The net has changed everything.
In the “old days” consumers brand choices were made from a small pool of acceptable brands that was defined by experience, limited access to detailed information, and advertising.
Once a brand had been purchased, the well understood “cogitative dissonance” kicked in, a psychological process which justifies an action already taken, and served to make the walls of the brand pool tougher. It didn’t much matter if the purchase was a major one like a car, or a bar of soap, the processes were similar.
Now, these purchase drivers have been thrown out the window, as consumers have quick access to vast amounts of technical information, performance data, and user reviews to inform and shape the purchase decision. This has led to the pool of acceptable brands becoming much wider, and shallower, in many categories, it has almost ceased to exist beyond a measure of awareness.
Consumers now buy many brands. The old notion of brand loyalty has been seriously discounted by consumers who are brand promiscuous. Assessment of value that take in a whole range of factors not previously important in any but the first, and perhaps second purchase now shape behavior. Availability, word of mouse, the view of the crowd, supply chain transparency, perceived social responsability, and many more. Consumers are seeking more reassurance from the social media, and less from the mass marketing notions of brand positioning and loyalty.
The message is if you do not deliver value at every point in a consumers journey with a product, do not expect them to stick around, as there is a viable alternative within easy reach.