Consistency is a good thing; it helps build brand loyalty, and we become comfortable with things a certain way. Most people don’t like change and when it occurs we often relate to it as a disturbance or even as a threat to our usual way of life. There are four types of customers all with varying degrees of acceptance of change:
1: Early Adopters – risk-takers, they like to try new things.
2: Pragmatists – willing to use/try something new but only as a last resort.
3: Conservatives – avoid anything new.
4: Laggards – pride themselves on the fact that they are the last to try anything new.
Personally, I am somewhere between an Early Adopter and a Pragmatist; you could say a cautious Early Adopter. Change grabs my attention initially but then in due course, I accept it as the way it’s going to be. An example of this was when I entered a McDonald’s restaurant to use their washroom. I was surprised by my experience. Previously, when I thought of think of McDonald’s, yellow arches and the colour red, plastic molded furniture, and spotty pubescent teenagers came to mind. This time, a young lady greeted me as she opened the door for me, smiling.
This restaurant had just undergone a renovation. The inside was modern, new, bright and clean. The washrooms were spectacular, reflective of a quality restaurant. As I did not eat there, I can only presume the food had not seen the same upgrade as the interior (imagine a Big Mac served with silver cutlery and cloth napkins). Herein lies the brand problem. The environment was no longer reflective of the cheap commodity food that it sells. I experienced “brand confusion.” It would be equivalent to eating at an expensive restaurant and the server arriving at the table with a $40 meal in a brown paper bag.
The roll-out of McDonald’s new interior across all of its locations took some time. As some restaurants had a new look and some the old, this added to customers’ brand confusion. However, brand confusion quickly dispersed, as McDonald’s were not changing their product, only the experience in which customers would consume their product. Continuing to get the same expected meal but now enjoy it in a nicer environment; this created a heightened customer dining experience.
For some customers, accepting brand change can take time, but for the company, the result is worth the wait. With repeat exposure to something new, customer brand confusion or even reluctance will eventually subside and be replaced with acceptance (even for Conservative customers and Laggards). This acceptance will ultimately result in a more positive customer brand experience when compared to eating at McDonald’s before the interior renovations.