What price brand loyalty?

In the wake of Marmitegate, are consumers really prepared to pay more for their favourite brands? And, if so, how much more?

About two in three loyal consumers would be prepared to pay up to ten per cent more for their favourite branded products but 51 per cent of British women and 45 per cent of British men would pick an alternative if one was available, according to a new survey. The survey by Opinion Matters, conducted exclusively for CorpComms Magazine, also revealed that brand loyalty varies according to product, region and age. The top three products that British consumers would be willing to pay an increased price for are:

HEINZ TOMATO KETCHUP (49 per cent)
BISTO (45 per cent)

FAIRY (45 per cent)

But 48 per cent of ketchup lovers would buy an alternative if Heinz hiked its price, as would 49 per cent of gravy aficionados and one in two consumers facing a pile of washing up. Opinion Matters polled more than 2,000 consumers across the country on their loyalty towards 19 popular products, ranging from Unilever’s Marmite, Hellmann’s Mayonnaise, Surf, Persil, PG Tips and Ben & Jerry’s, to Procter & Gamble’s Fairy Liquid, Heinz Tomato Ketchup and Aunt Bessie’s Yorkshire Puddings.

Consumers in Northern Ireland appear more willing to accept price rises for their favourite branded products than their contemporaries in London, for example. But consumers in Wales are the most likely to seek an alternative, followed by shoppers in the North East.

Four in five shoppers aged 45 or over who are wedded to their favourite brands, will accept price rises of up to ten per cent, although their appetite declines fairly rapidly after that, unlike consumers aged between 16 and24 years old who still display a form of brand loyalty, even when prices rise up to 20 per cent.

But it is Premier Foods’ Bisto that proved most price inelastic. The gravy product, which dates back to 1908 and is so called because it ‘browns, seasons and thickens in one’, registered strong brand loyalty across all age groups and regions. More than three in four consumers (76.4 per cent) said they were prepared to accept a ten per cent price rise, while an extra 11.2 per cent would not be deterred by a further hike up to 20 per cent.

Nine in ten consumers aged over 55 would accept a ten per cent price rise without demurring, while across the country such equanimity ranges from 69.4 per cent in the Midlands to 84.8 per cent in Northern Ireland.

It seems labour saving food items are particularly popular. Almost three in four (73.5 per cent) of consumers would accept a ten per cent price rise for Hellmann’s Mayonnaise, including 89 per cent of Northern Ireland-based shoppers.

Hull-based Aunt Bessie’s, which produces more than 20 million Yorkshire puddings a week, has a loyal customer base. Even though more than one third (35 per cent) of British adults aged between 25 and 34 would not be prepared to buy Aunt Bessie’s if the price rose, seven in ten (71.2 per cent) loyal consumers would accept a ten per cent price rise, while one per cent would even accept a doubling in price.

In general, customers aged 16 to 24 – the so-called Generation Z – appear less brand loyal than other age groups. On average, three in ten said they would not buy a product if its price rose, and between 43 per cent and 53 per cent would actively seek an alternative. In general, fewer than half demonstrated a willingness to accept price increases of up to ten per cent, with a few notable exceptions, such as Fairy Liquid (52.6 per cent) and Bisto (54.6 per cent). But this age group also appears most willing to accept additional rises up to 20 per cent.

While the University of Stirling recently found evidence of the Lynx effect, claiming men who are perceived low in masculinity can boost their manliness by applying deodorant, consumers might take some convincing. Just one in four consumers would buy Lynx after a price hike.