Its Brand Keys Customer Loyalty Engagement Index, which surveyed 26,000 consumers, showed that expectations of a brand being good value, as opposed to simply low price, were up by 20 percent on the previous year.
“There is a price-value formula consumers use to calculate brand differences and to decide which brands to buy. Shopper consciousness has shifted from just trying to ferret out deals to looking for brands that provide value,” Brand Keys president Robert Passikoff was reported as saying.
Aspects of value
The concept of value embraces other attributes as well as cost, especially perception of superior quality. Brandweek said that even more expensive products can retain customer loyalty during a recession as long as they are considered to represent value for money.
Other highly-rated factors included products being available in a range of sizes, so consumers could choose the one that best fits their needs and their budget, and perception of a product having a superior flavor.
The survey found that consumers are most likely to remain loyal to coffee, beer, pizza, fast food and soft drink brands.
This latest survey adds weight to a report released early last month by The Hartman Group, which also concluded that high quality would stay top of the consumer agenda. The report concluded that consumers will continue to focus on fresh, local, quality products even if they are feeling the economic pinch.
“Despite the prevailing economic uncertainty…there is little reason to believe these three trends are at odds with any renewed consumer interest in ‘value’,” it said.
In addition, even the current surge of interest in private label products has been driven by quality, rather than price alone, according to a recent study by The Nielsen Company.
It found that that 63 percent of consumers consider the quality of private label brands to be as high as name brand products, and 33 percent said they were better quality.
Senior vice president of Nielsen’s Consumer & Shopper Insights Todd Hale said: “While private label products continue to follow the success of consumer packaged goods (CPG) manufacturers’ name brand introductions, more CPG retailers are making private label a priority with messages on quality as strong as messages on value.”
Private label products account for more than $81bn in the US, up 10.2 percent over the past year, with health and wellness claims including no trans fats, no saturated fats, multi-grains and antioxidants among the strongest-growing categories.
In the 2001-2003 recession, private label’s unit market share climbed from 20 percent to 21.8 percent, according to the Private Label Manufacturers Association. And in the 1990-1991 recession, unit share for retailer brands moved up from 17.6 percent to 20 percent.