Loyal to What?

Only if They Deliver

By Jeff Salter

One day last week – before I’d even peeked at this week’s 4F1H topic – I was posting on FB about brand loyalty. I won’t repeat the whole thing here, but suffice it to say, I was appalled that certain cigarette manufacturers could price their product at $7.59 per PACK (of 20) while the generic ciggies were going for $4.06. My frame of reference was wondering if ANY product would compel me to pay 87% more just for the BRAND.

And here we are, this week at 4F1H, contemplating that very matter. Cool. [Or should I say “Kool”?]

Anyway, I’ve given this additional thought since I first logged-on Monday (this week). And, yeah, I’m “loyal” to certain BRANDS — but I seriously doubt I’m loyal enough to pay nearly DOUBLE for that same brand, on a daily or weekly basis… from now ‘til doomsday. But since I don’t smoke, I guess that’s a moot point.

brand-loyalty

Generics & House Brands

Before the rise of generic medicines, I actually believed the TV ads that Bayer aspirin was “better” than Norwich (or whichever brand was the cheapest at that point… circa 1960). But now that nearly EVERY prescription I’ve taken – at least in the past several decades – has been “re-written” by the insurance company by the time I get to the pharmacy…and I end up with a generic. I’m still kicking, medically-speaking, so I guess the typical generic is pretty much within the same ballpark of efficacy as the “name” brand drug.

In much younger days, when I was overseas in the military and took a drink now and then, I could order a Seagrams Seven and Seven-Up for $2, while a Stillbrook and Seven was only $1.50. No, I don’t remember their exact prices, but I’m guessing to make my point: whiskey was whiskey but if you wanted the name brand rather then the house brand, each drink cost you MORE. And, after you’ve had the first one (or two), your taste buds are definitely NOT discriminating enough to appreciate whatever perceived quality that name brand had to begin with.

Early Start

I remember my first attraction to name brands involved “sneakers” back around the early 1960s. I’d seen TV commercials, so I knew – absolutely, positively – that PF Flyers and KEDS sneakers allowed kids to jump higher and run faster. It had been scientifically proven and advertised for all to see. It broke my heart for Mom to buy me the “no-name” sneakers and I was not satisfied with my footwear until I finally got my KEDS. Did I jump higher and run faster? Of course!

Vehicles

It’s difficult to deal with the topic of brand loyalty without at least touching upon automobiles. Let’s face it, there are lemons in every manufacturing line. True — some models (like the Edsel, as a prominent example) seemed doomed by bad press as well as by styling flaws and lemons on the assembly line. And the Corvair never stood a chance after Ralph Nader deemed it unsafe at any speed. So, we must agree that some brands have engendered a nearly universal DIS-loyalty.

But which automotive makes have I LIKED? Well, I was raised (for a considerable chunk of years) on three different Volkswagens… so it seemed quite natural for me – once married – to acquire three more. Later on, we bought a nice little Mazda Protégé and liked it so well, that our next vehicle was also a Mazda — the B2300 pickup. From there, we moved on to Toyotas, and bought first a Highlander and then a Tacoma. Those are examples of brands which engendered our loyalty after a good experience with the first one.

For examples of vehicle makes/models that generated no loyalty whatsoever, one need look no farther than the Dodge Dynasty and the 1980 Ford T-Bird.

Tools, etc.

In an era when most appliances and devices are considered UN-repairable – meaning that when they stop working, or stop working well, you just discard and replace them – it may sound strange to talk about buying a set of tools that you expect to keep for the rest of your natural life. When I was 17 and working on a 1947 Plymouth Special Deluxe (that I’d bought from a junk yard for $15), my otherwise manically frugal parents bought me an extensive – and expensive – set of Sears Craftsman tools. The tools Sears sold in the late 1960s were “guaranteed for life and replaced free if they ever broke.” As everybody and their brother began importing cheaply made tools, I continued to pay top dollar for Craftsman items to fill out my inventory. Not any more, however. The last couple of things I’ve seen from that brand (which formerly had my devoted loyalty) don’t look or feel much different than the junk tools you can buy for chump change at places like Harbor Freight. But you get what you pay for — most of those tools don’t function well and don’t hold up.

Barlow Knife

As my final entry in this essay, I’ll relate my sad experience with Barlow pocket knives. I’d grown up hearing about men and boys who owned the famed Barlow — knives of the reputation and quality that they were handed down from father to son to grandson through generations. Heirlooms. My dad never had one and his dad left him (literally) nothing. I was in my late teens, I guess, when I spotted a display of Barlow knives in an old hardware store. I thought: “Wow, a brand new Barlow and at a terrific price!” I bought one hurriedly, without even examining it. By the time I’d gotten it home, I discovered it was a cheap piece of imported junk, made by some company which had bought the Barlow NAME and slapped it on a crappy, fifty cent knife. Heartbroken. What’s the reward for loyalty to a brand, when that brand’s own loyalty is so paltry that they’ll sell their reputation and name to a concern that they KNOW will run it into the ground?

Question:

What about you? Loyal to any particular brand… of anything?

