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This morning, our illustrious Managing Director Mags appeared on the airwaves to discuss the state of brands when compared with other tools used by consumers to make purchasing decisions. In a recessionary society, does brand loyalty still matter more, or even as much, as being able to secure the best deal?

The first thing that should be considered is the ubiquity of the concept of a ‘brand’: of course, when we pick up a can of Heinz beans or McVities biscuits, we are acutely aware of the fact that we are buying into a brand, but is this equally true of the loose apples and oranges at the local greengrocer? The word ‘brand’ began simply as a description of the hot stamp applied to the cattle from different farms, and the idea remains broadly similar today – a brand is simply a criterion of identity, a method of telling one supplier’s product apart from that of another. It is clear, then, that anything which identifies the producer or shop acts in this way as a brand. The name of the greengrocer or farm on the receipt or packaging serves exactly the same function as the elaborate logos and expensive slogans of the large corporations. They act as a symbol of trust to the consumer, who knows where his food and clothing and other products come from, and that it will be consistent from one day to another.

That is not to say, however, that brands like Lurpak and Tilda should abandon all hope for success in a recession, but it would be naive to suggest that steps do not need to be taken to consolidate their consumer base and ensure that business is not lost to other, perhaps cheaper, brands. Loyalty schemes, promotional mechanics and other less tangible measures like excellent PR can help to mitigate business loss, and even draw new customers.

Ultimately, regardless of the economic climate, brands still have the final say. People know what they like and like what they know, and only with the most basic goods is there a noticeable shift to cheaper alternatives. Devaluation and price cutting are not the answer for leading brands of basic goods as the urge to stick with what we know and trust is ultimately stronger in consumers than the urge to bargain-hunt.

To hear Mags on Radio Lancashire go to http://www.bbc.co.uk/i/p00q3b1w/