On Brand Loyalty
In 2001, a co-worker who I very much adored recommended Smartwool socks to me almost like it was a secret. Even after wearing Smartwools nearly everyday in the years since, the memory of her sharing that secret with me is one of the first things I think about when I think about the brand.
I’ve only been at this experiment for a couple weeks and I’m already feeling quite conflicted because I’ve identified myself for a long time as the kind of person who loves Smartwool. I’ve spent a lot of money on their merchandise over the past several years – a conservative guess would be $500-$600 (socks, scarves, sweaters, gifts) – and in justifying those purchases I’ve convinced myself that I’m worth it and so are my friends and family.
I know and appreciate the difference between a luxurious experience and an average one.
I am a generous person.
I support a company of folks like myself.
My money is going towards good.
Brand loyalty, in at least one sense, is knowing one’s self (or some glowy fantasy of who one might want to be) and accepting/honoring that.
Pitting myself against Smartwool to conduct this experiment is unexpectedly fraught. I feel like I’m betraying good people. That I’m not who I thought I was. Like I’m ganging up on my own kind.
But I feel manipulated. I’ve put my money and my recommendation behind a brand that has disappointed me. I want them to redeem themselves or to be outed for not performing to (my) expectations (that quality/expensive socks should last longer than mine do).