[JLS # 437]

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About Jeff Salter

Currently writing romantic comedy, screwball comedy, and romantic suspense. Fourteen completed novels and four completed novellas. Working with three royalty publishers: Clean Reads, Dingbat Publishing, & TouchPoint Press/Romance. "Cowboy Out of Time" -- Apr. 2019 /// "Double Down Trouble" -- June 2018 /// "Not Easy Being Android" -- Feb. 2018 /// "Size Matters" -- Oct. 2016 /// "The Duchess of Earl" -- Jul. 2016 /// "Stuck on Cloud Eight" -- Nov. 2015 /// "Pleased to Meet Me" (novella) -- Oct. 2015 /// "One Simple Favor" (novella) -- May 2015 /// "The Ghostess & MISTER Muir" -- Oct. 2014 /// "Scratching the Seven-Month Itch" -- Sept. 2014 /// "Hid Wounded Reb" -- Aug. 2014 /// "Don't Bet On It" (novella) -- April 2014 /// "Curing the Uncommon Man-Cold -- Dec. 2013 /// "Echo Taps" (novella) -- June 2013 /// "Called To Arms Again" -- (a tribute to the greatest generation) -- May 2013 /// "Rescued By That New Guy in Town" -- Oct. 2012 /// "The Overnighter's Secrets" -- May 2012 /// Co-authored two non-fiction books about librarianship (with a royalty publisher), a chapter in another book, and an article in a specialty encyclopedia. Plus several library-related articles and reviews. Also published some 120 poems, about 150 bylined newspaper articles, and some 100 bylined photos. Worked about 30 years in librarianship. Formerly newspaper editor and photo-journalist. Decorated veteran of U.S. Air Force (including a remote ‘tour’ of duty in the Arctic … at Thule AB in N.W. Greenland). Married; father of two; grandfather of six.
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16 Responses to Loyal to What?

  1. jbrayweber says:

    I mostly don’t pay much attention to brands. Most times, the knock-offs are just as good. (I keep trying to convince my kids of that.) Most times. I mean, you are right, you get what you pay for. But if I am paying for something that is only marginally cheaper, I’m probably getting my money’s worth. That said, there are brands I will pay more for, generally because they have proven that they are worth it. This is especially true for clothing. As for vehicles, Dodge is my fav. Every Dodge we’ve owned has been reliable.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jeff Salter says:

      Well, our family has owned 4 Plymouth vehicles, which are cousins to Dodge.
      All four were fine cars, with no particular complaint. The last of these was the 56 Plymouth Savoy which we drove from southeast LA to eastern NM, for my first Air Force duty station.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Patricia Kiyono says:

    I don’t remember my parents sticking to certain brands, since budget was always a concern. But then my brother became an engineer at GM, and I married into a family known for selling Chevy cars and trucks. We did own Fords for a little while, but that was because a cousin owns a Ford dealership. Anyway, due to family discounts, brand loyalty was due to family loyalty. As for other things, I agree with jbray – most of the time, generic brands are just as good as name brands.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Regarding name brand medicines, this does not always hold true. Sometimes the name brand will be better because of the processing methods use. For instance, Lortab was my go-to for sinus infection because it was the only one that worked for me due to the method they used to compound it. Nothing else worked with me. I’m a strange duck when it comes to medications though. Most do not work with my system the way they do on everyone else. I actually get chest pain from muscle relaxers, which I was given for a stress related problem in the past. Now Lortab is off the market, but praise God, I don’t get the sinus infections anymore since I’ve learned how to avoid them. But I did learn a valuable lesson there.

    When it comes to knives, ask Arnie. He has an entire collection of Swiss Army Knives (something about his military training), but I have only two. We’ll let it go there.

    Vehicles, we will not get into.

    I do have a fondness for special brands of misc. items and foods. But because I worked in advertising for a food broker, I learned a lot about the generic brands. We use generics wherever we can find them. I’ll leave it at that.

    Now when it comes to reading, I rarely go to the “known” authors for a good story. I’ve found so many great tales written by up and coming authors, transitionally published as well as indie. I’ve even read every one of their books in some cases, because they were written even better than those big names. Of course, I still love all the classics, too.

    That’s my take on brand-names vs. generics. Take it or leave it. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Jeff Salter says:

    I’ve heard a few doctors and nurses say that some of the generics — which presumably claim to be virtually identical with regard to active ingredients — can have side effects or be less efficacious than the brand name med they are prescribing. Something that must be watched carefully.

    Like

  5. Elaine Cantrell says:

    I totally agree about books written by up and coming authors. I’ve read some really good ones. We do have brand loyalty to Toyota. Every car we ever got from them has been a winner.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jeff Salter says:

      If/when we replace my pickup truck, I’ll want another Toyota. Not sure if Denise will stick with Toyota for her next SUV, however.

      Like

  6. We were a Craftsman tool family growing up. I don’t ever recall my dad ever needing to use the warranty on a tool but we all knew that if something happened to his tools he would be able to get another one. Still, we treated all of his tools with respect, cleaning them and putting them away neatly.
    I don’t think there is any brand that I’m particularly loyal to. I used to believe that Duracell batteries were the best and I would pay for them. I tend to get my batteries from the dollar store now since they’re cheaper even though I am certain Duracell does last longer.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Sorry that I am late logging in, but I was under the weather yesterday.
    This is very interesting, Jeff. You will read in my Friday post that I am hooked on ONE brand of cleaner only for one reason:It works better than any of the others. I am a good shopper and many store brands are manufactured by ‘name brands’, so paying the difference is insane. Many store brands are superior to most name brands.
    As for Corvairs, they were wonderful little cars; we had two within the family and I loved to drive them…which is quite the opposit e of Volkswagen Beetles for me.I hate them, even though Joe and other family members loved them.I refused to let one enter THIS family.
    However, ‘brand loyalty’ was not where I was trying to lead people this week.I was hoping to have people tell us how they found certain ads compelling, by their good writing or cleverness. I hope that people, especially writers, will appreciate the writing in a ‘good’ ad.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jeff Salter says:

      yeah, interesting how many varied takes we have on certain topics here at 4F1H. Some topics have us all on the same page — in terms of what the topic prompt is suggesting — while other times, we’re all over the place and tangents everywhere.

      Like

  8. Tide. Cheap laundry detergent causes irritation and doesn’t do the job. DayQuil is better than the store brands. When you discover something that really works better, stick with it until it doesn’t.

    Liked by 1 person

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