Do You Buy Based on a Brand’s Reliability Performance?
In short, you probably do, better reliability performance the better the brand image.
When I’m making a purchase I prefer to buy items that I either have personal experience work well over time (reliable) or have many comments and reviews noting the durability.
As a reliability engineer, I am often asked what kind of car I drive (a Toyota Highlander, if must know). Reliability does matter -not only to me- it matters for many making a buying decision.
When a product’s actual reliability performance exceeds the customers expected reliability performance, the customer may consider the product reliable. This experience builds and when supported by other experiences from the same brand, increases brand equity. High brand equity permits a price premium, increased brand loyalty, and increased positive word of mouth support.
Brand is in the eye of the consumer
Brand in this discussion is the customer’s perception of a company’s product line.
This includes more than just the actual or perceived reliability, as it may include a wide range of associations (I.e. Thoughts, feelings, perceptions, images, experiences, beliefs, attitudes, etc.) The brand itself is generally a mark to distinguish one seller’s product from another.
Not everyone purchases based on perceived reliability performance. Yet, the Consumer Reports annual car report tends to feature reliability based on owner-reported vehicle repairs.
In general, a brand of products that have higher quality/reliability than competitors enjoys higher brand loyalty and equity.
Managing brand image with reliability standards
When consumers associate reliability with brand image, the company strives to maintain that perception by creating reliable products. And, even one mishap (unintended acceleration in Toyota vehicles – or the floor mat issue) can seriously damage the brand.
Price discounts and reduced market share manifest as a financial loss for the brand.
Not all products have a connection between reliability performance and brand equity. Thus market research and consumer studies may reveal the extent of the linkage. Higher priced products, such as passenger vehicles and office equipment tend to have a strong connection between reliability and brand.
Products that are lower cost or considered commodity items, such as generic pencils printer paper, tend to have little or no connection between reliability and brand.
In some cases all the products in the category either have poor or high reliability thus none of the brands stands apart from others based on reliability, thus there is no separation between brands, thus no correlation to reliability performance.
The brand value of reliability
The value of product reliability is not only reducing warranty related costs, it is the improvement of brand loyalty.
What is your experience? Does reliability impact brands and if so in what way? Also, if you know of any studies that address these questions, please let me know.
Reliability Value (article)
Purpose of a Reliability Program (article)
Reliability Management and Risk (article)