New research has shown that the pandemic has turned the concept of consumer loyalty on its head with Australians now more inclined to support brands that align with their personal values. 

Toluna’s ‘Understanding the 2021 Consumer’ Global Barometer Study is a regular index that taps into a community panel of more than 36 million members providing accurate and timely information on the world’s current perceptions.

The latest research surveyed 1,045 respondents in Australia between 21-25 May 2021 and revealed that brand values are now the key drivers of customer loyalty.

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. In fact, more than two thirds (69 per cent) of respondents said they go out of their way to engage with brands who align with their values, while 34 per cent said they’ve stopped supporting the ones that don’t. 

Almost half (45 per cent) of Australian shoppers prioritise sustainability and environmental friendliness as a core value. This is supported by 51 per cent who now actively try to buy food and drink products with less plastic packaging. 

Humanitarian issues (26 per cent) and supporting racial equality (25 per cent) and gender equality (23 per cent) are also key issues for consumers. As are more traditional brand values such as value for money (56 per cent) and customer support (37 per cent). 

The key findings show that the disruptions caused by the pandemic have had major impacts on every part of our lives, particularly when it comes to shopping.

After several spates of panic buying across the country, 28 per cent of Australians are now keeping their cupboards better stocked, with 17 per cent spending more time carefully choosing the right household cleaning products. 

Customer loyalty is coming into question, with price affecting purchasing decisions and shoppers more open to trying new brands. Compared to pre-pandemic, 33 per cent of Australians report to be more price sensitive when shopping; 17 per cent are more open to trying new food and drink brands now; and 13 per cent stated they have continued to keep purchasing new brands they tried due to lockdown.

Supporting Australian made is also a growing concern, with 67 per cent of shoppers trying to buy more food products from Australia or produced locally, compared to pre-pandemic. 

Sej Patel, Country Director, Toluna, Australia and New Zealand, said: “Over the last 12 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.

“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.”

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