As an avid technology consumer, I am selective about the technology I use, whether it be the manufacturer of my phone or the organisation running my preferred social media platform. When choosing to buy into a new brand, I have found it infeasible to objectively review every available option. Reflecting on this fact drove me to explore the underlying reasons why consumers make such subjective choices.
Following the research, I discovered that consumer brand loyalty typically goes far beyond specification comparisons or appealing marketing campaigns. Instead, consumers have an overwhelming desire for authenticity in a brand, no matter what product or service they are selling. This can be highlighted in Figure 1, which reveals a general correlation between technology companies’ market value and their respective level of authenticity, with the top four all being very highly trusted amongst consumers.
Although the ubiquity of the top companies within a consumer’s life is likely to partially account for their high authenticity, the lack of trust that Facebook has, a company with over 2 billion users (Facebook, 2017), indicates there may be more contributing factors.
In fact, Facebook’s poor record is reflective of many technology companies which connect with users solely through software, rather than selling them a physical product (Stallman, 2002) (Dwyer, Hiltz & Passerini, 2007). As a consumer, this seemingly psychological preference for physical products makes a lot of sense. With a physical product, the consumer can employ all of their senses to examine the product which may well define what the manufacturer means to them. Whilst Facebook may claim to have connected billions of people together, the company continues to struggle to connect with them itself.