The Covid 19 pandemic has seen variants across the entire spectrum of human behavior, including consumers’ brand loyalty. The latest McKinsey reports, “In the US, more than 60% of consumers who tried a new behavior plan to stick with it post-crisis.” A second study agreed, saying that 62% of people who changed their preferred brand pre-pandemic will most likely make it a permanent change.
Research says during the pandemic, consumers have changed their shopping choices. When they didn’t find a particular product with a specific retailer, they moved on to a different brand. This causes supply chain disruptions globally. Availability, convenience, and comfort took precedence during times of scarcity.
We cannot overlook Post pandemic changes in consumer behavior as temporary. It can shape the future trajectory of brands and customer relationships.
Buying Behaviour Pre-Pandemic
The change in buying approach is not entirely a post-pandemic trend. In 2019, a study of more than 34000 customers by Verint® Systems Inc. stated that brand loyalty has steadily declined for years. More than 60% of the people interviewed in the study said that it was very likely for them to switch to a competitor with better customer service. A report by Accenture Strategy found nearly 90% of buyers were quicker to shift to a new brand than they were three years back.
Brand Loyalty Is A Thing Of The Past
Brand loyalty is not just declining. It is quickly diminishing. In the era of e-commerce and social media, buyers have plenty of choices. There has been a mass migration of buyers onto the internet. Billboards and television ads are almost dead. Hence, consumers today tend to be more versatile and less loyal than ever. Research on consumer satisfaction indexes has long proven that despite having a positive experience with an existing brand, satisfied consumers are less likely to buy the same car, shampoo, or washing machine again.
Previous research indicates that customers are invested in a brand for reasons like consistency, increase in value, quality, reward points, personalized gifts, etc. Today, brands are struggling to recall value. Between times of loyalty to no brand loyalty, the world around us has gradually but significantly shifted.
Reasons For Changing Consumer Behavior
Some of the reasons that can explain the changing consumer behavior are:
Product Availability – With shutdowns happening since 2019, many products went off the shelves. Despite preferences, consumers found more options – similar and sometimes better in quality.
Exposure to online reviews – Customers used to listen to brands. Now, they have the option to read online reviews and assess the product’s quality. We see people reading an online review and saying, “I am going to try it,” now more than ever.
Customer service – More than 85% of customers say that excellent customer service is a ‘make it or break it moment’ for them when selecting a service provider.
Convenience – When a diverse range of products is available at a screen swipe, an average buyer wants maximum comfort. 68% of consumers say they intend to engage with a brand that makes it easy for them.
Technology – Close to 50% of customers say that they are more likely to stay loyal to brands with improved technology than their counterparts. We often associate good tech with better customer engagement.
Human contact – In sharp contrast to the previous point, while many customers prefer self-service, they also find it comfortable to engage with a person across phone and digital platforms. Non-availability of people in customer service proved to be a firm no-no for buyers.
While customer service has improved across services, some outperforming brands and retailers have set the bar high. Today’s world is fast evolving to provide the best shopping experiences online. Buyers don’t have to be on their feet all day hopping from one store to another. It is not enough to be good or better. Be the best to stand a chance at winning the buyer’s brand loyalty.
Value for Money
“Value for money” is the primary reason to switch brands more often. Increasing global awareness of ethical, sustainable, and value-based brands (e.g., supporting local businesses) are some reasons why buyers choose to move away from certain brands or products.
Another challenge for retailers when retaining loyal customers on the internet is competing for the buyer’s attention, engagement and consistency. While it takes time to nurture such loyalty, in the face of the bombardment of information on the internet, people who want to buy do not have the attention span for one particular brand. Therefore retailers investing at least 50% of their budget in improving customer experience are set to gain in the long run because research says loyal customers are more likely to spend 67% more than new customers. It is always easier to sell to someone ‘again’ than for the first time. Technology can make personalized products and services for all buyers a reality. Brands can reap rich profits through early investments in robust IT.
The soar in online shopping is unlikely to decline after the pandemic abates. For brands to maintain a solid relationship with their valuable customers, they must keep a firm grip on their brand loyalty programs. Instead of running isolated programs around marketing, companies should integrate brand loyalty goals into all departments such as operation, finance, and technology. It is crucial to ensure seamless coalescing of operation, marketing, and the tech footprint of the company to build brand loyalty. Swift and smooth returns, replacements, and refunds, with efficient and polite customer care, are essential success factors for a brand. Couple it with a user-friendly online interface. And you have the success mantra for customer retention in the long run.
Mindfire Solutions provides robust IT solutions and a user-friendly online interface that can help you bridge the gap with your customers. Connect with us to know more about solutions that can help grow your business.