The waning brand loyalty

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Brand loyalty is a factor in products’ existence, especially those that have survived for several decades. But going by a survey conducted by Nielsen Holdings Plc, the era of brand loyalty may be nearing its end. JANE CHIJIOKE writes on the issues involved.

Youthful Tobi Adewale is loyal to a particular brand of milk. His love for it resulted from an age-long family addiction to this brand. To him, he would rather forgo his beverage than to opt for another milk aside his prefered brand when taking any beverage.  However, his continued love for this brand was  tested when his girlfriend introduced him to another brand.

Not only did he realise that the new  brand was more cost effective, he realised that it met his taste-bud satisfaction and nutritional requirement. Besides, the newly found milk brand is packaged in various sizes and prices, hence, taking some financial stress off him. “Being the milk my family uses, I have always believed that it is best in the market.  But since I tried the one my girlfriend introduced me to, I realised that there are other good brands out there.  In fact, aside being affordable, I like the taste, smoothness and its availability in local stores in my neighbourhood,” Adewale explained.

Likewise, Mrs. Omowunmi Asore, a housewife, after nursing three babies with a particular brand of cream, says her love for that particular brand of baby cream has waned. Upon the delivery of her fourth child, Asore said there was a desire for her to try another baby cream product, especially when the cost of her preferred cream has tripled.

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According to the nursing mother, the decision was not just about breaking the norm, it was about exploring other brands, especially when the hardship of economic realities set in. The result of this is that her previous brand is now optional or better still, completely jettisoned.

Indeed, a report published in June 2019 from a research conducted by renowned global measurement and data analytics company, Nielsen Holdings Plc, indicated that disloyalty levels among consumers are on the rise. It stated that a paltry eight per cent of people consider themselves as committed loyalists to their favourite brands.

Several factors are said to be responsible for this. For instance, Nielsen’s report said consumers are actively on the lookout for new brands as the gamble of buying new products is de-risked by levers such as rising income levels in developing markets.

This position summarises some of the reasons brand loyalty is waning. With various brands competing and delivering almost the same value, most consumers now explore other products than being adherents to a particular brand.

Experts in branding agreed with the exploration theory in the disappearing brand loyalty saga. In taking a position on the subject, they contended that digital discovery was a driver to brand switching. This is considering that the growth of various digital platforms has allowed customers to be armed with necessary information. By extension, brand experts further said today’s consumers are attracted to purchasing behaviours that lead them to product they feel is right and at the right price at any given time.

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A consumer insight analyst, Benson Adegoke, agreed with this position. According to him, consumers are fast changing towards personalised experiences regardless of brand loyalty. Besides, he added, they are open to choices that render same value or “perceived” same value. Yet, Adegoke made it known that price differential, customer service delivery, product quality, among others, also  influence brand shifting.

“They can be very choosy when it comes to  shopping. They spend  hours looking for the right deal. Others would only consider a product if it  has garnered enough positive ratings and reviews or  it is been recommended to them by their  closest confidants. All these also contribute to brand shifting,” Adegoke explained.

Still, Nielsen’s study  buttresses other experts’ position on brand shifting. A cursory look into the report indicates that a 46 per cent increase in consumer’s willingness to try new brands they have not tried before. It further showed that 39 per cent of consumers singled out value for money as the key factor influencing their choice of brand; 34 per cent said their choice is about enhanced or superior quality; 32 per cent based their choice on price, while choice based on convenience accounted for 31per cent. Interestingly, only 28 per cent of consumers are influenced by the fact that a brand is well known and trusted.

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Nielsen further clarified that at a regional level, value for money stands out as the key influencer of brand choice in Africa and the Middle East, placing it at 44 per cent.

“With the overwhelming majority of consumers actively or passively open to unfaithful actions, the risks for brand owners have never been greater. The drag effect of consumer demand for choice will affect existing marketing and product development efforts if brands do not aggressively address disloyalty in the marketplace,” said Nielsen Senior Vice President, Joe Ellis, adding that there was need for more aggressive approach to tackle brand disloyalty.

Meanwhile, Scott McKenzie, Nielsen’s Intelligence leader, explained that with this increasing number in disloyalty, brands on all parts of the consumer journey still continue to throw money against marketing efforts aimed at holding or growing loyalty without a clear benefit proposal.

“We think that’s  a mistake that needs to stop being repeated. A helpful lens to determine a new approach may start with considering degrees of loyalty and disloyalty.

“In all environments, there will continue to be better quality and more quantity on the way. ‘Gaining ground’ or ‘loving the latest’ is the new battleground for brands. Consumers are less likely to form strong, long-lasting bonds with brands, especially when ties may have been weak,” he said.

(The Nation)