Tiger Woods’ notoriety has certainly never been questioned. His every move has always been tracked mostly on the golf course. Now, his every move off the golf course has been well documented and analyzed. His apparent infidelities and lack of loyalty made me think of today’s consumer, who also has a certain predilection for playing the field and a wandering eye, just like Tiger has shown.

These days, more than ever, consumers are very fickle. Price is certainly the big priority in their decision making process and, in addition, luxury may be re-defined for the next little while. But brand loyalty has also taken a hit in recent years as consumers played the field more often depending on changing tastes, shifts in lifestyle and, of course, prices being lowered.

As a prime example of brand hopping, take the category that I describe as “preppy tween/teen”. Abercrombie and Fitch first captured that market’s attention with its sexy advertising and bold store design that ascribed a certain attitude to their target market and resonated for quite a while – until American Eagle Outfitters came along and basically copied the looks and styling for 30% less. One more step was taken by Aeropostale (today’s darling) by copying the same look and feel of that same assortment but at even lower prices based on constant promotions. Consumers have flocked from A & F to AEO to Aero especially as the economy started to sour and consumers realized there wasn’t much of a difference in the look and styling amongst the three mall giants.

Gapkids was a brilliant concept that separated itself from Gymboree and the European, more expensive and refined crowd of children’s retailers. While babyGap still reigns supreme in its market, the kids consumer has been placated more frequently by the similar stylings of Children’s Place and even sister company Old Navy. Casual, cute and rugged fashions are now available for less and the dilution of the Gapkids brand has not abated as yet.

The consumer, more than ever, has a strong dose of Attention Deficit Disorder (A.D.D.). The lousy economy added fuel to this fire but it had been smoldering for a long time. Especially in the tween/teen segmentation, it is the norm. But we can make a case that at any age group, any demographic and any segment, the consumer is not as loyal and much more wary of what they are being offered than ever before.

There is no doubt that the explosion of online shopping and the overwhelming influence of the internet in terms of shopping patterns, shopping behaviour and the notion of comparison shopping within seconds, has affected the consumers’ psyche. Society now craves instant gratification more than ever. The consumer wants more quality and fashion at a much lower price than ever before. Store assortments turn over weekly at some brands (Forever 21 and Zara are prime examples, both from Europe) which means expectations are heightened for every other retailer.

Brands are becoming more about immediate satisfaction and fast fashion than about enduring quality and image. This is an important and subtle change. As long as what you have on looks great, people care less about where it’s from, how much it costs and/or how long it lasts.

So in reality, Tiger Woods’ behaviour is in lockstep with today’s consumer when it comes to brand loyalty. Unfortunately for the brands left behind, there is no pre-nuptial agreement to compensate for their unfaithfulness as there will be for Elin.

TheRetailTherapist 🙂