backcountry image may change her mind after seeing that inexperienced snowboarders on the slopes commonly wear the same brand.
The social status of a brand declines due to factors such as the poor behavior of its leadership, declining customer service or sustainability practices.
A competitor begins to replace a brand’s position in the market with a more compelling offer. For example, a brand of organic food that is able to wrap products in stories about how food is produced may be able to replace brands that simply slap an organic certification mark on products.
Customers who replace a brand they prefer with a cheaper brand because its products are similar enough. This can work the other way as customers may switch brands when they can afford more expensive products.