It is no surprise that a significant number of consumers intend to cut back on their spending during these uncertain times, but the question is whose custom will they retain? New research suggests trusted and established brands stand to gain.

Survata, a research firm based in San Francisco, recently polled 1,016 US adults on their shopping behaviour and brand expectations and found a strong preference for established brands over private or generic labels in a range of product categories.

As revealed by Search Engine Land, which first reported the Survata findings, the survey established that consumers appear much more likely to choose familiar brands in the categories of cleaning products, frozen food, coffee, soda and packaged goods.

However, a higher proportion of consumers also said they were are opting for generic or private label brands in the non-prescription medicine and personal care categories – most likely to save money.

The Survata research also explored consumer expectations of brands and what messages they wanted to hear and found the communication that cut through involved commitments to product availability (36%), a brand’s employees (25%), product safety (24%) and controlling price/costs (14%).

Importantly, brand trust was found to be the most significant factor influencing purchase decisions for 40% of respondents, although other considerations included price as well as the source of regional products, such as whether they come from a virus-impacted area.

Finally, when asked where they’re looking forward to spending money when the lockdowns end, the survey respondents strongly favoured dining out in a restaurant, followed by travel/vacation, retail shopping, personal recreation and sporting events.

Commenting on the findings, Survata CEO Chris Kelly said: “Consumers are clearly very cognisant of a brand’s message right now. While we know consumers expect a brand to be responsive to the current times, it was surprising that so many consumers felt that the most important thing brands should communicate to them was a commitment to their employees.

“There might be a sense of American ‘in-this-together-ism’ when you unpack that, but it’ll be important for brands to measure the tricky balance of putting out the right messages.”

Sourced from Search Engine Land, Survata; additional content by WARC staff