Amid the coronavirus pandemic, many brick-and-mortar retailers have temporarily or permanently closed their doors, while the shopping habits and sentiments of many American consumers have changed.
Still, in a recent survey, discount coupon provider Savings.com found that an overwhelming 97% majority of American consumers reported having brand loyalties in 2021 — up from just about 90% in 2019.
But with the COVID-19 outbreak shifting consumers toward internet shopping, the survey also found that online access to products and overall user experience has become exponentially more important.
Loyalty programs may help retailers struggling amid pandemic
Although consumer loyalty to brands has grown since 2019, some brand categories hold more sway over shoppers than others. The top three segments for loyalty, according to Savings.com, were:
- Food and beverage (62%)
- Fashion and apparel (57%)
- Personal electronics (44%)
Meanwhile, the bottom three categories were:
- Music and video (31%)
- Home and garden (27%)
- Home improvement (25%)
For businesses that are struggling to make ends meet during the pandemic, implementing new customer loyalty programs may prove crucial in building brand loyalty and financial success.
This finding is in line with a survey by market research firm IRI, which found that 51% of consumers polled saw loyalty programs as being "somewhat influential" in deciding where to shop, while another 22% found them "extremely influential."
And with many customers unlikely to return to stores in person anytime soon, a focus on creating and maintaining brand loyalty among online shoppers may continue to be essential for retailers in the near term.
Lack of an online platform, poor user experience hit brands hard
Savings.com also found that consumers stopped shopping at one or more of their favorite stores over the past year because:
- The store closed (46%)
- They could no longer afford it (40%)
- There was no online storefront (31%)
- The store’s online user experience was poor (27%)
Although closures and pricing topped the list, a poor or absent online shopping experience also proved to be a major factor among those dropping one or more of their go-to retailers.
On the flip side, a top-notch online retail environment can be a huge asset. Consider another recent survey, which found that 42% of all consumers did the majority of their shopping on Amazon, chiefly because of its fast, reliable shipping and convenient purchase process.
With the pandemic driving e-commerce sales dramatically higher — from annual growth of just under 15% in 2019 to a 44% jump in 2020 — retailers that don't offer an easy-to-use online shopping experience are probably leaving money on the table.
Methodology: Savings.com gathered data from 1,008 American consumers. Respondents averaged 40 years old, with an average income of $58,000 a year.