Mustard is mustard, right? Yellow runny stuff. Although some prefer Robert Rothschild Farm Horseradish Mustard.
At the bar, some order scotch. Others specify 15-year-old Laphroaig.
And gasoline is nothing more than fuel. The brand doesn’t matter — only the price or the location of the pump. Yet some go out of their way for Shell, BP, or Sunoco.
The first are buying a commodity; the second a brand. (By the way, chemists say base gasoline is the same, regardless of brand. The additives account for the variations in performance.)
The difference between brands and commodities is perceived intangible attributes. “Perceived” is key. Some get it, some don’t, and some don’t even care.
We all know consumers who are driven by brands. We accept that some aren’t.
Interestingly, most of us are a mix of the two perspectives, depending upon the brand category. A brand to one is a commodity to another, and vice versa. Moleskine notebooks have a cult following, for example, which procurers of generic office supplies may scoff at.
It’s important to remember for every product and service category there is a segment of consumers that:
- Can’t afford to pay more for a brand
- intentionally choose not to pay more
- Don’t have convenient access to a brand
- Don’t perceive the intangible attributes
- Don’t even care about them
For your brand, do you ignore the nonbelievers or attempt to convert them?