Breaking up with your brand isn’t hard to do
Question: “The more I use coupons, the more I notice that I get better deals when I am not brand-specific. Any laundry detergent gets my clothes clean no matter the brand, and spaghetti sauce in a jar is all pretty much the same. You’re a coupon shopper. Is there any product you are completely loyal to? What would it take to get you to try a different brand?”
Answer: Like most coupon shoppers, I’m not particularly brand loyal. I am willing to float from brand to brand if the price is right. It’s a great way to try new products and save money.
As for complete allegiance to a particular product, here I need to get a bit personal. For 15 years, I was loyal to one product. This year a single coupon persuaded me to switch to a new brand. The product in question? At-home hair color.
Like many women, I color my hair. I started going gray at the ripe old age of 21. At first, it was a silver streak in front that looked kind of cool. But when more silver strands started peeking through, I decided to do something about it!
Shortly after college, I bought an at-home hair color kit made by a major manufacturer. I had never colored my hair before, so I was a bit apprehensive. But the hair color was easy to use and I was thrilled with my soft and shiny brown hair. And so began a long relationship.
After I became an avid coupon shopper and learned that it’s often possible to find better prices on competing brands, there was still one product I remained loyal to: my hair color. When I discover a beauty product I like, I tend to stick with it. And since finding the right hair color can be tricky, this was one area where I wasn’t comparison-shopping or even particularly price sensitive.
Last year, though, I discovered a competing brand offering a coupon on its website for a free box of hair color. Who could pass that up? I immediately clicked and requested my coupon, which arrived in the mail a short while later.
I didn’t redeem it right away. I waited until the coupon was near its expiration date, bought a box that looked close to my current color and stuck it on the pantry shelf behind the stash of my usual brand. The new brand was my “just in case I run out” backup hair color, because as much as I like free things, I was also afraid to switch.
This year, the brand of hair color I’d been fiercely loyal to for years came out with new packaging and varieties. Unfortunately, the improved product did not last as long or work as well for me. I no longer loved it as I had in the past.
The next time I was ready to color my hair, I picked up the free box of the other brand that had been in my pantry for months. I hesitated but went ahead and used it. My hair came out soft, shiny and golden brown. I breathed a sigh of relief.
Guess which hair color I’m going to buy from now on? My brand loyalty changed thanks to the company that was kind enough to offer a coupon for a free box.
Sometimes I receive emails from readers asking how a company benefits when it issues coupons for a free product. In my case, a coupon turned me into a loyal customer for a new product that I probably would not have tried otherwise. Had my usual brand not overhauled their product for the worse, I wouldn’t have been compelled to seek out something else. But the fact remains: A coupon that motivates a shopper to buy also has the potential to deliver years of customer loyalty.
• Jill Cataldo, a coupon workshop instructor, writer and mother of three, never passes up a good deal. Learn more about couponing at her website, http://www.jillcataldo.com. Email your own couponing victories and questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.