LONDON: Large retailers in the UK have been advised they can no longer assume their customers will remain loyal to their brand after new research revealed nearly three-quarters (70%) of UK shoppers have changed their behaviour.

Based on the recent habits of 1,100 UK shoppers, research agency Shoppercentric found this total included 38% who said they shopped in a wider variety of physical and online stores and 20% who shopped more frequently than they used to.

Although supermarkets continued to be the most dominant channel (89%), Shoppercentric said the country's top four supermarkets – Tesco, Sainsbury's, Asda and Morrisons – should be alarmed that one-in-ten did not visit a supermarket at all.

The importance of discounting and convenience also emerged in the study with two-thirds (67%) reporting they visited a discounter in the last month while half (52%) used a convenience store. Almost a third (29%) also shopped online.

And in a further sign that consumer loyalty is changing, the research found that even if shoppers identify with particular retailers, that doesn't mean they shop exclusively with that brand.

For example, self-identifying Waitrose shoppers used the highest number of stores (6.2) in the past month, followed by Asda shoppers (5.8), Tesco (5.5), Morrisons (5.3), Sainsbury's (5.2), Aldi (4.9) and Co-op (4.4).

Almost half (45%) thought different stores have different strengths and strongly disagreed with the statement that one store is very much like another.

A third (34%) said they visit different stores to buy different products because no one store has the best of everything – and this figure increased to 55% of those whose shopping habits had expanded.

Shoppercentric went on to identify proximity, price, pleasure and passion to be the key drivers underpinning these changes to shopping behaviour.

Over half (54%) of UK shoppers said they shopped locally in order to save time while 62% of those who shopped online for groceries cited time-saving as a key driver.

Almost a third (29%) were driven by price and used other stores if offered vouchers, 23% found it more pleasurable and interesting to shop in a variety of stores, while over half (51%) had "passion", or taking pride in providing for the household.

Danielle Pinnington, managing director of Shoppercentric, advised retailers and brands to focus more on shoppers' emotional needs around passion and pleasure.

"These are more likely to hold the key to unlocking the long-standing shopper loyalty that is becoming more and more elusive," she said.

Data sourced from Shoppercentric; additional content by Warc staff