The key to loyalty is reassurance

Dacia, the Renault-owned Romanian car manufacturer, recently launched a hatchback at under £6,000, yet people are still buying VW Golfs at twice the price. Why?

We all love a bargain – getting, or at least thinking we are getting, more than we have paid for. So why don’t we buy the cheapest cars? The same reason we don’t all buy the cheapest wines, despite received wisdom to the contrary.

Car buying is a complex business, with millions spent on creating incredibly powerful consumer brands. The reason for all this investment is simple – to give the consumer reassurance about quality, reliability, safety, image, or a combination of these and other factors.

Ultimately we are all, to a greater or lesser extent, risk-averse. We want to know that the decision we have made is a safe one and these brands have us convinced of that enough to spend thousands. When it comes to wine, the fragmentation of supply means we don’t have the turnover, or margins, to create power brands – but consumers still crave reassurance in the same way, and are willing to pay for it. However many of their hard-earned pounds they are prepared to spend on a bottle they still want to know that they will like it when they get home – they don’t want to make a mistake.

We may not have the budget of Volkswagen, but we do have the – often squandered – opportunity to communicate through front and back labels. it is our job as marketers in the UK to convince our almost entirely non-UK supply base that our consumers have certain needs.

They don’t need modern designs just because they look funky, when something that looks reassuringly like wine works better. Multilingual back labels with tiny writing, created to save cost, are a wasted opportunity to communicate.

Back labels with just a tasting note do nothing to create a memorable image, when creating an interesting story would be so easy. These things may cost more but they add value through reassurance, and adding value creates loyalty and protects price.

The most important thing we can give the consumer is reassurance and, in the absence of that, they will minimise their risk and choose the cheapest – which is not necessarily a bargain.

Jeremy Rockett has worked in marketing for González Byass UK, Marks & Spencer and William Grant and has his own consultancy business, Rockett Science

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