Brand loyalty cannot be created by lowering prices
Only one in four Germans says that they would really miss their preferred brand if it were to disappear from the market in the wake of the recession. This is a result of the study “Building Brands in Troubled Times”, for which the market research company TNS Infratest asked more than 5,000 people between the ages of 18 and 65 in Germany, France, Great Britain, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands about opportunities for a to filter out successful brand management in a crisis.
The strategy of ignoring the crisis and communicating with customers in the usual way was then clearly rejected. Only every tenth consumer would have recommended that nothing should change in communication, although the Germans would see this in the same way as consumers in other European countries. In addition, it is a mistake to think that a recession automatically requires price cuts in all industries. “Consumers may have a little less money at their disposal, but their demands in terms of quality and reputation of the brand have not changed significantly. Especially in times of crisis, consumers yearn for long-term, stable relationships with brands too, ”explains Uwe Braun, Director Brand & Communications at TNS Infratest. Even in the recession, the drivers of brand loyalty were not special offers and discounts, but trust and quality. This was confirmed in the study, for example, for brands in the fields of soft drinks, mobile phone providers, care products and also for brands in consumer electronics.
It looks a little different, however, only for brands in the retail sector. Because, on the one hand, private labels are more attractive in Germany than in other European countries and, on the other hand, the only branch in this area is that the aspect of “price reduction in the crisis” is a real driver of brand loyalty. In addition, the quality and accessibility of the branch or the point of sale would also play a role in strengthening the attractiveness of brands. The central factor for brand attractiveness in the automotive sector is both trust and the feeling of being able to “look up” a brand. In Germany, quality is strongly attributed to automobile brands, but it does not have the power to differentiate, as is the case in the other European countries examined. German motorists apparently require quality as a hygiene factor for a brand in order to be on the shortlist when buying a car. In order to strengthen the brand relationship in the financial services sector, brands must above all (regain) the trust of consumers. In addition to quality and trust, consumers would also focus on “help in difficult times” and “social responsibility”. Successful strategies for brands in times of crisis would have to be adapted to the brand and industry specific to all common features.