• Product Loyalty: Stockholm Syndrome?

    Loyalty is important. Often in history loyalty to your country was paramount, but what about loyalty to a company or brand? That is the type of loyalty that seems to be most prevalent in our consumer culture today and can be commonly referred to being a ‘fanboy’. But what does it mean to be a fanboy and why do some consumers have a loyalty to certain brands?

    The term fanboy is a very nerdy sounding word, and for good reason. The term has its roots in comic books and video games. Back in the 1990s you were either a Nintendo Fanboy or Sega Fanboy. Sega Fanboys would use buzzwords like “Blast Processing” to infer that the Sega Genesis was a better console than the Super Nintendo. In present day, people are essentially having the same argument over the Xbox One and the Playstation 4 or over Android and iPhone.

    But why? Didn’t each consumer purchase what they wanted?

    Well, it isn’t that simple with big purchases. Some people need affirmation that they bought the best product when the purchasing stakes are high. That is why you don’t see this kind of intense fanboyism for things like soap. You might see loyalty to lower priced products, but rarely will you see people arguing about things like soap, even if one has a distinct advantage over the other.

    Tech companies have definitely noticed and adapted to the fanboy followings that have surfaced. For example, when I go to an Apple store, a store associate (I refuse to call them geniuses) will usually mention how long I have been with Apple or thank me for my continued loyalty to the company. Apple and a lot of other companies also have some practices that sometimes force continued loyalty. For example, I use an Android smartphone and all my pictures are backed up through Google Photos. It is the same deal with iPhone, except the photos are backed up to iCloud. However, since Google Photos and iCloud are incompatible with each other, this can make switching between different devices inconvenient. Pair that with transferring settings and contacts and you have yourself a headache.

    I really like that Google and Apple are creating ecosystems of apps and products. It can make life really convenient.

    However, is that convenience worth the price of being locked to a particular brand of devices?