Sunday, 21 February 2016
The Price is Right
This, and tales of financial chicanery have dented high street brands and even Internet behemoths like Facebook and Google. People don't like to be associated with crooks.
I'm not sure I'm brand loyal. I use Google because to my mind it's the best search engine and has been for years. If I find myself on Yahoo search I tut and redirect my search through Google. I have a load of Apple products not because I am rooting for Apple: I think their products are pretty damn good. I've tried Android and Microsoft powered phones before I bought an iPhone. And I'm always looking for the next best thing. So the new HP smart phone might persuade me to switch back to Microsoft.
There are a few products/services to which I remain, unashamedly, loyal. First is the National Health Service. I wouldn't go private - ever ( never say ever). Critics would say that I'm loyal because I haven't tried the alternatives: that's true. I believe, however, that the NHS is such a brilliant institution that I'd want to keep with it and see it improve rather than jump ship and join a private scheme.
Then there's the BBC. I'm not on sure ground here, since people will point out that I've been habituated to the Beeb. It's been the soundtrack of my life. From Muffin the Mule and the Woodentops through all the incarnations of Doctor Who, Top of the Pops/Legs & Co, Fawlty Towers, Hancock, The News Quiz, Round the Horne, etc etc. I have, however, been able to market test the competitors. And frankly they stink. Except possibly ITV on a good day. Morse, Lewis, Vera to name three. Oh and Channel 4 and Al Jazerra. In the end, however, my heart belongs to the BBC.
Finally, there's John Lewis and its grocery arm Waitrose. Why should anyone in their right mind pay over the odds for everyday commodities? That's what I do at Waitrose. My grocery bill is 20% more expensive and I go back time and time again. To me it's pretty straightforward. The stores are small, personal and offer stuff I don't find elsewhere. As for John Lewis, that's more complicated. I have shopped there for so many years. Initially because it offered a middle class life style that I aimed for. It was expensive but not so expensive that I felt guilty about being extravagant. From the wedding list in the late 70's to expensive but not over priced mattress in 2016, I have never, ever been disappointed.
They've delivered and I've remained loyal. It's a match made in heaven.
One thing that does make me switch is when I find a product, which I think is personal, local and different, taken over by a international brand. I like perfumes and go out of my way to find products that make me feel different. The discount perfume shops leave me cold: selling stuff that is homogenised. I look for something different. Initially it was Joe Malone until she was bought out , then Miller Harris until the same happened to them. Now I'm into "Profumo Farmaceutia S. M. Novella" - Firenze. They are, I believe, a smallish family company and their perfumes are stunning. Please don't tell me they're owned by Faberge!
It'll all a game. In general companies want to extract as much money from me with the least effort. I want the best I can get for the best price. Some go that extra mile to please me and relieve me of my cash. They're the ones I try to search out.