With the emergence of online shopping, we are now able to view thousands of options for products. We can compare price, quality, and customer reviews instantly like we have never been able to before. This newfound consumer power begs the question: Do we care about brand name products anymore?
For the most part, the answer seems to be no. Why would we? The internet allows us to see thousands of options instantly. You can compare the price, quality, and customer reviews. Advertising is no longer reserved for big companies, allowing smaller businesses to gain attention as well. Also, People crave the uniqueness and humanity that is provided by smaller businesses.
In the past, people have trusted big brands like Tide or Macy's for quality products. Diverging from these brands for a less expensive product meant sacrificing quality for the price. However, this is recently not the case. The emergence of smaller companies as competitors in the online marketplace allows for better prices at the same quality. One company, in particular, Brandless, prides itself on providing high-quality products at a lower price because they eliminate the "brand tax." Brandless prides itself on replacing a logo on their products with real facts about the product. This allows people to see exactly what they are getting and the quality of the product all for better prices than their competitors. The emergence of online shopping companies allows for people to compare prices and quality to find the intersection of the two that best fits their lifestyle.
What drives this wealth of information is customer reviews. In the past, people did not trust smaller brands because they simply did not have anyone who could vouch for the quality of the products. People now can read thousands of customer reviews on any product they would like, telling them exactly what they think of the product, its price, and its quality. This newfound wealth of information allows people to step away from their big brand loyalty and feel secure trying new out new brands that are cheaper, better quality, or both.
We have all seen it on social media before; Posts from influencers or ads on Instagram and Twitter encourage us to buy things like bracelets and clothes from smaller companies we have never even heard of before. Advertising is no longer limited to ads in newspapers or on television. Influencers on social media provide a platform for smaller companies to advertise as successfully as large ones. Ads on Instagram and Twitter serve as clickbait, drawing in viewers to notice smaller companies. What this means is that it is more cost effective for smaller companies to advertise on social media via advertisements or influencers, enabling them to draw in more customers based purely on their reviews, despite the lack of recognition of their brand name.
One other argument as to why we are moving away from brand name products is that they lack humanity in them. As the marketplace becomes increasingly diverse in its needs and wants, consumers crave uniqueness and originality that reflects this. One site pioneering the push away from large brands is Etsy. The concept of a "local" marketplace online that allows people to buy from small vendors appeals to our thirst for humanity that is lost in a big brand company. People can buy one-of-a-kind items for almost anything they could ever want and know the name of the person who made it and exactly where it is coming from. Etsy prides itself on three things: Secure Shopping, Independent Sellers, and Unique Everything. They state "If it's handcrafted, vintage, custom, or unique, it's on Etsy" illustrating just how prominent their appeal to shop small is.
Simply put, consumers want original things that are unlike their mass-produced counterparts. They want their purchases to reflect their personality. By shopping small, they can get customized goods, tailored to exactly their needs and wants instead of purchasing an item that has thousands of others just like it floating around.
Long gone are the days when you needed to rely on brand names for an indication of quality. A quick Google search will provide one with thousands of reviews, recommendations, and even pictures comparing the quality and price of a good. Consumer reviews allow people to recommend products or dissuade people from buying them. This is furthered by the emergence of advertising via influencers and ads on social media. People are beginning to want their products to reflect themselves more and more, driving consumers to choose smaller shops over big brands.