Brand loyalty has largely proved robust over the last decade in a trio of packaged-goods categories, according to the early results of a study being conducted by the Advertising Research Foundation (ARF), the industry body.

Paul Donato, chief research officer at the ARF, pointed to a common perception that “direct brands are stealing share from the incumbents” in most categories during a presentation at the trade group’s online SHOPPERxSCIENCE event. (For more, read WARC’s in-depth report: Is brand loyalty in decline? Trends in packaged goods offer hope to traditional brands.)

To gain further clarity on this topic, the ARF drew on weekly sales data – as provided by research and analytics firm IRI – that covered the period from 2010 to 2019.

More specifically, the analysis focused on three categories in the packaged goods sector, in the form of salty snacks, pasta sauce and deodorants – a group chosen because of the varying length of purchase cycles in each sector.

Looking at the market share of the top 30 brands in each category, Donato noted there had been a slight decline in salty snacks and pasta sauce, but an increase on this measure for deodorant.

The average number of unique brands purchased by a given household had also essentially remained static across these categories from 2010 to 2019.

And that sort of trend, Donato reported, would not suggest “dramatic changes in brand loyalty”, even as the range of products available to consumers grows.

Elsewhere, the analysis looked at consecutive purchases – defined as whether shoppers pick the same brand in an unbroken chain each time they make a category purchase.

“That doesn’t mean they didn’t purchase brand day again and again. They may have done,” said Donato. “They’re just not repeating their purchase consecutively.”

Once again, he noted, the trends were largely flat for pasta sauce and deodorant, while there had been an increase in favour of brand loyalty when discussing pasta sauces.

Based on the evidence presented by salty snacks, pasta sauce and deodorant, Donato suggested, there is “no clear evidence of loyalty decline”, even as exact trends differ in the separate categories.

“Now, this does not mean that there is not a decline in brand loyalty” in other areas, he conceded, not least because certain categories – say, apparel – could be more vulnerable to the rise of digital commerce than packaged goods.

“Overall,” he added, “there’s a lot more to do, especially with respect to studying brands 100 to 1000, I think there’s something like several thousand salty snack brands that are in the database.”

Sourced from WARC