Consumers on auto-pilot and buy out of habit: Survey
Brand loyalty is mainly driven by habit, according to a study by consumer insight group BrandHook.
The study surveyed 1,000 respondents and found the daily habits of 46% of consumers drive their shopping choices.
"Our behaviour is ritualistic and repetition is central to everyday life," the study found.
It found consumers are not making conscious decisions about purchasing when habit is driving behaviour.
BrandHook recommends targeting consumers at times when they are vulnerable and open to change, such as when they move house, get married, have a baby or form a new relationship.
This is the time that consumers are open to forming new habits which they will then stick with.
The study found mothers in particular create a lot of habits to get by in life and are very brand loyal, with 65% of mothers agreeing that when they find a brand or product they like, they are loyal to it.
But Michel Hogan, independent brand advocate with Brandology, told SmartCompany she "fundamentally disagrees" that people are loyal to brands out of habit rather than any real rational reason.
"I always take these surveys with a grain of salt, I don't consider inertia as loyalty," she says.
"I will go out of my way to find a product that I like to use and I want to be part of: that is not inertia, that is really valuing what that product is giving me and that is the basis of brand loyalty."
Hogan is also dismissive of BrandHook's advice to target marketing at certain stages of life.
"Quite often that marketing that targets a time of people's life doesn't have that much to do with brand, it is just a marketing strategy, it is marketers trying to key into something that is going on anyway," she says.
"Marketing is the conduit for how that stuff is communicated but that is not changing the promises that they are making, or changing the things the organisation is doing, which is what drives brand loyalty."
Hogan's tip for small businesses that want to generate brand loyalty are simple.
"Figure out what you can do, communicate that to your customers and then do it; that is the basis of loyalty," she says.
"What you do to drive loyalty depends on what sort of business you are, there is no set guideline for you."