Characteristics of Retail Loyalty in 2019: A Look at the Most Loyal of the Loyal

By October 22, 2019 CCG Retail Marketing Blog

Understanding what drives these “Loyalists” to engage with a brand is crucial to gaining retail success.

By Sandra Gudat, President/CEO

Characteristics of Retail Loyalty

Article Highlights

  • Loyalists — the most loyal consumers — make up 37% of shoppers.
  • 40% of Loyalists are Uber-Loyalists who always shop the same retailer for particular needs.
  • Passion, or emotional, factors primarily drive Loyalists to stay engaged with a brand.
  • Walmart, Amazon and Target attract more Loyalists and Uber-Loyalists than other retailers.
  • Loyalty personalities change and evolve through consumer life stages.

In today’s environment of hyper consumer choice and access, it’s crucial for retailers to understand the factors that build brand loyalty and drive engagement among their most loyal customers. Here, I’ll share insights and statistics about these “Loyalists” — pulled from the annual Retail Customer Loyalty Study conducted by customer.com (a division of Customer Communications Group, Inc.).

First, a Refresher

In case you missed our earlier reports from the Retail Loyalty Study, here’s a little refresher.

First, the study showed that retail loyalty has improved in 2019, with more customers than ever — 37% — reporting that they prefer to consistently shop with the same retailer rather than shop around. That’s up from 35% in 2018.

In 2019, consumers remained divided into the three shopping personalities identified in our initial, groundbreaking study from 2018. In addition to Loyalists, these shopper types are “Roamers” — who typically shop around before making a purchase — and Neutrals, who have some go-to retailers for particular purchases, but also shop around. We also discovered Uber-Loyalists as a subset of Loyalists, comprising 40% of that group. Uber-Loyalists report that they always shop the same retailer for particular shopping needs.

Loyal Customers Profiled

One of the most interesting findings is that the demographic composition of Loyalists changes over time. This suggests that a customer’s “loyalty personality” changes and evolves as they progress through different life stages.

Consumers aged 18 to 25 are at a peak of loyalty that begins to decline when they hit their late 20s and early 30s. Brand loyalty steadily climbs again as consumers approach their 50s and continues to rise until it peaks again between ages 55 and 65, just before typical retirement years.

We found that Loyalists come from all walks of life and exhibit a myriad of demographic characteristics. However, some interesting attributes stand out. For instance, the majority of Loyalists (54%) are men. Uber-Loyalists report many of the same loyalty characteristics as Loyalists, but show a few unique and intriguing differences, as well, which we’ll delve into as we go along.

Other interesting brand loyalty statistics from the study include:

  • Households without children at home are more likely to be Loyalists, in particular Uber-Loyalists.
  • 52% of Hispanics are Loyalists, the largest percentage compared to other ethnic groups. And Hispanics are almost twice as likely as other ethnic groups to be Uber-Loyalists.
  • Consumers from the South and West were most likely to be Uber-Loyalists. Somewhat surprisingly, Midwesterners skewed toward the Roamer shopping personality.
  • In general, the lower the annual income of a household, the more those consumers are likely to be Loyalists. As household income increases, consumers fall more into the Neutral category. As household incomes exceed $125,000, consumers are far less likely to be Loyalists, especially Uber-Loyalists.

Characteristics of Loyalists & Uber-Loyalists

Characteristic

LoyalistsUber-Loyalists
Average Age45.2 years old43.7 years old
Gender54% Male
44% Female
57% Male
43% Female
Primary EthnicityHispanicAfrican American
Hispanic
Asian
Income$63,463$63,855
RegionWestSouth
West

What makes Loyalists loyal customers?

One of the most surprising findings from our study was the difference between Loyalists and the less loyal shopping personality types. For instance, Loyalists are largely driven by the multi-faceted Passion Dynamic, which focuses on emotion-centric factors. The other two shopper personality types, Neutrals and Roamers, were more likely to prefer more pragmatic, or practical factors, such as ease of shopping.

Loyalists showed a high preference for multiple intangible factors, such as fair treatment and trust. They were also drawn by feelings that shopping at a particular retailer was a status symbol and that the retailer had a caring staff. (Which isn’t to say they don’t also value a streamlined shopping experience. It simply wasn’t as high a priority.)

Uber-Loyalists ranked all of the Passion Dynamic factors extremely high. For instance, they were twice as likely to rank caring staff as their number one factor. But Uber-Loyalists also listed more practical factors, such as unique products and informative website as important drivers of their loyalty. And they were two and a half times as likely to rank VIP benefits and experiences as their number one factor.

Loyalists again pointed to the Passion Dynamic factors when asked about “tie-breaking” factors that would induce them to select one retailer over another when price, products and access are identical. Uber-Loyalists also identified these factors and were more likely to list feeling the retailer was socially responsible or offered status as a tie-breaker. But Ubers also included practical factors, such as an informative website and the ability to look up past purchases, as important tie-breakers.

The Retailers Loyalists Love

The Retail Customer Loyalty Study uncovered brand loyalty based on consumer input related to more than 500 retailers. Respondents were asked to list the retailer they were most likely to exclusively shop for particular needs.

We found that some retailers attract more Loyalists than others. For instance, 34% of Amazon customers, 38% of Walmart customers and 41% of Target customers define themselves as Loyalists. Meanwhile, all three retailers have an identical percentage of customers (15%) who identify as Uber-Loyalists.

RankLoyalistsUber-Loyalists
1Walmart logoWalmart logo
2Amazon logoAmazon logo
3Target logoTarget logo
4Kohl's logoEbay logo
5Kroger logoSam's Club logo
6Ebay logoMacy's logo
7Macy's logoKroger logo
8Sam's Club logoJC Penny logo
9Costco logoKohl's logo
10JC Penny logoCostco logo

The Bottom Line

With brand loyalty statistics showing that 37% of customers prefer to shop at the same retailers, loyalty certainly is not dead. These Loyalists and Uber-Loyalists represent the most loyal of the loyal — and often represent the majority of a retailer’s sales. Understanding the loyalty characteristics that make them tick — and make them stick with a particular retailer — and then delivering on those expectations is absolutely crucial for any retailer wanting maximize sales success.

Realize, though, that this isn’t a one-department endeavor. Leveraging the factors that build customer loyalty and drive engagement among your most loyal customers requires enterprise-wide support from all aspects of the business — from customer-facing personnel and technologies to the back-office people and processes that support them. Pull it all together, and you lay the foundation for profitable and loyal customer relationships.

Are you ready to leverage the characteristics of loyalty to build more profitable customer relationships? Our customer engagement agency is here to help, with more than 40 years of experience focused on that exact mission. Learn more about our retail marketing services. Then call 303.986.3000 or click below to talk with one of our retail marketing consultants.

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