Brand Preferences and Frugality

I’m going to start out by saying something that might get some feathers in a ruffle: everyone in the first world has brand preferences. Simply by seeing a particular label on something, we draw some basic conclusions about the product itself. It might be driven by our own experiences, it might be driven by data, or it might be driven by pure marketing.

I certainly do this. For video games, I have a more positive reaction to Nintendo than I do to Microsoft. For cars, I have a more positive reaction to Toyota than to Volkswagen.

Here’s the interesting part, though. You can pretty quickly tell a frugal person from a non-frugal person by their brand preferences. Not because of the specific brands they prefer, but for their reasons for liking that brand.

I like Toyotas because they deliver a lot of bang for the buck. I’ve owned or been closely related to someone who has owned three different Toyotas in my lifetime, and they’ve all been really reliable and had great gas mileage. Toyotas also generally mark very well in comparison studies for reliability, fuel efficiency, and other categories.

I like Nintendo because their consoles are usually relatively inexpensive compared to the competition and usually feature a number of titles with a ton of replayability. Plus, I know many other people who also own Nintendo consoles, making it easy for us to trade games and not empty out our wallet on them.

On the other hand, I recently asked a friend what their favorite kind of car was. The immediate reply was a Porsche. Why? Because they’re beautiful. If he could own any car in the world, he’d want to own a Porsche, because, in his eyes, they’re the best of the best.

What is that backed up by? The best information he could give me is that they’re beautiful, they go fast, and they’re “awesome.”

Another friend of mine buys several video games a month. Yes, a month. I asked him what he considered the best game console and he immediately pointed out the XBox 360. Why? “The games are awesome.”

What’s the difference? My brand preferences usually involve the value for the dollar I’m getting. I usually have some sort of concrete data to back it up – price points, value per use, and so forth.

Others tend to have brand preferences that don’t involve cost at all. Quite often, the criteria doesn’t even involve anything tangible – the response is emotional.

Here’s a real gut check for yourself. Whenever you see a brand represented anywhere – and it’s pretty hard to avoid them – ask yourself what your opinion of that brand is. Then ask yourself why. If it’s only based on emotion – “that brand is awesome” or “that brand is awful” – without anything concrete to back it up, you might want to step back and do some evaluation.

After all, frugality is about finding value. If you’re making buying decisions based on pure emotion, you’re not seeking value.

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50 thoughts on “Brand Preferences and Frugality

  1. Dan says:

    Nice Post, by the way…I LOVE that you are posting your second blog an hour earlier!!!

  2. Des says:

    I don’t think you can say someone is less frugal than you just because they have more expensive tastes. I prefer NES to Wii because the games are WAY cheaper and provide just as much entertainment (for me). Does that make me more frugal? Or, does it mean you have better taste?

    I don’t know about your friend, but just because he would own a Porsche if he could have any car in the world doesn’t make him un-frugal. Maybe that is his dream car, but he chooses to actually a more economical, reliable car. My dream house might be 2000 square feet on 50 acres, but I own 1000 on a quarter of an acre. I could afford either one, but I choose the latter because it costs less to buy and maintain.

  3. Andrea says:

    When choosing a game console, the level of game awesomeness seems a very reasonable consideration. The whole purpose of a video game is to be awesome. If the game is not awesome, the value per dollar is zero because the value is measured in awesomeocity.

  4. Debbie M says:

    Another difference is probably that you have better skills. It sounds like both you and your friend like consoles with better games–you were able to mention replayability–your friend may have meant to say that more games are available, the games have more state-of-the-art graphics, the games have better plots or, in general, they have high replayability.

    Another difference may be in how you ask the question. If you ask me my favorite car, I’d have to go with Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang, because it does everything. But if you ask me what kinds of cars I actually buy, I’d say reliable brands (like Toyota, Honda, Nissan) with good gas mileage that are ten years old. Is a Toyota better than Chitty Chitty Bang Bang? Only because it actually exists. Is a ten-year-old car better than a new car? Only considering the money you spend.

    Still, the why is always good to look at. If you don’t trust a brand because your mother didn’t trust it, you could ask your mother why. If you’re afraid that off-brand foods are crappier, check the ingredients list.

    And sometimes it’s good to have something JUST BECAUSE it’s what your friends have. My boyfriend got an iPod Touch partly because it has the most applications and partly because all of his friends have iPhones and can recommend applications to him. If you have the same game platform as your friends, you can share games.

