Brand loyalists, brand evangelists or however you may want to define them, are amongst the most precious people in any brand owner’s life.

We count their numbers, keep a hawk’s eye on the progress of that number and do everything possible to increase that number and protect it. It is not just a day job, it is a mission.

An arduous mission for sure and the emerging retail scenario is making it even harder. Grey and G2’s Eye on Asia – Retail study reveals that two-thirds of Asian shoppers would rather leave the planning of what categories they want to after entering the store. Even amongst shoppers who have a list in mind before entering stores, 48% have either no brand or more than one brand in mind.

It seems a little obvious in hindsight. Of course, they are enchanted by the choice and the promise of new things that the retail space offers. No one trip is like the other and there is much to explore and discover. The loyalist is turning into a discoverer.

Here is the proof. Up to 47% of Asian shoppers have “snacks” on their list even before entering stores but what they buy depends on what takes their fancy.

At least in our world, an endangered species is not cause for gloom, unlike the real world. It is much cause for joy because strengthening that tally just became one step easier. All it needs is specific and strategic channel strategies.

For example, for markets like Japan and Korea where 67% of a hypermarket/supermarket shopper’s category planning is done after entering the store, the role of communications across a shopper’s Purchase Decision Journey – from invoking a category to brand selection – will need to work harder. However, for markets like India, where 79% of the category planning happens before entering the hypermarket/supermarket, the communications have to focus more on creating brand preferences or encouraging switches in-store.

The dynamics change for channels, countries and categories. It could be anything from making the consumer feel smart by making a more value-driven choice to engaging her by creating novelty. The defining tally only depends on whether we understand and offer what this new loyalist-turned-discoverer is seeking.

Contributed by: Shweta Khosla, Regional Planning Director, Grey Hong Kong