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Customers are loyal but easily tempted by discounts, new studies suggest

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Customers may feel loyal to specific retailers, but they’re easily tempted away by discounts – and especially at Christmas, new studies suggest.

M&S is the clothing retailer that shoppers feel most loyal to, according to a new study. The multichannel high street trader was mentioned by 12% of 2,0000 shoppers asked to identify up to three clothing brands or retailers to which they consider themselves most loyal, in a survey carried out by Redshift Research. It was followed by multichannel Next (9.6%) and offline-only Primark (5.9%). Overall, 71% of shoppers said they were loyal to one, two or three clothing retailers or brands. Only 16% said they were not loyal at all.

Nonetheless, 88% of grocery shoppers could be tempted away from their main supermarket by promotions, and 87% will use a promotional offer when they are shopping this Christmas, according to a study from coupon and voucher provider Valassis, which questioned 2,000 UK adults in a GfK NOP poll between November 10 and 13.

While shoppers may feel loyal, 48% could be persuaded to switch their supermarket allegiance for a two-for-one offer, the study found.

“Consumers are promotion sensitive with a majority of Christmas grocery shoppers influenced by promotional offers,” said Charles D’Oyly, managing director of Valassis. “Supermarket loyalty is being challenged by consumers in search of the best deal and the rise of deep discounters is a noticeable trend in the UK grocery market.”

Shoppers put their willingness to look for promotions down to the rising cost of living and hikes in food prices. The favoured promotion was a two-for-one deal, followed by “everyday low price promises”.

Meanwhile, the study, Knowing them, knowing you, follows a previous 2014 study that found 50% of fashion retailers said maintaining customer loyalty was their biggest challenge.

““While it’s clearly very difficult for apparel brands to secure the expressed loyalty of even just one in forty people, as the ASOS share of mentions received clearly illustrates, loyalty itself is very clearly not dead. With all retailers trying to achieve this on a daily basis, this response suggests retailers still have improvements to make,” said Stuart Simms,’s chief executive officer.

“The challenge for every retailer is identifying how they can get to know their customers better and how they can systematically put that knowledge to work across their organisation to enhance customer loyalty and engagement beyond transactions alone. As it stands, even the largest retailers and supermarkets can’t assume we’ll simply come back next time.”

Our view: Yes, we know these two studies cover two different sectors, but we believe these contrasting findings will have something to say about both of those sectors and more besides. For they seem to us, between them, to say something about human behaviour. While we may intend to take one course of action, we’ll easily take another if the opportunity – or discount – arises. And that’s something retailers in all categories will do well to consider this Christmas.

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