  5. Daniel says:

    I have a thing for New Balance shoes, they feel great and last forever. Wearing them every day in college, they lasted over a year. Now that I am working, I can imagine being able to wear my favorite shoes for two without having to replace them.

    My favorite thing about frugality is it’s all about paying for quality.

  6. Craig says:

    Everyone has brand preferences and a lot of that is just based off of what I grew up with, for example with shampoo. On little items like that I probably will just continue the brand I prefer even if it may cost slightly more.

  7. Debbie M says:

    I meant that you have better VERBAL skills.

  8. marie says:

    For a lot of things, I could not care less about the brand. I think I operate a bit of a reverse brand preference though. I am willing to try pretty much any brand out there, usually the cheapest. However, if I try a brand, be it store brand or a national brand, and it does not fulfil my expectations, then I’ll never buy it again, and be really hesitant to try anything else they put on the market. Kinda like a ‘brand ban list’.

    Also, for a few specific items, if I find something that really works, I’ll stick to it. I don’t have a lot of these, but the one example that comes to mind is the Garnier pure moisturizer. For a long time I had been trying many different creams with no success, until I found the perfect one that worked with my acne-prone dry skin. I have only been buying that cream since. However, that is also because it was competitively priced. Had it been a lot more expensive than other brands; I would have continued to look around.

  9. While I am ALL ABOUT buy generic, there are certain items that the store brand just doesn’t work for. Namely garbanzo beans and cream cheese. Amazingly, there is actually a difference in size and dryness when it comes to chick peas and the cream cheese is pretty unpalatable compared to the ‘real’ stuff.

    Why this is interesting is that if you looked at our budget, we are incredibly frugal except when it comes to food and eating out. My husband and I are both focused on flavor and deliciousness.

    So basically, your ‘axiom’ stands in our household.

  10. Shevy says:

    For years I wore only Aerosoles shoes. I walk a lot (over 2 hours on my Sabbath when I don’t drive and at one point I used to walk home from work, which was about 1 hour) and they make attractive shoes that I can walk long distances in without hurting my feet. The last they use also suits my foot, although in recent years some of their styles aren’t comfortable across the top of my foot. Many other shoes I try on aren’t even comfortable in the store and I could never walk even a few blocks in them!

  11. chacha1 says:

    This was a fun little mental exercise. Had to really think to come up with brands I am faithful to!

    Honda. (I’m on my third … had the first for 14 years, traded it in for no. 2, still driving that at 10+ years, added no. 3, a 13-yr-old resale when I couldn’t walk to work anymore.)
    Neutrogena, for moisturizers and sunscreens.
    Garnier hair color (great color intensity and rinses clean fast!)
    Tampax and Kotex for girl stuff.
    Classico pasta sauces.
    Volcano Island honey.

    Other than that I think I am brand-indiscriminate.

  12. Vicky says:

    I have a PS3, a Ps2, a Wii, a Nintendo DS.

    Simply because of the awesome. I buy a console based on what type of games are available. I *love* video games. I buy used, and I buy older ones, and I never let them go.

    I have some really old games – but I buy them because they are ‘awesome’. Katamari Damacy may be one of the silliest games out there, but I play it ALL THE TIME. I don’t care what my friends play, but I LOVE my video game systems. I get a tremendous amount of value out of them.

    However, I tend to read a lot of reviews, borrow games a lot, and only buy games I *really* love and will play over and over. I can be frugal and still have a lot of games :)

  13. Anne says:

    I actually think this idea of “brand preference” lends itself to a much larger discussion that simply that of frugality. For example, 15 years ago my dream car was a Volvo station wagon. This car represented safety, security, and reliability and not just for the car’s performance but also that if I got to the point where I could afford to drive a Volvo station wagon it would be because I had achieved a degree of financial safety, security, and reliability. At this time I was a single parent with a 5 year old.

    Over the past 5 years or so my dream car has changed to a Toyota Prius. This reflects a shift in my priorities. Most newer cars now have airbags so there is not such a wide gulf in safety ratings on different cars. My spendthrift ways are a part of my past and I now have much more peace and security around financial issues. Reliability is still very important to me and Toyotas are known for being reliable. Fuel efficiency has become MUCH more important for two reasons; increasing environmental concerns and the ever-rising price of gas.

