Only 9% of Malaysian consumers consider themselves to be committed loyalists when it comes to their favourite brands, slightly higher than the global average of 8%. According to Nielsen's global consumer loyalty study, 44% of consumers say they are now more likely to try brands they have never tried before compared to five years ago. Another 22% say that they now have a larger set of brands in their repertoire, but still prefer to stick to brand names they know.
Meanwhile, only 31% say that they still continue to buy their favourite brands every time they shop, as they did half a decade ago.
Also, 44% of Malaysian consumers say they love trying new things and although 47% of them prefer to stick with what they know, they can be moved to experiment. Chocolate and biscuits (53%) and fruit juices (45%) top the list for categories where brand switching is more prevalent.
On the other hand, Malaysians are brand loyal when it comes to personal care products, with 46% saying they only choose from one or two shampoo and hair conditioner brands, and 45% choose from one or two skincare brands including body lotions, moisturisers and body wash.
Monetary factors are the main influences for switching brands, with 49% of Malaysians saying that they are always swayed if a product demonstrates value for money. Meanwhile, 47% will switch for price reductions or promotions. Only 35% are influenced by the fact that a brand is well known and trusted.
On a regional level, Asia Pacific has the highest brand-switching propensity, with 47% willing to switch brands or try different products, closely followed by Africa and the Middle East (45%) and Latin America (42%). Consumers in North America and Europe are somewhat less likely to switch brands, at 36% and 33%, respectively.
Asia Pacific is the only region where value for money does not rank as the top factor influencing brand purchasing decisions.
On average, 42% of consumers say enhanced or superior quality is their key consideration, while 40% are influenced by value for money. However, value for money stands out as the key influencer of brand choice in Africa and the Middle East (44%), North America (38%), Latin America (37%) and Europe (35%).
Luca De Nard, MD of Nielsen Malaysia, said brand owners need to get accustomed to this new normal, where the overwhelming majority of consumers are actively or passively open to playing the field when it comes to brands.
He attributes part of this it to the so-called “Amazon effect”, which has expanded consumers’ choice and enables price awareness more than ever before. However, he says there are multiple factors working in tandem to create disloyalty among consumers.
“There are Facebook groups in Malaysia, where consumers can hunt or even broker deals for new products at competitive prices. We also have trucks selling fresh meat, poultry and produce in neighbourhoods offering consumers convenience at prices that rival supermarkets. At the same time, traditional grocery retailers are trying to find ways to retain profitability levels in a world where home delivery is beginning to undermine margins," he explained.
De Nard added that while Malaysian consumers may be enticed by a product’s price, they will also commit to brands that demonstrate superior quality. He also explained that independent opinions and reviews are also influential in persuading a consumer to buy one product or brand over another, which is why brands should capitalise on the ability to generate personal dialogues with consumers through social media while also allowing prospects the opportunity to provide feedback. According to him, these efforts will go a long way in fostering consumer acquisition and retention.
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