How US Consumers Define Brand Loyalty – and What Drives It

September 9, 2014

Epsilon-Consumer-Actions-That-Define-Loyalty-Sept2014The majority of American adults are loyal to 5 or fewer brands, with their loyalty most often placed with financial service providers and grocery retailers, finds a study conducted by Epsilon and Wylei Research and shared with MarketingCharts. Consumers surveyed for the report were most likely to define brand loyalty as shopping on the basis of quality rather than price; as a result, a company’s consistency in offering quality products and services emerges as a key loyalty driver.

Presented with a series of customer experiences with a fictitious company and asked which best represents customer loyalty, respondents were most likely to agree with the following:

  • A customer that shops at “Company X” for the quality of the product even though they are more expensive (51%; top-5 box on a 10-point scale);
  • A customer that tells family/friends to go to “Company X” (41%); and
  • A customer that forgives a mistake made by “Company X” and continues shopping there (40%).

Notably, respondents were less likely to define loyalty on the basis of liking or sharing brand content on social media.

Not surprisingly, when asked how important various conditions are in influencing the loyalty actions outlined above, respondents first pointed to a brand/company having consistently good quality products and services (55%, top-5 box), followed by the brand/company offering the best value for the money (51%). Interestingly, fewer respondents believed that rewards programs (33%), positive first experiences (28%), and new services and products tailored to their needs and lifestyles (21%) would drive loyal behavior.


While positive first experiences don’t rank as highly as a loyalty driver, separate results from the survey indicate that they do have an effect. Indeed, two-thirds of respondents reported being extremely (15%) or very (52%) likely to continue purchasing products with a brand after purchasing a product they like from it. Previously-release research from ClickFox has also found that consumers believe that brand loyalty is shaped from the first impression.

Meanwhile, the over-arching focus on quality as a loyalty driver is interesting in light of new survey results from Duke University’s CMO Survey, in which US CMOs were found to believe that customers prioritize superior product quality and excellent service over low prices. For those CMOs, brand is at the bottom of the list of consumers’ priorities.

According to the Epsilon study, most consumers will buy a product that is the best value for the price paid, regardless of the brand. At the same time, roughly half will seek out their preferred brand elsewhere if it’s temporarily unavailable, rather than buy a similar product.

About the Data: The survey was conducted among Research Now’s US panel of participants and includes respondents who are 18-64 years old and do not work in any of the following companies:

  • Market research;
  • Advertising, public relations, or marketing;
  • Television, radio, or newspaper publishing;
  • Any company that offers reward points or miles.

The sample is representative of gender, age and region distributions in the country. Quotas were put in place to obtain 1,000 US respondents. The survey was in field from 1/20/14-1/31/14. The sampling error for a sample size of 1,000 is +/- 3.1% at a 95% confidence level.

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