    Having said all of that I plan to continue driving my ’92 Toyota Corolla for several more years. I could get better mileage with a new(er) Prius but I’d have to spend a whole lot more money.

    There are thousands of possible reasons and motivations behind our brand preferences. I think it would make for very interesting and revealing research. Perhaps a Master’s Thesis?

  14. I don’t think brand preference has anything to do with frugality. I am willing to spend $120 on a pair of blue jeans because I like how they look, feel, and make me feel in addition to the fact that I will wear them more frequently than cheaper options for a much longer time. I’m willing to pay more for all of those reasons. Just as you are willing to pay a premium for organic foods and high quality cooking equipment. Frugality, as you’ve repeatedly mentioned before, is not about cost as much as it is about the quality of your purchase.

    It might be that you’re friend would want a Porshe because they are awesome because…they are. They look awesome, they are fast and it would be a blast to cruise around in a sporty little car. Not everyone makes their decisions based on such exciting things as fuel economy. If YOU could choose any car without concern of cost, what would YOU drive, and why? It might be that your friend is just in another place in his life where he doesn’t value the same things as you.

    For some people, XBox games are more awesome than Nintendo. Why? Because Nintendo tends to have a more family friendly market while XBox and Playstation tend to market towards a more adult audience. Again, different preferences, and because your friend says that the games are awesome, maybe he’s right. That doesn’t equal any sort of brand loyalty in my opinion, just different perspectives and priorities.

    That you feel the need to rationalize your purchases such as a video game, which is intended to bring enjoyment to a person’s life, with a “per use value” is, honestly, a bit sad. Why do you feel this need to justify yourself in this way? Are you insecure about your choices? Saying that your friends’ reaction of thinking that something is “awesome” is a purely emotional response and therefore invalid is off the mark. A product that is able to elicit that kind of response is obviously bringing something worthwhile to these people and providing its intended value in their lives.

    I would suggest that you stop trying to justify your choices and rationalize them with “per use” value and just learn to enjoy your life without have to worry about such unimportant BS.

  15. Melissa says:

    Then I guess I do have brand preference. I always thought brand preference was the result of advertising or emotion like you stated, but it makes sense that if you’ve tested a product and like it because it’s inexpensive, or because of quality, or because it meets your needs best, then I guess that’s brand preference too.

    We’re the same as Hayden #9. We mostly buy generic, but there are a couple products where the quality of home brand just isn’t very good. So we buy brand names.

    However, when I’m looking to buy a particular product, brand name plays little or no role in the selection criteria. For example, if I were after another car and I knew Toyota was better cost wise / value wise, that’s where I would start looking, but I wouldn’t disregard a Nissan for instance, if a certain model was better. The criteria for purchase would not be the label on the box (bonnet).

  16. Ranga says:

    Well said, Trent; and therefore we all need to understand that everyone is correct in their own perspective.

    It is just like religion for which my policy is, ‘You worship your God, I worship mine. Period.’

  17. KC says:

    If you asked me if I could have any car in the world it would be a Mercedes Benz – a nice E or S class sedan or one of the AMG models that will fly. I’m frugal, even though I want a Mercedes. I could afford to buy a new Mercedes with cash (even the high end ones), but I couldn’t “really” afford it. I’d pretty much drain my money market account and have to sell some investments. In fact I may never buy one no matter how prosperous I become, because I’m frugal and realize cars are money and time pits if you buy high maintenance ones, but that still doesn’t mean I don’t want one if I could have any car.

  18. Gabriel says:

    I think this post really gets at what this blog is all about. A frugal person doesn’t have to be anti brand name at all! Case in point is Trent’s investment in some high quality cookware. It’s being able to provide a concrete reason why the brand is preferable that shows the person is frugal. A frugal person purchases what is meaningful to them, where as a non frugal person buys what other people tell them is meaningful. Hence the emotional vagaries such as “it’s awesome.”

  19. Ryan says:

    I’m not sure how much I agree with the premise of this post.

    I think age, skill level, and income play a much larger role.

    I’m 17 and have an Xbox 360. For me, getting a Wii would almost be pointless. I want to be able to play Halo and Call of Duty. And I want to do it HD. I’d play Wii, but my priority is the 360.

    I think the fact that you own a Wii has much more to do with the fact that you have 2 children and want family friendly games. And you don’t want/need HD features or quality online gameplay.

