MUMBAI: Some 79% of Indian consumers would "cheat" on their favourite retail brands, according to a global loyalty report that found devotion to be a key element of how passionate, committed and intimate consumers feel about a retailer.

ICLP, a loyalty marketing agency, studied a number of global markets to establish what retailers can do to improve customer loyalty during the holiday season and beyond.

For the Indian segment of its report, ICLP revealed that just 21% of Indian consumers feel devoted to their preferred retail brands, the Economic Times reported.

The study, which was conducted in partnership with Professor Ron Rogge of the University of Rochester in the US, identified devotion as key to growing high-value, enduring relationships between consumers and brands.

Indian consumers – along with their counterparts elsewhere – were asked to rate their experiences according to seven core relationship criteria. These covered recognition, rewards, reciprocity, reliability, respect, trust and communication.

The study also focused on three key components of a relationship – intimacy (willingness to share information with a retailer), passion (brand enthusiasm) and commitment (loyalty).

And it went on to categorise six types of relationships, ranging from "empty", the least desirable from a brand perspective, through to "devoted".

Of particular note for marketers, ICLP revealed that 97% of devoted customers would recommend a retailer to others, while just a third (34%) of those defined as being in a "casual" relationship would do likewise.

Overall, about three-quarters (76%) of Indian consumers reported that they would buy more from a retailer if they received better rewards, such as via a loyalty programme.

A similar proportion (78%) would buy more if retailers improved their use of data to better understand individual customer needs, 74% said they would buy more if brands communicated with them better, and 65% would do the same if they had more trust in brands.

"Brands today are finding it difficult to bond with their customers; spoilt for choice means consumers are increasingly distracted," said Anurag Saxena, Country Head of ICLP India.

"Our research shows that what consumers need from a brand in order to build an emotional connection is very similar to what they require from relationships with friends and loved ones. That is, good communication, reliability, consistency, reward and recognition."

Data sourced from Economic Times; additional content by Warc staff