If you’re like the majority of grocery shoppers, you have a preferred brand of laundry detergent you’ll buy even if it’s more expensive than others. When it comes to refrigerated juice, though, just about any brand will do – for the right price.

That’s according to a recent survey by the retail data analytics company 84.51°. With inflation disrupting our usual shopping habits, brand loyalty has taken a hit lately, as shoppers stray from some of their usual brands to seek out lower-cost alternatives. But for some products, shoppers aren’t willing to switch. And for others, their only loyalty is to the product with the best price.

“It’s against this backdrop that consumer packaged goods companies have a prime chance to reimagine their approach to loyalty,” 84.51°’s report found, as it warned brands not to take loyal customers for granted, or “assume brand-loyal shoppers are immune to purchasing competing brands.”

To begin with, shoppers’ definition of loyalty may differ from how brands and retailers define it. Most shoppers define loyalty as the brand they purchase or the retailer they visit “most often” – but not exclusively. So loyalty can waver, and brands and retailers “can’t be complacent,” the report warns. “They need to continuously earn shopper dedication.”

Certain brand manufacturers have it easier than others. When asked the categories of products in which they are most brand loyal, number one on the list was laundry detergent, mentioned by 54%. Half had a preferred soft drink brand, 42% preferred a certain brand of coffee, and 41% gravitate to a particular brand of toilet paper.

Over the past year, shoppers said they’ve grown more loyal to preferred brands in categories such as milk, eggs, juice and yogurt – though eggs and juice still have the lowest rates of brand loyalty overall.


And much of the reason has to do with price. If eggs and juice are all pretty much the same, why spend more for a particular brand if you can choose one with a lower price?

Choosing a store with the best sales and promotions is the top factor that shoppers say determines where they buy their groceries. Quality, selection and a good rewards program also rank highly. When it comes to choosing specific brands, getting a “good value” is the top priority, while next on shoppers’ list of priorities is choosing brands that they trust.

“At first glance, loyalty appears to be a race to the best value as shoppers seek to get the most out of their money,” the report notes. “But trust and brand value are intertwined.” If you trust that a brand will meet your needs, you might be more loyal even if it means spending a little more. If you don’t trust the brand, no amount of savings may be enough to get you to buy it.

Consider the example of laundry detergent, which has the most loyal shoppers of any category. The majority of detergent shoppers who say they’re loyal to a specific brand opt for higher-end or natural brands that they know and trust, but which cost more. Shoppers who tend to buy lower-end detergents are less loyal to any particular brand, suggesting that price is most important to them.

But “even brands that enjoy a high level of loyalty need to give shoppers a reason to remain faithful,” 84.51° warns. Among the report’s suggestions to brands is “personalized messaging and coupons” and “loyalty programs that provide value to shoppers with relevant brand offerings and savings on their preferred brands.”

Because, in the end, “even brand loyal shoppers are not immune to price hikes.” If budgets are tight and certain brands are out of reach, even a brand’s best customers can get to a breaking point. Whether it’s price, or quality, or trust, “there is no reason to expect shoppers to lower their expectations in exchange for their allegiance,” 84.51° concludes.

So buy the brands you like, in the stores you prefer. But if prices get out of hand, you get a say – because a willingness to switch, will show brands and retailers that your loyalty doesn’t come cheap.

Image source: Kroger


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