    Likewise on the car issue, since I’m so young and obviously low income, Toyota and Honda won’t likely be my next car choice. And I’m more concerned about “features”. Ford’s SYNC? Awesome. GM’s OnStar? Awesome. The Toyota Prius’ egg like shape? Kind of lame.

    Trent, if you could have any car in the world you’d choose a Toyota Prius over a Porsche?

  20. dave says:

    i realize you’re trying to point out branding, but if you think a car is beautiful, that’s at least (part of) a reason to buy it. there’s nothing wrong with thinking some cars are beautiful, and there’s nothing wrong with spending money on beautiful things if you can afford them. do you think art is a waste of money? it doesn’t do anything but sit there. putting a value on appearance as a percent of total value is very subjective.

  21. Todd says:

    This reminds me of what a teacher of mine once said about evaluating anything: “Informed people make specific, informed judgments; uninformed people tend to make emotional judgments.” I don’t know if that would hold up in all cases, but I do know that I tend to respect people who give clear reasons for their preferences vs. people who just give an emotional response. Marketing (and increasingly, politics) preys on our emotional responses.

  22. Vanessa says:

    I think the big difference here is what you are evaluating. If I *need* a car (i.e. to get to work/school, take my kids to the doctor, etc.), then I need to evaluate it based on its value to me. Gas mileage, safety, reliability, etc. But I don’t *need* a video game (and not everyone needs a car, or they may be buying a second car just for fun). These are *toys*. There entire purpose is to give us enjoyment and to be awesome! So if it’s not awesome, what is the point? It doesn’t seem like a frugal buy at all if it will just sit on a shelf.

    You evaluations on the video game, are however, evaluating awesomeness in a roundabout and logical way. You are putting into words what everyone thinks abstractly about when they make these kinds of choices. You said Nintendo “feature a number of titles with a ton of replayability”-i.e they are awesome games. So there is no difference in your choice, your definition of awesome is just a bit more precise.

  23. Andy says:

    At least for cookware and ingredients I use Cook’s Illustrated. They test and review EVERYTHING and they haven’t let me down. For these items I want the best quality, which isn’t always the most expensive.
    For clothes I have no preferences as every company uses the same sweatshops and lousy materials.

    For shoes I use Danskos, pricey ($200) but very comfy and wear well.

    But even if I could get any car for free I wouldn’t chose a porsche, even if pretty. Insurance, maintenance, safety… too rich for my blood

  24. Torrey says:

    I don’t really care what the brand is as long as it has a good to great review from experts and customers.

  25. Jules says:

    You asked your friend what his favorite car was–not what kind of car he’d buy. They are very different things. My favorite shoes are designer stilettoes–but I actually buy sneakers and flats, since I walk around all day and ride a bike. You also didn’t ask your other friend which is the best video game console for *him*–and who knows, he might actually have a PS3. I know for a fact that if you asked me what’s a top-of-the-line cell phone, I’d say the iPhone–but what I actually have is one of those free-with-subscription, el-cheapo, candy bar phones. Because that’s what’s best for me.

    Given that most of us form brand preferences, and that we can’t tell the difference between brands and (most) generics, I’d have to say that your point about bang-for-buck in terms of brand preferences doesn’t quite ring true for me. A lot of what drives brand preference is marketing, but there’s also an inherent conservatism behind our choices. For instance, I buy Superfeet arch supports for my running shoes, even though they are about 3X as much as Dr. Scholl’s. Why? Because I tried them once, found them to be wonderful (I’m as flat-footed as a duck), and I don’t care to suffer through the kind of knee pain that I once did. The brand works, ergo, I’ll stick with it–because it’s not worth it for me to try a new one and risk the injury.

  26. Jules says:

    You asked your friend what his favorite car was–not what kind of car he’d buy. They are very different things. My favorite shoes are designer stilettoes–but I actually buy sneakers and flats, since I walk around all day and ride a bike. You also didn’t ask your other friend which is the best video game console for *him*–and who knows, he might actually have a PS3. I know for a fact that if you asked me what’s a top-of-the-line cell phone, I’d say the iPhone–but what I actually have is one of those free-with-subscription, el-cheapo, candy bar phones. Because that’s what’s best for me.

