Retail is a dynamic and fluid market—a tale of winners and losers that dominates the business press around the world. From Amazon and Alibaba to Walmart and Aldi, the industry is constantly evolving to meet changing consumer needs and offer a competitive edge.

This continued global disruption and explosion of choice is driving widespread ambivalence and threatening loyalty to retailers from shoppers. As presented at Loyalty Reimagined, tcc global’s International Loyalty Study is testament to that. Having spoken to over 15,000 shoppers in 15 countries around the world, the study has identified the key challenge for retailers across the world: loyalty is found wanting.

Bryan Roberts, global insights director at tcc global explained: “The research shows that we are in a stage of market evolution where the traditional understanding of shopper loyalty has been compromised. Ambivalence has reached worrying levels in many markets, and shoppers are increasingly spreading their grocery spend across a variety of retailers and channels.”

Here, we explore the attitudes and behaviours of shoppers around the world, to pull out some actionable implications and recommendations for retailers.

An era of store proliferation

The ongoing expansion of discounters and convenience retailers (both in the shape of specialists like 7-Eleven and Couche-Tard as well as the convenience divisions of broader food retail groups like Carrefour and Tesco) has seen the level of choice available to the world’s grocery shoppers reach unprecedented levels. With greater choice comes greater promiscuity or, put another way, less loyalty.

Store choice driven largely by functional considerations

This increasing array of choice and shoppers’ willingness to shop across a significant number of the options available to them reflects the fact that they are primarily driven by functional and transactional factors. Indeed, nine of the ten global drivers for store choice are functional while just one has any sort of emotional dimension.

Shopper ambivalence

The fact that store choice has increased – and that store choice is predominantly driven by functional hygiene factors – has created a relationship between shoppers and their main grocery store that might be described most charitably as ambivalence.

This ambivalence is mirrored by the amount of effort that shoppers are prepared to make to get to their main grocery stores. Over half of all shoppers do not go out of their way to reach their store of their choice, with Germany, Australia and France have the shoppers that typically put in the least effort in reaching their preferred store.

Alongside location, prices are another key driver of choice, with nearly 70% of global shoppers agreeing with the statement “I go where I can find the cheapest prices.” The most price-driven shoppers are those in Brazil, Portugal and Taiwan.

Highest advocacy levels for C&C and discounters

It is not new news that the likes of Aldi and Lidl continue to exert significant disruption in markets around the world, taking market share from incumbent supermarkets in countries as diverse as the USA, Australia and the UK. But the discounters are successfully converting new shoppers into advocates and loyal customers.

As the chart indicates, discounters achieve the second highest Net Promoter Scores in grocery retailing, in stark contrast to the more traditional channels of convenience, hypermarkets and superstores.

Supermarket switching

Discounters have typically been the main winners when it comes attracting new main shoppers, with strong benefactors including Aldi in the UK, Lidl in Portugal and Penny in Germany.

What of loyalty cards?

Loyalty cards can be an effective way of creating a thread of loyalty between retailer and shopper, but it is increasingly clear that they are losing a degree of efficacy. On average, global grocery shoppers hold four loyalty cards but only use two, with shoppers in Brazil, France in the UK most guilty of sitting on a few unused loyalty cards.

What shoppers really want

In addition to all of the basic hygiene factors and functional attributes that shoppers are looking for from their retailers, shoppers are also seeking other qualities from businesses to which they devote a lot of their time and money—a degree of inspiration, education and guidance as they go about their everyday lives.

Seven in ten shoppers globally said they wanted to see loyalty rewards that go beyond the traditional loyalty card, seeking in particular inspiration and guidance that can enrich everyday lives, such as inspiring healthy meals and cooking, offering solutions to make life easier in the kitchen, encouraging healthier eating among kids, and providing fresh and tasty ways to explore foreign cuisine.

You can read the full report here. This research can be conducted for your market, assessing shopper attitudes you and your competitors, and delivered to you in person by tcc global. If this is of interest, please do not hesitate to contact Bryan Roberts, Group Insights Director on:

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