Are you a fickle consumer or a smart shopper?

I was surprised to read this in today’s New York Times:

Nearly four in five Americans were repeat buyers back then, staunchly faithful to brands that they knew, trusted and were part of their self-image. The allegiance often continued through generations of families, like party affiliations in politics.

Now, partly as a result of increasingly fickle consumer tastes and the industry turmoil in Detroit, that hard-won loyalty is largely gone. (Emphasis added)

Are we fickle because we moved away from one brand and toward another?  It seems to me that there has been a shift in mindset among car buyers but that doesn’t mean from stable to fickle.  Also, some of the brands that people are moving away from are soon disappearing from the marketplace.  Hard to remain loyal to a brand like Pontiac that is being decommissioned.

Shifting Car Preferences from NY Times

Shifting Car Preferences from NY Times

The growth of Hyundai and Kia are noted in the article but what isn’t noted is the really really smart marketing that Hyundai has done with their buyers assurance plan.  Switching to a different brand that better meets your needs is not fickle. People change their minds all the time without being fickle.

“Fickle consumers” makes us sound like the a teenager with a crush on a different person every week.  To their credit, the Times does go on to acknowledge the role internet has played by opening up a whole new way of thinking about car buying.  Perhaps I am being unfair.  One sentence should not drag down what is an otherwise interesting story.

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