    Given that most of us form brand preferences, and that we can’t tell the difference between brands and (most) generics, I’d have to say that your point about bang-for-buck in terms of brand preferences doesn’t quite ring true for me. A lot of what drives brand preference is marketing, but there’s also an inherent conservatism behind our choices. For instance, I buy Superfeet arch supports for my running shoes, even though they are about 3X as much as Dr. Scholl’s. Why? Because I tried them once, found them to be wonderful (I’m as flat-footed as a duck), and I don’t care to suffer through the kind of knee pain that I once did. The brand works, ergo, I’ll stick with it–because it’s not worth it for me to try a new one and risk the injury.

  27. micki says:

    recently had my eyes open to how the advertising business is running these days. they are doing more emotion-based advertising than fact-based advertising…it’s all about how cool the product will make you look, or how awesome it is (looks, runs, whatever). advertising moguls understand that emotion sells better than facts. this does have an effect on how we make purchases.

    and to all you who responded to trent by saying i buy this instead of the absolute cheapest brand because… Trent isn’t saying to buy the cheapest brand, he is saying to evaluate why you buy what you do and see if it is for the correct reasons or if you are doing it because of how the stuff is marketed and if the stuff REALLY delivers for the amount that you spend. that’s all. if you feel like it delivers, do you REALLY have to defend it to anyone else?

  28. Pattie, RN says:

    My sons are grown now, but we used to disect commercials, which has made them both informed consumers. ( “Will that car really get you a better job? Will that after shave get you women hanging all over you?)

    My only addition is that I also evaluate brands and stores by how they handle problematic situations. For example, I will not even read a Sears ad, let alone shop there, after years of problems and snotty service. They do not exist in my world.But, I only drink Coke Zero, not due to ads but due to the flavor. House brands just don’t come close, and my one case of flat Coke Zero was replaced, no questions asked. And I remain a huge fan of Huggies diapers, even though my GRANDSON is now too old for diapers, so it has been a long time since my kids have worn them!

  29. J says:

    “What’s your fantasy car?” is a far different question than “Why do you drive the car you do?” Similar fantasy situations exist for vacations, houses and spouses. But the answers to the questions really don’t have anything at all to do with one another.

    Then again, I’ve wanted a Porsche since I was about 13 because they are beautiful, fast, sporting and unique. I guess you could say “awesome”. That fantasy hasn’t changed in 23 years. But it’s just that — a fantasy. Maybe one day I’ll own a Porsche, who knows. But for now my priority is on building wealth, for which frugality is only one tool in the toolbox, and there are other more important goals to be met first.

    As for the game console thing, the best one to get is the one your friends have. That’s been true since the days of the Atari 2600!

  30. SockSaver says:

    hmm, I work in retail. Over the years, I’ve noticed the way advertising has tried to manipulate the purchasing choices of the public. Right now my favorite commercial to laugh at is the ” My name is Ram. My tank is full”. Now, if I lived on a big farm and needed a big truck, Ram would be investigated as a potential. But the commercial does put me off.

  31. J says:

    @micki – “how the advertising business is running these days. they are doing more emotion-based advertising than fact-based advertising…it’s all about how cool the product will make you look, or how awesome it is”

    AFAIK, that’s been how advertising has been running … just about forever. :)

  32. Derek says:

    Good comments here. The important thing is that you’re evaluating WHY you’re buying certain things.

    I buy mostly generic but there are a few brand-name specific things I buy, not because of the name or flashy label but because they’re legitimately better.

    Paper towels, toilet paper, face wash, certain clothes, certain shoes, soda, beer and liquor, and some electronic equipment are all things I’m willing to spend a couple extra dollars on because they work better for me.

  33. Elizabeth says:

    Micki, you hit the point really well about what Trent means when “Awesomeness” is used to justify preference. Call it cool, trendy, flashy, makes-me-look-cool-to-my-friends, the point is somebody who buys one brand (or won’t buy it) because of how it looks to others rather than why it works for him or her should reconsider.

    I also think a lot of people say “it’s awesome” when they could say “all these awesome aspects are perfect for my needs/wants”.

  34. Ray says:

    So your favorite car in the world is a Prius?

    The phasing of the question is apples and oranges. Does the friend have a car? What is it?

  35. Brandi says:

    When I moved to a large city and first encountered IKEA, I bought lots of things there, believing that the quality and price dovetailed well with my aesthetic. Now I still like the aesthetic but the quality on some of the larger items can be crap and there goes the value. I still buy small things like lamps and rugs there but prefer to get older quality furniture from used sources. This was definitely a case of being smitten with a brand for the wrong reasons.
    I also used to drive a 4-year-old Audi A4. It was gorgeous, fun to drive, but riddled with problems. Now I drive a slightly less fun but still attractive and way more reliable Honda Civic. Is it my dream car? No, but the Audi was such a headache that it quickly dimmed the pleasure of having it. Would Trent’s friend actually be able to maintain a Porsche? Does this fantasy include money for the necessary maintenance and insurance?

