Is Brand Loyalty Costing You?

January 2014 Feature Web Exclusive

Ah, the great loyalty debates in life: Coke versus Pepsi, Home Depot versus Lowes or Arctic Cat versus Ski-Doo. Face it: if someone doesn't have a decal of Calvin defacing it, it probably isn't a true brand debate.

I received my first taste of brand loyalty when I got into motorcycles years ago. My friend and I bought a couple of old road bikes and on the weekends we'd stop by the local bar in our little college town to admire the beautiful motorcycles that would line up in front. We'd come to drool over the high-end bikes, but of course we'd park our junkers around the corner since we didn't feel worthy to line up with the big boys.

One Saturday afternoon I watched as three bikers came out of the bar and began to check out the motorcycles too. They looked like the Harley Davidson catalog had thrown up on them. If Harley made it, they were wearing it. Suddenly a bright yellow bike caught their attention at the end of the row and they quickly walked over to get a closer look. But as they approached they noticed it wasn't a Harley and quickly scoffed at it. "It's just a Honda and I wouldn't be caught dead on one of those bikes," expressed the biker who was all decked out in Harley chaps and a matching Harley leather vest.

From my vantage point it sure looked like a nice top-of-the-line bike, but I didn't let it bother me. But as we were walking to our own bikes we decided to take one last look and that's when we saw these three cross the street and hop in their Toyota Tercel and drive off. Despite the full motorcycle wardrobe, these jokers didn't even own bikes! Yet their brand loyalty to Harley justified-at least in their own minds-their desire to mock another manufacturer. I'll never understand what I witnessed that day.

In this segment of our industry, we all have our own favorites and there is nothing wrong with that. As editor of Diesel Tech it's my job to be impartial and to feature the great trucks that deserve ink, regardless of the logo on the grill. That's why we use freelance writers or editorial contributors that are known as "The Dodge Guy" or "The Ford Specialists" or whatever. When a certain make is their specialty, we all win when the article is detailed and backed by an author who really understands his niche.

Over the years I've paid particular attention to truck buyers who have previously had other diesels. I find it interesting that some stay with the same manufacturer for multiple trucks, referring to themselves on forums as "Chevy for Life" guys, while others change loyalties and go with the newest technology regardless of the brand.  

If you love your current truck, but are in the market for an upgrade for size, power or for whatever reason, you'd be crazy not to at least consider the same manufacturer again.

However, in this very competitive market where technology is improving all the time, now isn't the time to blindly follow brand loyalty. Even if you end up going with the same truck brand again, you owe it to yourself to keep an open mind and shop around. The big three are competing for ever consumer dollar they can get right now and you might be able to get a better rig than what you thought was possible.

It's easier said than done and I know I'd have a hard time going against my own personal loyalties for my next sled purchase. Or it would be hard for me not to complain after the waitress brings me a drink that in her mind "tastes the same" as the one I asked for. I fully understand those concerns you might have about going over to the other side, but I know you won't regret your decision to at least take the time to compare.  

I'm not campaigning that you break all loyalty ties toward your favorite brands and I'm certainly not saying to change truck companies just for the sake of change. All I'm proposing is that you look at all that is available and compare them to your current truck. And of course it goes without saying, if you don't even own a diesel truck, don't follow the lead of those Harley wannabes who drive hatchbacks and make fun or question others and their loyalties.      

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