Supermarket loyalty high but is it more habit than attachment?

Posted by Isobel Drake on 30th March 2009

Supermarkets remain on top when it comes to customer loyalty, according to new research from the UK.

The survey found supermarkets were rated most highly (72%) with consumers when asked which sectors they felt most loyal to.

Perhaps surprisingly, banks remain on a par with supermarkets, attracting the same degree of loyalty.

The study, carried out by researchers Ipsos MORI on behalf of The Logic Group, suggested loyalty to supermarkets and banks “may suggest that for many people loyalty today is still more about habit than a deeper attachment.”

“The traditional models of engendering loyalty are changing with the economic climate; even in sectors where the barriers to switching brands are significant. As consumers we are very clear on the need for organisations to deliver on promises, customer service and recognising us as individuals,” Antony Jones, CEO of The Logic Group, said. “As the recession bites, it is evident that businesses have a very clear brief: focus on improving the customer experience and building loyalty through schemes that deliver rewards that are actually valued by customers.”

In the retail sector, only 24% said they were “very satisfied” with loyalty schemes, highlighting the potential to further engage with shoppers.

“In a business environment where the focus has shifted sharply onto the retention of customers, it is striking that so many of us don’t feel part of loyalty schemes,” Simon Atkinson, MD of Loyalty at Ipsos Mori, noted. “And those of us that are members of loyalty schemes don’t necessarily value them. Current programmes urgently need to be reviewed and refocused if businesses are to successfully create true loyalty amongst today’s consumers.”

Good customer service (34%) remains the leading driver in encouraging people to spend more in the shopping and retail sector, followed by rewards that were relevant to the individual (30%). Rewards that provide discounts were important to 25% of consumers.

In contrast, poor customer service (44%) was the feature most likely to put people off from increasing their spend as members of loyalty programmes, as were unachievable rewards (28%), unrealistic points expiry deadlines (20%) or too much communication (18%).