Brand loyalty out the window as 64% of consumers switch to cheaper brands

Food and drink prices soar to their highest in 40 years, impacting consumer behaviour in the grocery sector.

Over two thirds of consumers are buying less and being stricter about what they buy from grocery shops, research by supermarket media and promotions business Shopmium finds.

More than half are ditching brands for supermarket own label food and drink, in a bid to save money during the worsening cost of living crisis.

Consumers are making big changes to the way they shop for groceries in a bid to save money as inflation causes the price of supermarket food and drink to soar to its highest level in 40 years.

Eight in 10 (77%)shoppers have already taken action to reduce their grocery spend, with a further 10% planning to cut it down imminently, according to Shopmium’s survey of 4,000 consumers.

Driving these changes are reductions in household income, with almost two thirds (63%) of people saying they have less disposable income, increasing to 67% for those on lower than average income, and nearly half (48%) saying their income has reduced more than 10%. As a result, half (49%) of UK consumers are concerned they won’t be able to provide enough meals for themselves or their family over the winter period and 63% fear they won’t be able to provide quality meals.

Brand loyalty has gone out the window

This is having a major impact on the way UK consumers are shopping. With one in seven (69%) buying less items and being stricter about what they buy, cost is becoming the primary driver in selecting one product over another. The majority of shoppers (79%) are paying more attention to promotions and discounts, with half (52%) citing having an offer for a product as the number one reason they would buy it.

Previously health or environmental concerns played into many customers’ purchase decisions but now, just 6% say their top reason to buy a product would be because it is healthier and 3% because it is environmentally friendly. Brand loyalty has also gone out the window, as two thirds (64%) say they’ve switched to cheaper brands, and more than half (58%) to supermarket own labels. Even where consumers shop is changing, with 55% switching to lower cost retailers.

“Our survey uncovered very definite changes in grocery shopping habits, as the economic crisis intensifies and consumers struggle with reductions to disposable income,” said Stuart Sankey, Head of Shopmium UK. “Now more than ever, UK shoppers need the support of brands and to feel they are helping address the dire situation many consumers have been left in.

“Ensuring price points are as low as possible and offering promotions and discounts on the items that consumers most need, such as products for creating quality lunches and dinners, or treats and snacks for a big night in, will go some way towards supporting customers in financial hardship.”

These cutbacks are also having an effect on how consumers eat and drink out of home. At work, 69% bring lunch in (an increase of 8% from 2021) and 9% skip it altogether. Less than one in 10 (9%) buy it from a supermarket and even fewer (3%) from a cafe or restaurant.

With Christmas just around the corner, it’s a time we’d expect to see bars and restaurants getting busy, but a quarter (25%) of consumers don’t plan to eat or drink out at all in the run up to Christmas, while seven in 10 (68%) plan to do so less than once a week. Instead, the survey reveals a rise in households planning a ‘big night in’ with just under half (47%) of consumers planning a special occasion at home to replace going out, rising to 61% of 25- to 34-year-olds.

“With brand loyalty abandoned and so many consumers switching to cheaper options, grocery brands must take action if they want a place on shopping lists this winter,” Sankey warned.