How strong is brand loyalty?

To save money, many women (68 percent) are willing to switch brands of over-the-counter medications, and 67 percent are willing to switch brands of milk or eggs, according to a recent poll conducted by ShopSmart, the shopping magazine published by Consumer Reports.
But only 29 percent say they would change their brand of pet food. Women are also reluctant to switch cosmetics (30 percent say they’d switch), personal-care items (48 percent) and toilet paper (49 percent).
The poll also found that when it comes to shopping for new appliances, 27 percent of women say that reliability is the most important consideration while the brand falls well behind the other factors in determining which appliance to purchase at 4 percent. However, women are not willing to sacrifice brand name to save money on appliances as only 38 percent of women said they would purchase a lesser-known brand to save money.
“We were surprised to find that women are so readily willing to switch medications,” Lisa Lee Freeman, editor-in-chief of ShopSmart, said. “However, I am happy to see that women value reliability over brand when it comes to large purchases such as appliances.”
The Consumer Reports National Research Center conducted a telephone survey of a nationally representative probability sample of telephone households, completing 1,006 interviews among women aged 18 and older in June 2008.

Brand loyalty now and then
— Now, more than last year, 29 percent of respondents say that they’re buying more generic or store brands; in households with kids, the number is 37 percent.
— Say thanks to Mom as 48 percent of women who almost always buy the same brand of groceries or canned goods say that their brand loyalty has been influenced by what they grew up with.

Who makes the call?
— 81 percent of married women say that they alone decide what toilet paper and other personal-care items to buy for the household.
— 77 percent say they alone decide what groceries and canned goods to buy.
— 63 percent say that when it comes to major appliances like fridges and ovens, they decide what brand to buy or make a joint decision with their spouse or significant other.

Extend the life of appliances
ShopSmart shares its guide to figuring out how to extend the life of home appliances and avoid costly repairs:
— Refrigerator: Vacuum the dust off the coils every few months. Check the door seals for leaks and moisture. If any are found, replacing a door gasket is a do-it-yourself job.
— Over-the-range microwave ovens: Don’t turn it on when it’s empty as this could create leaks in the seals.
— Dishwashers: Be sure silverware isn’t in the path of the spray arms; it can damage them. Check the filter beneath the lower basket to make sure that it’s clear of debris.
— Clothes washers: At least once a year, remove grit from the screens where the hoses attach to the pipes that supply the water. On conventional top-loading machines, also remove the agitator and wipe away any soap residue.
— TVs: Avoid using glass cleaners, especially ammonia-based ones, which can damage an LCD or plasma screen. A soft-dry cloth should do the trick. If not, moisten the cloth slightly with water.
— Computers: When using a laptop, try to work on a hard, flat surface, not a cushy one like a bed or carpet, which can block airflow and cause overheating.

Visit the Consumer Reports Web site at www.consumerreports.org to learn more.

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