“This is the dark side of brands…Whether it’s a big screen TV or a car, the evidence is overwhelmingly clear that human beings metabolize these things very quickly…These kinds of external objects do not provide enduring satisfaction.” – Dan Pink
Which of us does not know someone who is a brand maniac? Some of us are probably maniacs ourselves. Brands have come to signify class and panache and I have experienced with a lot of amusement even kids proudly displaying the ‘branded’ cap or shoes they have just received. You know what, companies know this – in fact they feed on this mad desire but smart customers don’t let brands fool them. Sure, the lure of half price off or freebies seems rather irresistible but smart customers know better than to fall for these lures. Companies know that although people’s choices and buying patterns may differ, the attraction of quality and the possibility of flaunting a brand are common and it is on these preconceived notions that companies place their ‘bet’.
Doesn’t it strike you as odd, that companies choose celebrities and widely adored film stars to endorse their products and brands? This is to raise the brand’s image by associating it with these popular people. Smart customers know that they should not use a product, for example, a skin product simply because the ‘model in the advertisement’ has flawless skin. The fact is that this ‘woman’ is already blessed with great skin making her ideal for the advertisement. It is quite amusing how some people will assume that because a product is of a particular brand, it will be good and will refuse to buy a similar product from the local store. Smart customers never blindly trust any product or brand without knowing how effective it will be for them. The worst part is these brands could belong to companies whose customer service is probably ‘down in the dumps’ – all that matters is that the brand appears attractive and has ‘show-off’ quality.
– Ideally, in the spirit of customer service and care, companies must make advertisements sans the exaggeration. Flashy advertisements are a common sight not just on the television but also across the internet, various sites and even social media. These eye-catching advertisements have a huge impact on the way customers view a brand and are therefore conscious efforts on the part of the company to push them wherever they will catch the viewer’s eyes. The advertisements are aimed at creating a ‘mystical and magical’ aura around the brand attracting the unwitting and ‘brand crazy’ customers to get in to a buying frenzy. It is the smart customers who can see through these attempts and buy only when they need and from whom they trust.
– Smart customers don’t let brands fool them into paying more than what the product is worth. For example it would not be worth paying excessively for something just because it is placed in a large showroom and is a popular brand when the same quality can be bought at a lesser price. Smart customers will spend on what they want, from whom and at the lowest possible price and will not be fooled by any fancy products and promises.
– Smart customers check closely for updated technology and trends. They prefer to be attuned to what is current rather than something that is considered stylish simply because of its brand. Their style statement is what they want it to be rather than blindly following what a brand might dictate.
– Smart customers are also aware customers. They appreciate the usefulness of products that are environment friendly and can be recycled and the packaging is eco-friendly too. Smart customers prefer to work with companies that are aware of the duties towards the environment and society. A fitting example of this is how people are increasingly shunning polythene bags and opting to carry their own cloth or jute bags when they go shopping.
– There is no concept of impulse buying even for branded items for smart customers. They buy products and services only if there is enough value in them. They ensure that they fully understand what they would be dealing with post buying it and whether they would need to quickly replace or re-buy the item. So unless such customers know something is worth investing in, they don’t buy – making them smart customers.
– Smart customers know exactly where to shop. They will not blindly run behind a brand’s offerings even if they know that the company’s forte lies in some other products. As customers with a keen eye they would not for example buy clothes from a brand that is known solely for its shoes or handbags. For smart customers, making an evaluation of a product is of key importance rather than taking a company’s word for the efficacy or ‘brilliance’ of their products. Adequate market knowledge and product information is what they equip themselves with before making a purchase even if a brand is always talked about – they judge based on what is important for them.
– Given their deep insight and well-researched knowledge, smart customers will not fall prey to brand duplicates either. Since they are not brand crazy, it becomes easier for them to avoid this trap. There are many companies ‘piggy backing’ on such brands by tweaking the design or logo or even name slightly to match it to the ‘popular’ brand. Smart customers have a grip on the pertinent information and know exactly what they want and need and even the most cleverly done ‘duplicates’ don’t stand a chance!
– Smart customers will not hesitate to buy things they need even from the local market. Brands cannot fool or attract them and they understand their corporate social responsibility in helping all generate an income – it is not philanthropy but a distinct understanding of what will work for them and others.
– Smart customers go with quality rather than a brand name and understand that simply because something belongs to a brand it doesn’t necessarily have to be good. Brand names and labels don’t overawe or overpower them and they are capable of making informed and intelligent choices based on the information they have. They also know that brands hike up their prices since the normal perception is that if something is highly priced, “it must be good and better” – a fallacy that they can see through. For smart customers, value is when the product will last longer than its claim – the known adage for customers “getting more for less”.
– Smart customers are the kind of people who are comfortable and remain content with whatever they buy. It is them that make a product shine and not the other way round. They do not need to find gratification by way of a brand but would much rather maintain a standard for themselves that is comfortable for them. Smart customers mould products in such a way that it gives them value-added benefits and will remain with them for a long time.
This exposition is written in the spirit of customer service and the fact that companies and brands must know that customers are a smart set of people and that any attempt made to fool them or sway them will not hold any water. With so much access to a plethora of information, customers are making full use of it and will not hesitate to switch from companies that attempt to fool them or use their popular brands to way lay them. Are you among the smart customers?