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The Cost of Brand Loyalty
By: Maryann Fabian
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Imagine if an employee greeted you at the entrance to a store, noted what kind of car you drove, how you were dressed, and what cellphone you carried, and then determined what prices you should pay. Or, they escorted you to “your” aisle in the store so you could view more costly merchandise. Would you feel you were discriminated? Or happy that someone was catering to your specific shopping habits?

Well, it’s happening — online, at least. Last summer, Orbitz experimented on Mac users. It began showing customers using Macs pricier options in their search results than PC users. The reason, according to the company, was that if you were willing to shell out more money for an Apple computer then you must have more disposable income and would pay $20 to $30 more for a hotel room than a PC user.

Now the practice has expanded. According to a recent report in the New York Times, shoppers see different prices at online retailers based on their brand of browser. Digital Folio did a little browsing and noted the price discrepancy. When the firm used Chrome to shop for a Samsung TV on Newegg.com, it was quoted $997 but when it used Firefox or Internet Explorer, the same TV was $1,399.

Whether a customer uses Safari, IE, Firefox, or Chrome says a lot about him or her, apparently. Stereotypes abound. IE users are “old.” People use Safari because it came preloaded on their Macs. One company, Strangeloop Networks, analyzed data from ecommerce sites and discovered the following:  

• People using newer browser versions spend more. On one site, IE8 users spent 29% more than IE7 users.
• IE users spend up to 45 seconds longer on a site than others.
• Chrome users spend 10% more than Firefox users.
• iPhone users view fewer pages and spend 28% less time on a site than Android users.

Before this blog begins to resemble a rambling math word problem (A train carrying a Safari user leaves the station at 6PM traveling west...), here’s a question for you: How much are you willing to pay for your association with a particular brand? And, more importantly, how much will your customer?

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About the Author
Maryann Fabian is a copywriter who has crafted the voice of some of this country's best brands.
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