Get this: 73% of people who currently use Tide laundry detergent report that it was the detergent of choice in their household growing up. This is an important part of a business model–when you own a business that seeks to maintain the same customers for life, it is important to understand the source that creates the habit. When it comes to laundry, you buy Tide because your mom bought Tide. Most importantly, it suggests that the purchasing habits formed during youth are critical to business success because it becomes part of the invisible script that sticks with a person throughout life.
Since I began covering stocks in 2011, almost every company imaginable has gone through an unpopular period. People didn’t want to touch Johnson & Johnson for a while, as a string of manufacturing recalls punished the stock in the $60s. An inability to deliver sales growth concurrent with price increases kept Procter & Gamble stagnating for a few years. A decline in the price of energy companies sent ExxonMobil and Chevron stock down 30% or more. General Electric, possibly the greatest industrial giant in the world, saw its price hover in the teens before recently becoming more appropriate priced around $28. Poor short-term news at Wal-Mart has sent the stock currently down to the $60 range. AT&T, with a century of dividend payments and a platform that will grow profits from $13 billion to $20 billion over the next five years, is currently unfashionable. Coca-Cola, Exhibit A for blue-chip investing, has been stuck in the $40s as the company figures out its next growth strategy. Even Facebook, the current darling of the financial media, saw its price decline from $42 to $17 before entering its current rise.