The Nielsen Global Survey of Loyalty Sentiment survey polled more than 29,000 internet respondents in 58 countries to evaluate consumer views on loyalty levels across 16 categories. It found that that most respondents were neither completely loyal or completely fickle, and were unlikely to switch brands or providers without a significant incentive.
Nielsen said that while bigger rewards could inspire higher loyalty levels, loyalty programs were no guarantee of loyal behaviours.
Price was the single most important reason to switch brands in every region but especially so for North American and European consumers, with 61% and 54% respectively citing this compared to the global average of 41%.
In contrast, consumers in these two regions placed less weight on quality, with just 20% of those in North America and 22% of those in Europe mentioning this attribute against a worldwide figure of 26%.
Consumers in the Middle East and Africa and in Asia-Pacific struck a more even balance between price and quality. In the former, the figures were 26% and 33% respectively, while the equivalents for the latter were 28% and 29%.
Service was more important to consumers in Asia-Pacific (19%) and Latin America (18%) than anywhere else, while few North Americans (8%) were prepared to switch brands on this basis alone.
Julie Currie, senior vice president Global Loyalty, Nielsen, said there was a strong link between the way consumers described their loyalty habits and the way they subsequently bought, "so even comparatively small shifts in what consumers say can manifest in big changes in what they do".
She also observed that the greatest likelihood to switch was evident in consumable products and the online retailing space.
The report suggested a direct link between the frequency of purchase and the level of loyalty to that category. Thus the lowest levels of loyalty on a global scale were found within the food and beverage categories reviewed.
The levels of respondents saying they were not loyal and likely to switch alcoholic beverages was 43%, followed by snack brands (39%), carbonated beverages (38%) and cereal brands (37%).
But 24% of respondents around the world said they were completely loyal to their mobile phone brand/service provider and financial institution, the highest loyalty percentage for any of the 16 categories measured.
Data sourced from Nielsen; additional content by Warc staff