Why are they more loyal to national brands?

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By: Wise Marketer Staff |

Posted on June 20, 2002

American consumers are extremely loyal to national brands of food, beverages and consumer products, with 49% saying that a familiar brand name was the first or second most important element when making a purchase in the supermarket, according to a survey from Grocery Manufacturers of America (GMA).

A new survey showed that 76% of Americans in all demographic groups consider a product's brand before making a final product selection. An impressive 67% of respondents said they would "chase the brand" to a different store if it wasn't available, or that they would do without it until the next shopping excursion.

The survey, which explored how national brands influence purchasing decisions among US consumers, also revealed that consumers are twice as likely to choose a brand that is of high quality but costs more (57%), than one of average quality that costs less (only 28%). Respondents were also willing to pay a higher price for "a product whose taste they enjoy" (41%) and a "product with added health and nutritional benefits" (25%).

Nostalgia plays a major role in consumers' relationships with a particular brand. In an unprompted, open-ended question, 36% of respondents indicated they currently use a particular product because their family had used it for a long time, and 15% said they continue using the brand because they used it growing up.

Key findings
"Clearly national brands have a prominent place in the hearts and lives of American consumers," said GMA vice president of marketing and communications, Gene Grabowski. "While loyalty to national brands isn't blind, consumers are consistently defining value by choosing the quality, innovation and consistency that national brands deliver." The survey also found that:

  • Consumers believe national brand manufacturers are innovators: Most respondents (84%) said that store brands copy national brands' products, with 60% saying that store brands look like national brands and only 37% saying that store brands develop new products on their own.
  • Research and new product development is widely recognised by consumers: Most respondents (90%) also say that "it is important for national brands to conduct product testing and research to create new products." And nearly 60% say they are willing to pay more for a national brand product so the company can continue to develop new products.
  • Cost counts: Most respondents (82%) frequently consider the price of a product before making a final decision. More than half (55%) say that an in-store product sale or coupon is most or second most important in making a specific purchase, including 50% of those with household earnings of US$90,000 or more.
  • Peer recommendations influence brand purchases: Against factors such as cost, familiar brand name, a sale, and convenience, 13% chose "a recommendation from someone I trust" as the first or second most important factor in purchasing a product, with 12% saying that the reason they first started using a brand that currently has their loyalty is because of a peer recommendation.

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