These days, consumers always have options. Regardless of the industry, there is almost always a plethora of big name brands fighting for the attention of the same customer. In a competitive market, building and maintaining brand loyalty is an essential part of being a successful business. But who is the most brand loyal? And does brand loyalty hold up during a pandemic? 

In January 2020, before the coronavirus pandemic became prevalent in the U.S., CivicScience surveyed more than 32,000 U.S. adults about their brand loyalty. As the data show, 88% of respondents were at least somewhat brand loyal, with one-third (32%) considering themselves “very loyal” consumers.

January 2020 brand loyalty

The last time CivicScience looked at brand loyalty (December 2017) the overall percentage of loyal consumers was at 82% of U.S. adults. Since then, yearly data indicates a general rise in brand loyalty through the beginning of 2020 (before the pandemic).

The largest demographic of brand-loyal customers were between 35 and 54 years old. However, 18-24-year-olds came in as a close second. While the overall level of brand loyalty between men and women was nearly even, women tended to be slightly more loyal–with 33% considering themselves “very loyal,” as opposed to 30% of men who said the same. 

Unsurprisingly, those who are brand loyal are significantly more likely to tell their family and friends about the products they love. This means free word-of-mouth marketing for brands who can continue to satisfy and retain their customers. And it goes without saying for many companies that, at a time like this, saving on ad spend could be a relief. 

An added bonus is that when these loyal consumers trust a brand, they are more willing than others to sacrifice on price.

Brand Loyalty Amid a Global Crisis

This is all well and good under normal circumstances, but what happens during a pandemic? In February, March, and April, as the coronavirus spread across the nation, overall brand loyalty hardly saw any change at all. According to May data as of May 20, consumers have stayed true to the brands they love (86%), despite lockdowns and a disturbance to the usual supply and demand.

In a similar vein, brand loyalty may actually impact how soon consumers are ready to return to shopping in stores. The most loyal are leading the way with their readiness to get back to resuming their in-person shopping. 

And online shopping is another retail experience that varies by loyalty. Those who are at least somewhat loyal say that they are shopping online more due to the pandemic, while those who are not loyal at all are shopping online either the same amount or less

Across the U.S., brand loyalty is alive and well, with loyal consumers prioritizing, praising, and purchasing their favorite brands at an extremely high rate. In addition, CivicScience tracking shows a year-over-year rise in loyalty overall. It’s impossible to predict where we will be in the next few months (in terms of lockdowns and the ratio of supply to demand), but what we can see is that consumers aren’t quite willing to give when it comes to buying the brand name they want. The data does show a slight decrease in “very loyal” respondents in the beginning of May, but considering loyal brand buyers are more okay sacrificing price and fairly comfortable turning to online shopping, things look pretty stable for now.

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