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Brand switching is on the rise, putting brand loyalty at risk

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According to new research from Toluna, a consumer intelligence platform, supply chain issues are affecting Australians’ moods and shopping behaviours. 

The research surveyed 1,031 Australians between 4-9 February 2022 and showed that many shoppers are happy to switch brands when their preferred brand isn’t available, leaving long-term brand loyalty in question.   

Most Australians surveyed (73 per cent) have recently experienced product shortages because of ongoing supply chain issues. In stores, shoppers continue to experience empty shelves (88 per cent) and buying limits (66 per cent), while online shoppers are experiencing delivery delays (50 per cent) and brand unavailability (51 per cent).   

Grocery stores appear to be the most affected, with 85 per cent of respondents citing availability issues in grocery stores. However, shoppers also report having experienced product shortages in clothing and footwear retailers (19 per cent), homewares (16 per cent), and electrical stores (14 per cent).   

According to two-thirds of respondents (64 per cent), fresh meat is proving the most difficult item to source, with pantry products (44 per cent), fresh fruit and vegetables (40 per cent), and household cleaning products (33 per cent) also difficult to find. 

When it came to online shopping, almost half (47 per cent) of respondents said they were willing to go back to in-store shopping due to products being temporarily unavailable online. 

Toluna Australia & New Zealand country director, Sej Patel, said the ongoing issues with product unavailability are affecting shopping behaviour.   

“Australian shoppers are clearly frustrated by the continued supply chain issues and are changing their behaviour as a result,” Patel said. “Our research shows that people are brand switching more than ever, as well as shopping around to find the items they need. For brands and retailers, this may have serious implications for brand loyalty.  

“While some shoppers will happily revert back to their favourite brands when they return to the shelves, other shoppers will just as happily stick with the substitute brands they tried. Even once the supply chain issues are resolved, the next six to twelve months will be a challenging time in retail as brands fight to retain new customers while trying to win back old ones.” 

Brand loyalty and changing behaviours  

When their preferred brand is unavailable, most (77 per cent) Australians are willing to substitute for a new brand – something which may pose an issue for long-term brand loyalty. Across the various categories, shoppers were happiest to switch to a different brand of chilled dairy (54 per cent), household cleaning products (49 per cent), or alcohol (44 per cent) when their preferred brand was unavailable. However, Australians are more likely to shop around in search of their favourite fresh meat (40 per cent), pet food (40 per cent), or baby products (35 per cent).   

In addition to brand switching, half (50 per cent) of respondents are also now shopping in other locations, such as local butchers or farmers markets, that are less impacted by supply chain issues. Just under half (43 per cent) buy extra of the products they need once they come back in stock, and one in five (20 per cent) are stockpiling products such as canned goods, paracetamol, and toilet paper to boost supplies. 

In prep mode  

More than just an inconvenience, the supply chain issues are affecting shoppers’ moods. Two-thirds (67 per cent) of Australian shoppers feel disappointed and frustrated when they see empty shelves and missing products, while for some, it can make them feel stressed (35 per cent), anxious (36 per cent), or even angry (27 per cent).   

Australians are also preparing themselves in case they get sick and must isolate. One in three (30 per cent) have created a ‘COVID kit’ filled with medicines they may need if they get sick, while one in four (26 per cent) are ensuring they have enough pre-prepared food in the fridge, so they don’t need to cook if they’re feeling unwell. A quarter (27 per cent) of respondents are also ensuring they have a supply of rapid antigen tests (RATs) available on hand if they need.  

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