Soapbox: As customers are forced to cheat on their favorite brands, will they come back?

Ongoing supply chain shortages are part of our collective reality as retailers struggle to keep products stocked.

Greg Heist on May 20, 2020 at 8:05 am

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With desperate times come desperate measures. As retailers and etailers struggle to keep products stocked by the hour, many of us can attest to forgoing our favorite brands for any available brand on the shelf. But the question is, will forced brand switching have an impact on loyalty for the long term?

Online behavioral data reveals a 1,100% increase in people – mostly females – searching for the generic term “toilet paper” as compared to early January. Typically, 25-33% of shoppers search for toilet paper by brand name. However, as much as 83% of all recent toilet paper searches have been unbranded.

In addition to toilet paper, many of us cannot live without coffee. This category has historically seen steady search behavior with no real increases or decreases. At the beginning of 2020, searching for coffee by brand made up 85% of coffee-related searches. However, during March and April, this has dipped as low as 61%, signaling a 24% decline in brand loyalty. Again, to ensure there’s coffee at home in the morning, consumers are seeking out alternatives, some of which they have never considered before.

Is this just a short-term blip that marketers can soon forget? Unfortunately, the answer appears to be no. All evidence points to ongoing and persistent supply chain shortages being a part of our collective reality for at least the remainder of 2020.

If the scenario plays out this way, the logical question becomes: what will be key to bringing these wandering customers back? The answer lies in understanding the deeper connections customers have with the brands they love. Because love is a two-way street and the absence of your brand in their lives needs to feel like settling for number two isn’t going to be good enough.

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