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Brand Values Now the Key Drivers of Customer Loyalty

New research from Toluna points says that the concept of consumer loyalty has been turned on its head with Kiwis now more inclined to support brands who align with their personal values.

Environmental friendliness is one such core value Kiwi shoppers look to when deciding on which brand to align with.

This, according to research coming out of the ‘Understanding the 2021 Consumer’ Global Barometer Study. A regular index by Toluna that taps into a community panel of 36+ million members providing accurate and timely information on the world’s current perceptions.

The latest research surveyed 547 respondents in New Zealand between 21-25 May 2021 and points to the pandemic as being a major disruptor when it comes to our shopping habits.

“Over the last twelve months, the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as economic concerns and social issues, have rapidly impacted the attitudes and behaviours of today’s consumer. As brands are now coming out the other side, many are grappling to find the best way to remain relevant and continue to engage their core consumers,” says Stephen Walker, Regional Director at Toluna, New Zealand.

Changed shopping preferences

After several spates of panic buying across the country, 38 percent of New Zealanders are now keeping their cupboards better stocked, with 21 percent spending more time carefully choosing the right household cleaning products.

Customer loyalty is also coming into question, with price affecting purchasing decisions and shoppers more open to trying new brands.

44 percent of Kiwis report to be more price sensitive when shopping compared with how they were pre-pandemic. A further 14 percent stated they’ve continued to keep purchasing new brands they tried due to lockdown

Supporting New Zealand made is also a growing concern, with 64 percent of shoppers trying to buy more food products from New Zealand or produced locally, compared to pre-pandemic.

The importance of brand values

Brand loyalty is no longer something brands can take for granted – consumers are now more inclined to support brands whose values align with their own. Nearly three quarters (73 percent) of respondents said they go out of their way to engage with brands who align with their values, while 40 percent said they’ve stopped supporting the ones that don’t.

Over half (52 percent) of Kiwi shoppers prioritise sustainability and environmental friendliness as a core value. This is supported by 56 percent who now actively try to buy food and drink products with less plastic packaging.

Humanitarian issues (34 percent) and supporting racial equality (29 percent) and gender equality (24 percent) are also key issues for consumers. As are more traditional brand values such as value for money (60 percent) and customer support (37 percent).

“Although ‘brand loyalty’ isn’t quite a thing of the past, what drives brand loyalty is changing. Consumers are now more inclined to support brands whose values align with their own, and stop shopping with brands that don’t. As we emerge from the pandemic and get back to business, brands will increasingly need to stand for something – to participate in culture, society and politics; to show that they are environmentally friendly or support humanitarian issues. This is why it’s critical for brands to have access to accurate, on demand consumer insights to truly understand and connect with their consumers and intelligently inform their strategic decision-making and planning,” says Walker.

Travel hesitancy

Despite the survey reporting an uptick in vaccinations, recent issues with the Trans-Tasman bubble have likely put a dampener on travel plans, with almost half the respondents (47 percent) not comfortable booking a holiday before May 2022 or beyond, despite 84 percent of respondents stating they miss travelling.

In the short term (over the next one to two months) only 13 percent of respondents would happily book an overseas trip. However domestic travel is more appealing, with almost a third (27 percent) keen to treat themselves to a holiday within New Zealand in the coming months.

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