  36. J says:

    @Brandi – fantasies never include necessary maintenance, insurance, gas or price. That’s why they are fantasies!

    If you want a reliable AWD car that delivers a considerable amount of what the Audi does without the maintenance issues, check out Subaru. They have sporty models, too!

  37. stick says:

    “After all, frugality is about finding value. If you’re making buying decisions based on pure emotion, you’re not seeking value.”

    I’m sure I’m not the only one who will point this out, but emotion is value.

    Making impulse purchases based on emotion doesn’t add any value, but someone owning a Porsche because he enjoy driving it sounds like a tremendous value. Owning and xBox 360 might not provide you, specifically, with emotional value, but for a lot of people it does. Emotion is certainly part of the value equation, and removing it removes (pun intended) a lot of value.

  38. Battra92 says:

    Saying that a Prius is your favorite car in the world is like saying that broccoli is delicious. We all know it’s not true and you’re fooling no one but you say it because it’s the “correct” or “socially responsible” answer.

    As for brand preference, there are certain brands that I will gravitate towards. I know when I buy a piece of cast iron cookware it will only be a Lodge. Why? Because I know they have been around forever and aren’t Made in China.

    I was pretty brand loyal to New Balance due to their keeping American factories but then I decided that I preferred the look and comfort of Converse All-Stars and they don’t have anything like that. Since I won’t pay Converse’s prices, I get Airwalks at Payless for half the price. I can’t tell the difference and neither can most anyone else.

    Nintendo is an awesome brand name, though. I buy their systems and games new because I want Mario, Zelda, Metroid and Pokemon. The other systems I buy discounted after the newer version comes out.

  39. Cory says:

    I think the brand you choose is not the measure of frugality but HOW you choose the brand. Choosing a brand because of purely emotional reasons is different from choosing one based on your values and long-term return (however you want to measure those.)

    A friend of mine will ALWAYS choose any Chevy over any Ford. The reason? Chevy is great and Ford sucks! That’s his entire reason. He’ll never admit that there are variations in quality in one brand.

    Unless you are going to research and agonize over every purchase you need to be able to make some assumptions based on brand. Which brand has the best commercial is probably not the right way to form your brand preferences though.

  40. There are TONS of reasons why someone would want to own a Porsche…. Sorry you just ran into someone who probably couldn’t tell you the difference between a 911 GT2 or 911 Turbo.

    In fact, I could own the 911 of my dreams for less than what was paid for a new Prius. I just want a garage to put my girl in when she comes into my life… But wanting a Porsche doesn’t mean anything about someone not being frugal because I’d rather own a car who’s styling has had minimal changes in over 30 years rather than a newer Toyota. In fact, I probably watch my pennies closer so that I can own that Porsche, instead of just dreaming about it.

    Not to say there’s not a Toyota that I want. The Toyota of my dreams is currently 23 years old… If only I could find one to buy. My reasons are shared by a select group, and probably nobody here.

  41. Sierra says:

    I’ve always been strangely loyal to Advil brand gel-caps. This weekend, I ran out and went to the store for more.

    The gel-caps I love are almost $12/100 count. The store-brand tablets were $2/100 count.

    That was the end of my brand loyalty.

  42. Bill in Houston says:

    I own my fantasy car, and one day it will be running again showroom new (my 1982 Nissan 280ZX, which is my project car). This car used to be my daily driver up until 2006, but age caught up to the old girl. While I can lust after the new 370Z or GT-R when I take my Maxima in for an oil change at the local dealer, I’ll never buy one.

    To me, Nissan gives the most bang for the buck.

    As for brands, there are few I’m truly loyal to. I like Daisy sour cream. For an occasional treat I’ll have Dunkin’ Donuts coffee. I like Spam (Spam Lite, sliced thin, is great with an Egg Beaters omelet, except it is the Costco equivalent). Looking mentally through my pantry, most of what is in there is generic.

  43. I should be on Toyota’s payroll for as much good press as I’ve given them over the years. I’ll never drive another car.

