Pandemic Realities Undermine Consumers’ Brand Loyalties

The trials and tribulations of 2020, such as job losses and supply chain disruptions, eroded consumers’ brand loyalty. A study from Omnicom Media Group found that in the U.S., consumers’ brand loyalty slipped from 65 percent in March to 49 percent in November.

Job losses stemming from the pandemic were most damaging to consumers’ brand loyalty as they looked for less expensive options. Product shortages due to logistical problems prompted others to shift to new brands.

Entering 2021, the outlook is more promising. Omnicom found that in January, 42 percent of those surveyed described the economy as “weak,” an improvement from the 64 percent who felt the same way in March 2020. For half of those surveyed, larger purchases, such as cars, homes and vacations, are planned.

What hasn’t changed among consumers is the importance of a brand aligning with their values. The survey found that 49 percent switched brands to make a statement in response to a brand’s behavior on social justice issues, and 17 percent said they stopped supporting brands based on brand behavior. Twenty-five percent adopted a new brand because of its stance on social issues.

How people consume media has also shifted during the pandemic. With so many at home more frequently, 61 percent of respondents said in the spring they spend more time with streaming video. That share peaked at 66 percent during the summer, before returning to 61 percent in the fall. Social media usage and online browsing also peaked in the summer. Podcasts are another beneficiary of consumers’ new COVID-inspired habits. The survey found that in the spring, 26 percent of respondents said they listened to podcasts, a trend that rose to 33 percent by summer.

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