How Do Today’s Shoppers Define Loyalty?

Study from 84.51° offers shopper insights and recommendations for brands, retailers
Emily Crowe
Multimedia Editor

When it comes to loyalty, grocery shoppers have differing views of what it means to throw their weight behind certain brands. Following years of shopping disruptions and ongoing economic uncertainties, a recent study from 84.51°, Kroger’s retail data science, insights and media company, is taking a deeper look at what drives customer loyalty today, as well as how brands and retailers can respond.

According to the study, more than 30% of shoppers define loyalty based on their purchase behavior, 24% define it based on consideration and 43% base it on preference.

“To a majority of shoppers, brand loyalty means buying a brand ‘most often’ while being open to purchasing other brands,” the study states. “The same can be said for retailer loyalty. Only 6% of shoppers defined retailer loyalty as shopping at one retailer for all their needs, while 29% described it as a retailer where they shop ‘most often.’”

While this means that the basic definition of loyalty has shifted away from exclusivity, overall brand loyalty is strong for certain grocery and household items, and rising in other categories. The categories with the highest loyalty are laundry, soft drinks, coffee and bath tissue, while the categories with the lowest brand loyalty are eggs and refrigerated juice.

Shopper in Store
Brand loyalty is an ever-evolving concept, but today's shoppers often base their loyalty on trust and value.

Further, trust and brand value are considered key drivers toward gaining customer loyalty, with trust leading directly to a feeling of brand value. For example, offering free items is a top loyalty driver for shoppers between the ages 35 and 44, but shoppers ages 65 and older are most concerned that a brand is a good value for the money. 

All of this means that brands and retailers need to continuously earn shopper dedication and find ways to connect with them instead of remaining complacent, 84.51° asserts, especially when it comes to differentiation. The company’s recommendations include:

  1. Think personalization: Personalization drives loyalty. Fifty-nine percent of shoppers are likely to purchase a certain brand or shop at a certain retailer if they receive personalized content for that brand or retailer.
  2. Reach shoppers at key moments: Engage shoppers as they fill their cart online or in-store with personalized messaging and coupons. 
  3. Give shoppers more of what they want: Identify the elements of a product that shoppers value most and remind lapsed shoppers of those features as well as new features that may interest them. 
  4. Find common threads between shoppers: Thirty-two percent of respondents claim to be brand exclusive, meaning they only ever buy that brand and nothing else, or it is the brand they buy most often. These shoppers also tend to be retailer exclusive (45%), meaning they shop one retailer for all of their needs, or they shop at one retailer most often. Find common shopping behaviors and preferences between brand and retailer exclusive shoppers to uncover opportunities to better meet their needs.

Cincinnati-based Kroger has almost 2,800 retail food stores under a variety of banner names. The company is No. 4 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America. PG also named Kroger one of the Retailers of the Century

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