    Its the bang for the buck, baby

  44. Bonnie says:

    This is a really interesting article. I think that brand preferences actually say more about what you value than it does about whether you’re frugal or not. If you’re mainly “loyal” to a brand because of the “value for the dollar”, then as soon as that company raises prices and another offers a similar product for the same “value for the dollar”, you’d probably switch. So, you’re not really loyal to that company at all.

    Usually, people only have brand preferences for items/categories that they really value in their life. E.g. many women are loyal to a brand of shampoo because of how it makes our hair look or smell, but maybe have no brand loyalty to handsoap because they’re all pretty much the same and clean hands are more just a necessity than something we “value” (maybe not the best analogy, but all I can think of right now).

    BTW, Trent, I don’t know that the Microsoft vs. Nintendo analogy was the best example. When it comes to video games, it seems that most people just buy the console that carries games they’d actually play. For you, that means Nintendo, but for most serious gamers, that means Microsoft. We have an Xbox and a Wii. Although we have many more games on the Wii (about 8), we don’t really play them much. On the other hand, my DH plays one and only one game on Xbox Live all the time until the “red light of death” shows up on the console and it needs to be repaired or replaced (usually once every 2 years). So, it’s highly likely that serious gamers get more game time out of their one Xbox game in a month than more casual gamers would get out of 10 Nintendo games in a year.

  45. Ellie says:

    Everyone you know can be divided into three groups. People who live in the past, the present, or the future. They most often look at things through there group outlook.
    Past people can not get beyond something that already happened. Present people can only see that they want it now. And future people often sacrifice too long before getting what they want.
    One group is really no better than the other, it is why we need each other after all.

  46. AnnJo says:

    For some people, brand loyalty seems to be related to identity. Many teenagers are susceptible to brand advertising – buying a celebrity-endorsed product seems to enhance their own sense of identity by extension. In fact, the products they use seem to actually become part of their identity.

    I vaguely remember that feeling myself and I do remember the time I had to talk myself down from buying a Lexus mostly for the status, so maybe it’s just something you grow out of with maturity.

  47. Kate says:

    My mother used to always by the named brand and I think it was out of habit more than anything else. I on the other hand rarely by brand names. I find the quality of non brands just as good and so much easier on the wallet.

  48. Kate says:

    My mother used to always by the named brand and I think it was out of habit more than anything else. I on the other hand rarely by brand names. I find the quality of non brands just as good and so much easier on the wallet.

    Please delete my previous submission. thank you

  49. mellen says:

    I usually agree with you, not always but usually and this post is no exception but I have to play devil’s advocate on this one. Your friend who likes Porsche probably doesn’t OWN one, you asked what his favorite car is and he told you. I had a similar discussion with someone in my office just a couple of days ago. I love cars. If you asked me what my favorite car is I would say a Mercedes SLK 430 because it’s got about 400 hp and crazy amount of torque and it’s gorgeous. It’s an engineering masterpiece (IMHO). Do I own one? No. Do I own more car than I think I need? yes, but that supports the discussion my colleague and I were having, that men usually make emotional decisions about cars because marketers gear advertising towards men not women and my husband wanted that car so we got it. Marriage is about conpromise after all, so I get to pick the next car. Another example is that my sister once said I was a snob because I only buy certain brands of clothes. On the surface, if someone only buys certain brands, that would seem like a true statement but the reason I only buy from certain stores is because I am a woman and almost 6 feet tall and there are very few stores that sell clothing that will fit me. You can talk all you want about buying from thrift stores if you are a man but a woman over 5 feet 10 inches has very few options for dress pants and shirts. Most of the low cost stores don’t carry pants with enough material at the hem to lower them. I am as frugal as I can be within my size constraints, I buy pants at discount stores and on sale but at the end of the day there are only a handful of stores that offer tall sizes and they always get my business first.

  50. partgypsy says:

    A euphemism for buying based on emotion is really about buying due to status, versus practical advantages (does it do the job).
    My neice wants Uggs boots for Christmas. When my sister asked her if she could get her Bear Paws instead, she scoffed “oh some people think they are the same but that’s what the posers wear.” Pretty much all her friends have real Uggs boots, that’s the problem.

    Humans are really social creatures and we take cues from other people what is appropriate and good and “in”. Maybe in Iowa it may be easier to tune out these cues, but can “fitting in”, be considered a practical advantage? It definitely seems to have a big influence on some kids lives.
    (not that I’m buying her the boots : )

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