Why Understanding Your Shopper Stubbornness is Critical During These Rapidly Changing Times

Last week there was a great article in Strategy magazine on brand marketing. Among other things it detailed how P&G is “doubling down” on brand building strategy, particularly to ensure brand trust stays strong even if shoppers opt for alternatives due to limited availability. 

Given their long-established (and well earned) reputation as a leader in CPG, we believe it’s advisable that other brands consider thinking similarly. And in doing so, BrandSpark’s Trust & Stubbornness Framework can be an extremely valuable asset to leverage in order to both understand where your category sits, and what the opportunities and threats are for your brand within that.

As we started explaining back in January, we developed this framework after studying the BrandSpark Most Trusted Award (BMTA) winner results over a number of years. What we came to learn was that it wasn’t just how many people trusted your brand, but also how much more they trusted your brand over the alternative, that mattered. We call this brand stubbornness, and the more stubborn your shoppers are, the more likely they are to stick with you.

Figure 1. below shows where each of 144 different categories sit in the BrandSpark Trust & Stubbornness Framework for 2020 in Canada. Which quadrant a category lands in, and where it falls within it, goes a long way in explaining the underlying competitive dynamics.

Figure 1. BrandSpark Trust & Stubborness Framework: Canada 2020

For example, for categories in the bottom left quadrant, there was already intense competition for trust leadership, and shoppers would switch to their next alternative relatively easily. Given this competitive context, we would expect that in most of these categories, many shoppers are easily switching between brands right now – though perhaps in some cases, shoppers may be becoming more definitive about their preferred brand choice.

In contrast, those in the top right have a dominant leader – a huge trust lead, and shoppers very stubborn about their choices. We would expect that in most cases in this quadrant, even if the shopper switched only because their preference wasn’t available, their underlying stubbornness indicates their trust connection with the brand will stay strong.

In the upper left quadrant, there are two (or more) different brands vying for the lead – but once a shopper chooses a preference, they are very reluctant to switch. Recent times may well have created some availability shortages that lead to trial of alternative products that might just perform well enough to change those shopper’s minds.

Finally, in the bottom right, while a dominant trust leader exists, shoppers have proven to be willing to switch relatively easily. This indicates a potential underlying vulnerability, particularly when competitive brands launch new and compelling innovations. Alternatively, in some categories, perhaps this is a time where shoppers become more stubborn about their preferences, elevating the leader into the upper right quadrant.

There’s a lot of different interesting questions and dynamics at play. And the framework itself and high-level data is just the start. From this foundation we dig into brand-specific stubbornness for leading and challenger brands alike, as well as performance on the 8 underlying drivers of stubbornness (which includes things like corporate values, which we expect to become more critical in the months and years to come) among other things. If you’d like to learn more about the model and how it can help your brand optimize its trust positioning, don’t be stubborn – contact us at info@brandspark.com