Pro Tip: Consumers often ask the question, “What’s in it for me?” For a consumer in the driver's seat of their own consumption, retailers are often on the back foot in trying to help shoppers derive value from those purchases and spur repeat demand. Loyalty plays are more important than ever, while it’s also important for retailers to lean into their specialty, whether it be a category, level of service or experience. (Click here to jump to the full RL Pro Analyst Take below.)
Nothing in the 21st century remains static for long, but this year the loyalty drivers in 91% of the 110 categories tracked (a total of 987 brands) in Brand Keys’ "Customer Loyalty Engagement Index" have fundamentally changed. The research firm tracked dramatic changes in how customers view their ideal brand, how they compare offerings in the category and, ultimately, how they will buy and remain loyal during the next 18 to 24 months.
Leading retailers by category in the "2023 Customer Loyalty Engagement Index" include:
- Natural Food Stores: Trader Joe’s
- Online Retailers: Amazon
- Online Shoes: Zappos
- Pharmacies: CVS
- Price Clubs: Costco
- Retail (Apparel): Levi Strauss
- Retail (Department Store): T.J. Maxx
- Retail (Discount): Walmart
- Retail (Home Improvement): Home Depot
- Retail (Sporting Goods): Dick’s Sporting Goods
So what happened to consumers’ loyalty? Two and a half years after the COVID-19 pandemic upended life, the marketplace is normalizing. Still, the characterization “normalized” now takes into account extraordinarily complex levels of social and consumer advocacy, combative political tribalism and economic headwinds — all of which explain consumers’ new views of product categories and brands amid frighteningly higher expectations.