Emotional messaging and reward schemes are all very well, but in the current UK environment, functional factors are what best drive brand loyalty and choice, according to new research, which also notes how Amazon is benefiting from these trends.

Unveiling the findings of the third edition of the DMA’s How to win trust and loyalty report, Josh McBain, director of consultancy at Foresight Factory, which carried out the research, observed “a fairly stable environment of loyalty behaviour”.

But in terms of stated feeling, he said, “more people tend to feel less loyal”. And when those people feeling less loyal asked why this was so, price ranked at the top (23%), followed by choice/competition (22%), lack of trust (17%), need to budget (16%), lack of reward (13%), decreasing quality (12%) and bad brand publicity (4%).

“What is interesting about these findings,” said McBain, “is the extent to which the main factors that were leading to a decline in loyalty were very much function-led: price, choice, quality.” (For more, read WARC’s report: Functional factors drive brand loyalty, DMA research shows.)

In fact, when expressly asked about the kind of drivers responsible for brand loyalty, 88% of respondents chose functional ones.

“There was a range of more emotional-led loyalty drivers that was more important to a significant amount of consumers – CSR, brand charisma, self-fulfilment – but functional really dominates,” said McBain.

And this was true across all categories. “There is a clear difference in what is important in each sector,” he allowed. “There’s a hierarchy of what’s important based on the sector – but nonetheless in every single sector it’s the functional drivers that always come out on top.”

The research also explored the kind of loyalty that consumers have to brands, whether habit-driven loyalty (dictated by functional-led reasons), or loyalty driven by a genuine emotional attachment to the brand.

While there was overwhelmingly positive sentiment for brands like Waitrose (96%) and John Lewis (89%), Amazon (65%) scored highly on loyalty on habit and convenience; emotional engagement by itself is not a fundamental driver of loyalty.

“Amazon can be a very different type of brand in different contexts – it’s a fluid brand, it can be different things to different people,” McBain noted.

And, he added, “the functional, convenience-led kind of loyalty is a key driver in making Amazon come on top of the list in different sectors”.

Sourced from WARC