British constumers want more than just rewards

British constumers want more than just rewards Duncan is an award-winning researcher, with 20 years experience of analysing the technology industry, specialising in cloud computing, edge computing, blockchain, cybersecurity and marketing technology.

The number of British people who expect to be rewarded for their loyalty to brands has increased significantly in the last three years.

Young adults aged 18 to 24 are particularly keen on rewards programmes. More than half (51%) believe being rewarded for loyalty is among the top three ways brands can support society during crises, significantly surpassing their US counterparts (39%).

These are among findings from the latest Value Shift research from Hall & Partners, which interviewed 4,000 consumers in both the UK and US about what matters most to them when they purchase consumer goods and services.

Loyalty programmes gain traction

Being offered good deals and incentives was the most meaningful intervention a brand could offer for 60% of UK consumers. Second was being rewarded for brand loyalty (52%) and in third place was supporting staff and keeping people employed (45%). For the host of UK retailers – including Aldi, Tesco, Co-op and M&S – who have recently announced salary increases, this is a sign that they recognise how important their social responsibility is to retain customer footfall.

Three years ago, when Hall & Partners last reviewed how consumer values had shifted, being rewarded for loyalty was the least significant factor when choosing a brand, with just 17% of global consumers claiming it was the most important intervention a brand could make.

This research suggests that consumers have no wish to receive their rewards at the expense of a brand’s employees being treated unfairly, or worse losing their jobs. And they are increasingly prepared to switch when brands don’t play fair. 

Kurt Stuhllemmer, partner at Hall & Partners, said: “Consumers are still adjusting purchasing decisions to a new higher cost of living. Brands need to work harder to make sure their value proposition is clear and strong as even everyday essential items become more discretionary. Throwing out occasional offers will not be enough to prove to customers that you’re on their side. Instead, brands need to deepen the relationship with them in meaningful ways to create value including treating employees fairly. Asking what they can do to serve their customers better, make their lives easier or simply thank them for their loyalty. This is critical at a time when the pressure on ‘mental loads’ and ‘physical wallets’ is intense.”

Brand loyalty in the face of financial pressures

While 73% of consumers prefer trusted brands, products, or experiences, a similar percentage, 75% also shop around for the best price. Additionally, nearly half of consumers (48%) are open to switching to a better-suited product. This trend is understandable in the context of the UK’s persistently high cost of living, despite a slight easing in inflation rates. It underscores the balancing act consumers face between their loyalty to beloved brands and the necessity of making cost-conscious decisions.

“This research underscores the profound impact of the economic challenges faced by consumers,” Stuhllemmer continued. “While brand loyalty persists, it’s evident that we’re entering an era where consumers prioritise value and community over conspicuous consumption. Brands must pivot towards strategies that foster long-term relationships with customers, especially younger generations who demand more from the brands they support. Prioritising a reassessment of customer loyalty should be a key focus for brands moving forward.”

Other report highlights include:

  • Loyalty dynamics. Understanding loyalty involves recognising both positive and negative aspects. Bad loyalty, often termed habitual behavior, occurs when individuals respond to questions about brand choice with “this is what I always do.” While habitual brand users can constitute a loyal customer base, not all of them hold positive associations with the brand, especially among consumers who enjoy trying new things (58%) and younger age groups between 18 and 44 years (69%). Conversely, more than half (51%) of British consumers aged over 45 years tend to stick to tried and trusted brands.
  • Consumers value fair treatment by brands. Brands recognise the economic shift and prioritise fairness for employees and community support. Neglecting social responsibilities can harm brand loyalty, emphasising the importance of brands contributing positively to society. Brands need to show how they are helping society, not destabilising it.
  • Consumers stay loyal to trusted brands. Once consumers find a good quality product they like and trust, most consumers, 52% will stay loyal.

Interested in hearing leading global brands discuss subjects like this in person? Find out more about Digital Marketing World Forum (#DMWF) Europe, London, North America, and Singapore.

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