LONDON: British consumers increasingly value close relationships with the brands they use, with supermarkets topping the list, new research has found.

An online survey by YouGov for ad agency Karmarama has found that 52% of Britons have formed a relationship with a company, 24% of them with a supermarket, 22% with a bank and 29% with a local shop.

Amongst supermarkets, Tesco came out top, being mentioned by 14% of respondents. Sainsbury's and the Co-op were each mentioned by 8% while Asda was named by 6%.

Interestingly, the study shows that most consumers both value such relationships and welcome attempts by companies to contact them, offering an important lesson for brands in how to connect with their customers.

"This reaffirms that it's a combination of factors that helps a brand build a relationship with its customers," said Mark Runacus, senior planning partner at Karmarama.

The research found that older people are more likely to build a relationship with a brand, with 29% of over-55s saying that they had done so with a supermarket, compared to only 15% of the 18-24 age group.

Karmarama also found that women were more likely to form links with brands than men, with 26% of the latter declining to form such relationships compared to 17% of women.

For those who have built up a relationship with a company, some 65% said it came about because they had visited a company either for many years or on a regular basis.

The survey found that excellent customer service was a leading factor for 49%, while 36% said dealing regularly with the same person was important, while for 33% being recognised as an individual, for example, through letters or emails, was key.

Data sourced from Karmarama; additional content by Warc staff