The Disloyal Customer

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The reason why Capitalism is often seen as a greedy and perverse system is because it promotes bigger fish eating smaller ones. But, in all truth, this behavior is stimulated by us, the consumers, repeatedly choosing to feed the same fish over and over again.

Yes, we love to deprecate Capitalism as the root of all that is evil. But we simultaneously contribute to the problem by promoting the very practices we so righteously condemn. We endorse monopolistic tendencies by giving money to the same players over and over again without even thinking. We buy the same brands without considering for a moment if a better alternative is around and we boost their ego and their market value without evaluating if they really deserve it. We, literally, ask them to take us for granted us by repeatedly buying their products despite the fact that they continuously lower the quality and raise the price.

There is a reason why big companies have entire departments devoted to Customer Fidelization: to make sure you keep buying their stuff. To make sure you won´t go looking around for something new or different that you might find more appealing than their stuff.  And it´s quite easy for these big companies to continue ripping you off because they know that you want to be a loyal customer. They have you pegged as a brand consumer who will stick to what you already know. And they are right. It’s basic human nature: we search for something we like and when we find it, we settle for it. But, while such an approach may serve us well in certain areas of our life, we would benefit greatly from a little more curiosity in our consumer profiles.

If your town has three groceries and you always go to the same one, the favored shop will grow while the other two, won´t. Maybe you like the first shop better for a number or reasons. But if, from time to time, you give the other two a chance, you might find that grocery B or grocery C has improved its quality, lowered its prices or at least has better bananas and tomatoes than grocery A. Don’t settle for a brand. If you need a pair of jeans, do not automatically go to Levi´s. Look around for smaller brands. Maybe you’ll find something that fits much better, has better quality or better colors. If you like Coca Cola and you´ve always bought it without thinking, maybe the next time you go to the store, you buy a Pepsi, a Dr.Pepper or any other brand of soda or beverage and find that you like it better. Or maybe you don’t like it and you go back to Coke but perhaps and just perhaps, you have found something that suits you better and you have added a little improvement to your life.

Brands and products should never be accepted at face value. Brands don’t deserve your loyalty. Consumers should always audit their choices and constantly decide if what they are buying is really the best option for them. Plus, trying new stuff is an excellent exercise for your brain.

One of the main reasons why new entrepreneurs find it hard to compete is because people go blindly to the big brands they have always bought and don’t really look around for better alternatives.

Want to help Capitalism become more balanced toward the smaller fish? Don’t be a loyal costumer. Be a demanding, hard customer. Challenge brands. Don’t buy the same names every single time. Look around. Try new stuff. Change your mobile phone company. Go to a different restaurant. If you watch sports, look for a different sport than the ones you usually follow. Try different brands of every possible thing. I guarantee you will find better options. Not every single time. But if you constantly look around for better consumer alternatives, you will add small improvements to your consumer life. And, at the same time, this helps the smaller brands grow and balance the market. If consumers shifted brands like they shift socks the power balance between big companies and small companies would shift too, creating a healthier environment for new players. If we really start doing that, we will begin shifting towards a healthier, more balanced capitalism.