Business development · 6 December 2016

Why a shift in millennial brand loyalty creates opportunities for small businesses

brand_loyalty
Low product availability had the biggest impact on brand loyalty

The reputations of established brands are becoming meaningless for younger generations of consumers, as a new study reveals the high standards of millennial brand loyalty.

A survey conducted by YouGov and supply chain cloud provider GT Nexus looked at the consumer concerns of 18 to 34 year olds, finding that 55 per cent of respondents stopped shopping with one of their favourite brands in the last 12 months due to “behind-the-scenes” factors – such as unethical supply chains and unreliable delivery.

Almost a third of survey respondents claimed they would be turned off a brand if it did not treat its workers fairly.

Guy Courtin, vice president of industry and solutions strategy at GT Nexus, said that the trends send out “a very clear message” to leading brands.

“If you don’t respect the workers creating your goods – either inside your organisation or in your supply chains – we will turn on you. Same goes for the environment,” explained Courtin.

The research also revealed that product availability delivered the biggest blow to brand loyalty.

In having greater visibility over logistics – as well as close control of ethical product supply – small business owners are able to react more quickly and get ahead of corporate competitors.

Working on a smaller scale means that independent brands and retailers can deliver sales more efficiently and alert their customers of any delays personally.

“It’s alarming to see how readily millennials turn on their favourite brands if the product isn’t on the shelf or available for delivery,” Courtin added. 

A surprising statistic uncovered by the study was how little impact a strong digital presence – through social media, apps and websites – had on the brand loyalty of younger generations. Just five per cent of respondents switched brands due to a weak social media presence.

The news that younger consumers are looking past existing brand reputations supports further research that suggested customer convenience was the key to brand loyalty and online success. 

According to a recent survey by on-demand delivery platform Stuart, 79 per cent of UK consumers would stop shopping at their favourite retailer if it failed to offer their preferred delivery method.

The study also revealed a gap in the market for reaching eager shoppers. Some 96 per cent of survey respondents claimed that their favourite stores did not offer same-day delivery, suggesting that there is all to play for in securing a new wave of brand loyalists.

Commenting on the findings, Stuart’s UK general manager, David Saenz, referred to the “untapped goldmine” in offering same-day delivery and claimed that retailers who took advantage of the demand “will not only be winning the race for brand loyalty but will also reap the financial rewards that come with it.”

The arrival of social media has also demonstrated the speed at which a reputation can be damaged.

In September, Sainsbury’s supermarket made a series of cut-backs to their meal deal offerings – including the removal of Taste the Difference sandwiches – and customers were quick to take to Twitter to vent their anger. Backed into a corner, Sainsbury’s was forced to make a public statement reassuring its customers.

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Simon Caldwell is a reporter for Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and communications from the University of Liverpool, and previously worked as a content editor in the ecommerce industry.

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