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Market studies show Canadians are not as brand conscious as they once were. That surprised me. I thought Canadians have always been as attached to their favourite brands as squirrels to nuts.

Take beer. (OK, I’ll have one too.) In1989  when Molson decided to close down their plant in  Saskatoon--last big brewery in Saskatchewan--16 of the employees risked their futures to take over the business & keep it running as Great Western Brewers. I so admired them I pledged that if their beer was good I would I would never--when it was available--buy anything else. I’ve stuck to that ever since.

Great Western is now a very successful company, but in the first few years many beer drinkers clung to the products of  Labatts, Molson, Canadian, Budweiser--big brewers, whose ads at the time promised to surround them with beautiful women at big, fun-loving parties. I ran a couple of blind  tests on two drinkers I know very well. They failed, much to my delight, to tell their favourite brands from Great Western.

Decades ago I related to my high school students a story I’d read about a skin lotion, reasonably priced, being outsold by more expensive brands.  So they changed the name of their favourite product--without making any change in it--to a sexier one and increased the price. Sales jumped. A snob issue here or a false expectation of price equals quality? .

Choosing goods by brand starts early. Some of the high school  kids I taught decades ago favoured such high level sneakers and sportswear as Nike, Adidas  and Reebok.

I’ve tended to avoid jumping on the brand wagons most of my peers chose. I told myself that was due to my brave, free-minded  refusal to be a copycat, but maybe it was just because I’m a cheapskate--most of my peers’ choices were more expensive.

When I was a kid we boys  argued passionately about the  merits  of the various makes  of  the field tractors used on  the very small farms of that time and place. I smile now, because those tractors (Ford 8Ns, Farmall Ms, Allis Chalmers B) were so tiny by today’s standards, probably with less powerful motors than on a riding mower of today.

The owners of vehicles--cars, trucks, SUVs--are often very loyal to their brands. I tended to pick smaller, more fuel-efficient cars, again believing I was more responsible, less a sucker for the ads than  others--or was I just more of a tightwad? But because we pulled a camper, did some farming, traveled with dogs, and lived in a rural area where we often needed to pick up lumber, furniture and other large items from the city (those are my excuses) , we also always had a truck. Our present one is now 10 years old  and has less than 90,000 km on it. It will be seldom used  now that we’ve moved to the city.

In the Biology Strategy Insider website a writer makes the point that women respond to brands in different ways than men do. He says: “The female is oriented to the conceptual, to underlying dynamism, to the relationship between things, to stability over the long term.” Don’t worry, I don’t know what he’s talking about either. And due to limited space here and to cowardice I won’t explore women’s brand motivation any further. 

I would sum up brand choice as due to many factors, the three most important being (1) economy--most of us are interested in the price , (2) quality--a person may not buy a pricey car to show off, but for the comfort, durability and safety features it offers, and (3) status--brand snobbery. What’s your excuse?

Contact Esther or me to comment on columns. Our new address: 110 201 Cree Place Saskatoon, SK  S7K 7Z3. Phone 306 384 8657. Email:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Wednesday January 12, 2022