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Brand loyalty and path to purchase (when I cheated on Nike)

Yesterday, I cheated on Nike. I’ve loved the brand for as long as I can remember. I didn’t buy other shoes. But, for the first time in a long time, I bought a new brand.

 Brand loyalty pangs after buying a brand of shoe that wasn't Nike.

Brand loyalty pangs after buying a brand of shoe that wasn’t Nike.

But, why did I feel like I needed to choose Nike?

I identified with their brand image.

For me, I identified with Nike so I bought Nike. Brands that cultivate that level of self identification, to the point where people promote themselves as a “Nike girl” or “Nike guy” means companies are doing something right.

Still, a lot of considerations go into a purchase like price, product, promotions available and location of the item. In the case of premium brands like Nike, they have one particular advantage: brand image.

Nike owns the athlete image since “Just do it” became part of their brand personality. While competitors do have similar associations, Nike has developed an extensive brand image and line.

Nike had never let me down.

Delivering on promises is a way to build brand loyalty. My previous pairs of shoes had always lasted, felt good, and were worn across fitness activities. The brand image fueled my perception of how the shoes performed. Just like kids with new shoes that feel like they run faster, I felt like I performed better in my Nikes.

I saw Nike as the only choice.

When I went to look at shoes, I only looked at Nike. They were the only brand in my consideration set. I did not every contemplate another brand, so nothing could ever compete. In addition, Nike shoes became Nikes to me. Like Kleenex owning the disposable tissue space, to the point of almost going generic like Band-Aids, Nike owned the athletic shoe space for me. From my cleats, to shin guards and soccer balls, to athletic and cross-training shoes, Nike was it.

I would be considered a loyal customer, even a brand advocate, for Nike. So why did I make a purchase decision that defied my brand loyalty?

A trusted source recommended ASICS to me.

My close friend knew that I needed a new pair of shoes and recommended a competitor’s brand. While initially reluctant, he insisted that I should at least try them out. He said they were light, durable and would be a better fit for the fitness activities I do every day.

Given his background, college athlete and fitness advocate, I trusted that he had gone through tons of athletic shoes before reaching this conclusion. I also thought that a change of pace might be good for my feet since I had worn out my old pair.

An opportunity to buy shoes immediately and at a better price presented itself.

Another friend of mine let me know that a local retailer was selling shoes on clearance. While price had never been a main consideration for me, she told me she got a pair of ASICS for half of what I normally pay for shoes.

The new brand solved an existing problem of mine.

The friend that let me know about the sale also said she bought her shoes because she pronated while running. She said around four different pairs of ASICS would be great for that particular problem, and because I do the same exact thing, her recommendation stuck with me.

Because I could get a better value for my purchase at the local retailer, received a recommendation for the ASICS brand, completed online research confirming that several ASICS shoes could handle my pronation, and got to try them on, I bought my newest pair of shoes.


 Rocking my new ASICS at the gym before my yoga class.

Rocking my new ASICS at the gym before my yoga class.


The new pair fit well, don’t squeak from my inserts like my last ones, and seem light and durable. I went back for a second pair.

What brands do you consider yourself loyal to?

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