Brand Loyalty Is On Its Way Out. Now What?

It’s well documented that consumers have shifted buying behaviors in order to balance convenience and availability against perceived value. The shift to digital was one way to safely fulfill these needs, opening up a sea of possibilities with new brands, categories, and choices.

For many, this has grown into a habit with staying power — the comfortability of abandoning a well-loved brand for something else that works just as well. This newfound mentality means that brand loyalty is in jeopardy.

But it’s not all bad. Consumers have broadened their thinking and willingness to try new things, leading to brand discovery. The playing field has been leveled for those smaller and newer. Consumers have more options online, and there’s a willingness — even a longing — to branch out. What’s even more exciting — or nerve-wracking, depending on your position — is that a majority of consumers who branch out plan to buy the new brand again, according to McKinsey research.  



But what if your brand is the one losing customers? Or you’re a newcomer that finally has a chance to compete? If loyalty can’t be counted on, how should efforts be prioritized?

To reap the benefits of brand discovery, marketers have to be proactive:

Speak directly to your consumer. Understand where your key audiences are and get in front of them. Many consumers are spending more time on social media and digital marketplaces. Advertising here is a great way to reach them, even as these channels become more competitive.

Create and optimize content based on consumer needs and interests. See an increase in search volume and sales related to your product? Capitalize on the opportunity by creating content that aligns and optimize accordingly. Determine the gaps in competition where you could succeed. Layer search data on top of your own to understand opportunities and prioritize channel, audience and asset types.

Give consumers a reason to choose your brand.  Invest in partnerships with like-minded influencers. Seeing a product in action via reliable sources is important to gain the trust of new consumers who can’t experience it firsthand before buying. Nineteen percent of Gen Z-ers have discovered new products through influencer endorsements, according to GWI. With spending power of $143 billion (per a Barkley report), that’s huge!

The research and consideration phase has been elongated. Provide comparison content that highlights your company’s differentiators to make it easy for those shopping around.

Be omnipresent and make it easy to convert. Digital visibility is more important than in-store shelf space, but in-store experiences shouldn’t be neglected. Make sure all shopping avenues are up to par. Information needs to be accurate and consistent across digital properties. 

Test, test, test. Testing cannot be overvalued. From audiences to tactics to messaging, plan ahead to understand what drives the best performance.

While worthy of attention, losing brand loyalty isn’t a curse. You may have to work harder and in new ways, or bring in experts to better understand today’s consumer, but there’s opportunity here. Is it scary? Yes. But will losing brand loyalty define your success? Only if you let it.

4 comments about "Brand Loyalty Is On Its Way Out. Now What?".
Check to receive email when comments are posted.
  1. Ronald Kurtz from American Affluence Research Center, March 12, 2021 at 1:39 p.m.

    Brqands and channels of distribution have no one but themselves to blame for the decline in customer loyalty. Very few understand what is really important to their customers and even fewer are willing to make the effort and investment to assure customer satsfaction and loyalty. 

  2. Jim Meskauskas from Media Darwin, Inc., March 15, 2021 at 1:26 p.m.

    The two most important factor to a brand's growth and success is physical availability and mental availability.  While we frequently hear about surveys that indicate a large shit from established brands to upstarts, the survey is rarely followed up with the shift in share that should be demonstrable if the shift is genuinely significant.  A quick look at major brands show that share shifts little if at all over time.  Coca Cola has had practically the same market share since 2004.  After years of aggressive spending, GEICO and Progressive are the only audo insurers to show share grown, Progressive being the biggest mover, by just over 1%.  The truth is that brand loyalty has a lot to do with that physical and mental availabity, even if in surveys consumes in large numbers say they want a change or are planning on making a choice.

    There may be noticable shifts in smaller if well-established brands, but the brand switching we as an industry talk a lot about doesn't happen nearly as much as we talk about it.

  3. Ronald Kurtz from American Affluence Research Center, March 15, 2021 at 1:41 p.m.

    I tend to agree with Jim's comments. Consumers do not change as rapidly and extensively as consultants and researchers would like us to believe. 

  4. John Grono from GAP Research replied, March 15, 2021 at 7:11 p.m.

    Thank you Jim for your erudite and accurate comment.

Next story loading loading..

Discover Our Publications