Brand loyalty: Grape Nuts, Burger King

By Tom Dougherty
Brand loyalty: Grape Nuts, Burger King

Brand loyalty: Grape Nuts, Burger King

You’d have trouble finding two brands as dissimilar as Grape Nuts and Burger King. But both serve as interesting test cases in brand loyalty.

Post announced that Grape-Nuts will be back on the shelves next month. Bringing cheers from its loyal fans.

Burger King announces a loyalty program that’s doomed to fail.

What’s the difference?

Brand LoyaltyLet’s look at the brand loyalty of Grape-Nuts first. The cereal has been missing from groceries because of shortages of its wheat and barley product. The brand says supply-chain constraints and a higher demand for cereal during the pandemic led to those shortages.

So, for months, fans cried on social media that they weren’t getting their daily fix. Some were even shelling out high prices for boxes from sources like eBay while the shortage continued.

“The lesson is that tactics alone don’t create preference. Meaning creates that. Just saying brand loyalty doesn’t mean you have it.”

Just saying you have brand loyalty doesn’t mean you have it

Why the loyalty? First, I’m not so sure the loyalty is as widespread as some think. Many cereal brands are seeing an uptick in sales during the pandemic. But it’s a false positive. It’s just because so many of us are now working from home that the on-the-run options are less coveted.

And I think the Grape Nuts crowd is simply the outraged few. However, brand loyalty became more acute when the cereal wasn’t available. Scarcity can be a reason for preference. We all want what we cannot have.

Or, as Groucho Marx said, “I don’t want to belong to any club that will accept me as a member.”

Burger King Desktop RewardsSpeaking of which. Why would anyone want to be a member of the Burger King club? It’s the most confusing brand in fast food. It doesn’t know what it stands for. It has a burger in the name. But keeps trying to generate brand loyalty with a revolving menu of non-burger options. It takes no stand.

The Grape-Nuts brand stands for the original health cereal. Having been around since the 1890s and preferred by Edmund Hillary. For those who cherish that legacy, Grape-Nuts is preferred. Especially when its availability remains scarce. I would expect a big bump for Post when Grape Nuts returns. Then sales will return to normal.

Burger King? My god, it remains the antithesis of brand loyalty. In order for you to be loyal to a brand, that brand must first, you know, be a meaningful brand.

The lesson is that tactics alone don’t create preference. Meaning creates that. Just saying brand loyalty doesn’t mean you have it.

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