Brand loyalty depends on several factors, including trust and reputation and product quality. It might be worth adding product availability to that list, according to a recent study [download page] from Jungle Scout.
The survey of almost 1,000 US adults found that the top reasons consumers are loyal to specific brands are well known: lower prices; superior quality or performance; and familiarity. However when looking at the reasons why consumers try new brands (i.e. deviate from their typical brands), product availability comes to the forefront. Indeed, a leading 41% of respondents said that they try new brands when their favorite brand becomes unavailable (e.g., out of stock, discontinued). This reason was more popular than others including the new brand being more affordable (35%), the favorite brand changing its product (28%) and the new brand having superior quality (25%).
It stands to reason, of course, that consumers would look elsewhere if they can’t find their favorite brand, although it suggests that they don’t have too much patience in the purchase process. Nevertheless, other research has similarly found that product availability is a strong factor in purchase decisions. Last year, an inriver survey revealed that close to 6 in 10 consumers surveyed were either very likely (22%) or somewhat likely (36%) to purchase a similar item if the item they wanted from a specific brand was not available online. Likewise, the majority of respondents said that if they couldn’t find an item from a specific brand online, they were very likely (21%) or somewhat likely (37%) to purchase a similar product from a different brand online.
It’s worth noting that this sentiment may differ depending on the item in question, as brand differentiation is much higher in some products than others. The report indicates that the most stable categories for brand loyalty are exercise/fitness supplies, home and kitchen, and office supplies. By contrast, the most volatile are groceries, cleaning supplies, and clothing. To illustrate such differences, the study highlights that one-third of consumers tried a new brand in the grocery category last year, while only 6% shopped a new brand for toys and games.
Overall, though, the survey suggests that brand loyalty is not so strong for e-commerce shoppers. Just 1 in 5 said they always look for specific brands when shopping online, outweighed by the 28% who said they never do. About one-third say it depends on the product, while fewer than one-fifth say they might look for specific brands if they’re more affordable.
These factors may also be influenced by where shoppers start their searches. Considering that more do so on Amazon (63%) than any other channel, it makes some sense – with Amazon’s wide variety of options – that shoppers might try a substitute brand if their favorite one is unavailable.
About the Data: The results are based on a February 2022 survey of 950 US adults (18+).