Cost continues to hold considerable influence on brand loyalty, yet emotional connections and ethical values are also becoming key loyalty drivers, according to new consumer research commissioned by Emarsys.
Emarsys has launched its first annual Loyalty Index which seeks to understand whether ‘true’ loyalty still exists and what it looks like today. The company surveyed over 7,000 consumers across five countries, including around 1,000 Australians.
The research found that 65 per cent of Aussie consumers will typically switch products if a cheaper option is available. More than half of consumers (51 per cent) highlighted consistently low prices as a top reason for staying loyal to a particular retailer. However, surprisingly, the most popular reason for being loyal to a brand was having a wide range of products (60 per cent), followed by regular discounts, loyalty points and incentives, which sat on par with consistently low pricing as a top factor.
Commenting on the findings, Adam Ioakim, Managing Director, APAC at Emarsys said: “Incentivised Loyalty exists and can lead customers to shop regularly whilst also considering themselves brand advocates. Having a quality product or experience is no longer enough. Brands must also work hard to provide attractive prices and valuable offers.”
Emotional connections and ethics come into question
The research showed that having an emotional connection with a brand, as well as having strong social and ethical values are important. In fact, 23 percent and 21 percent of consumers respectively listed these as top reasons for remaining loyal to a brand.
Age was a determining factor influencing respondents’ decisions to list having personal, emotional connections as their top reason from brand loyalty. A third of respondents aged 16 to 24 claimed this as their top reason compared with just 15 percent of respondents aged 45 to 54.
“Compared to other generations, millennials and Generation Z as a cohort tend to be much more influenced by emotional drivers when it comes to loyalty. They favour a personalised, human connection and shared social values and hold these almost equal to experience when it comes to building loyalty,” said Ioakim.
At the same time, more than a quarter of consumers revealed that there are some brands they regularly buy from despite disagreeing with their ethics. This begs the question; is convenience and price more important than brand values?
This ‘Silent Loyalty’, a term coined by Emarsys as part of a wider dissection of consumer’s loyalty triggers, describes the trend of customers who show loyalty to brands by shopping with them regularly, but without advocacy.
“Consumers may be silently loyal due to competitive prices, next-day delivery or a wide range of products, without actually considering themselves to be a brand ambassador,” said Ioakim.
The five types of loyalty
From the research, Emarsys has identified five categories of customer loyalty:
- Incentivised: Loyalty won through discounts, incentives and rewards
- Inherited: Loyalty built through association with other brands
- Silent: Loyalty without advocacy, built through guilty pleasure
- Ethical: Loyalty built through strong consumer values, ethics and emotions
- True: Loyalty build through brand love, the most unshakable of advocates