Comscore ARS Reports Decline in Loyalty for Many Consumer Goods Brands During Recession

Clear Evidence that “Trading Down” is Driven by Consumers’ Need for Cost Savings

Reston, VA, May 4, 2010 – Comscore, Inc. (NASDAQ: SCOR), a leader in measuring the digital world, today released the March 2010 results of a study on brand loyalty among consumer goods products, showing a significant decline in consumers’ allegiance to their favorite brands during the past two years. The results of the study were presented by Comscore chairman Gian Fulgoni at the Festival of Media conference in Valencia, Spain on Tuesday, April 20, 2010.

“A decline in loyalty to consumer goods brands is typically one of the byproducts of a recession as consumers give greater consideration to price,” said Mr. Fulgoni. “Research we’ve conducted at Comscore ARS has quantified the impact of the ‘trading down’ effect within a number of different product categories, highlighting consumers’ increasing willingness to switch brands in the face of pocketbook constraints.”

Brand Loyalty Diminishes Across All Product Categories and Segments in Study

The study evaluated the change in brand loyalty within a number of consumer goods categories, including health & beauty aids, OTC medications, apparel, food, household products and housewares. As the economic downturn has continued, the percentage of shoppers who typically buy the brands they want most has steadily declined across the categories examined. In March 2010, less than 50 percent of shoppers reported purchasing the brand they want most.

In some categories, particularly CPG household products and housewares, consumers were already more likely to buy a brand they didn’t “want most” at the start of the recession. Some categories (e.g., paper towels, facial tissue) have not seen increased trading down from a brand perspective, possibly because such categories have led the way in tiering, allowing consumers to stick with their preferred brand at a more attractive price point. As the economic downturn has persisted, this trading down behavior appears to be spreading to categories that were previously immune (e.g. HBA, OTC). The increases in trading down in these categories have largely occurred in the last year. Higher ticket items have seen large increases in trading down possibly due to larger absolute savings on a single purchase.

Q: “I buy the brand I want most”
March 2010 vs. March 2009 vs. March 2008
Total U.S.
Source: Comscore ARS
Category Segment Mar-08 Mar-09 Mar-10 Net Shift Mar-10 vs. Mar-08
Health & Beauty Aids Toothpaste 67% 64% 57% -10
Mouth rinse 61% 59% 44% -17
Shampoo 65% 64% 52% -13
OTC Cough/Cold/Allergy 58% 59% 43% -15
Apparel Jeans 54% 49% 39% -15
Food Soup 56% 51% 52% -4
Pasta sauce 53% 48% 45% -8
Fruit juice 51% 44% 40% -11
Household Products Laundry detergent 57% 50% 47% -10
Facial tissue 43% 40% 39% -4
Paper towels 36% 34% 35% -1
Housewares Small Appliances 45% 38% 34% -11

As part of the study, U.S. consumers were also asked about the type of brand they did buy when not their preferred one, with a focus on the importance of promotional discounts and lower price in causing the shift.

Consumer Sentiment on “Trading Down”
March 2010 vs. March 2008
Total U.S.
Source: Comscore, Inc.
Category Net Shift 2008 to 2010
“I buy the brand I want most” “I sometimes buy a different brand if it is on sale” “I buy less expensive brands to save money”
Health & Beauty Aids -14% 7% 7%
OTC Medications -15% 10% 5%
Apparel -15% 3% 12%
Food -7% 4% 3%
Consumables -5% 4% 1%
Housewares -11% 7% 4%

For most categories, the drop in likelihood to shop for the brand wanted most is not restricted to buying other brands on sale. Rather, a sizeable percentage of the change in shopping approach is being driven by a decision to convert to less expensive brands to save money.

Mr. Fulgoni added: “Despite these shifting consumer dynamics, research has repeatedly shown that premium brands which invest in marketing and promotion activities aimed at maintaining buying at ‘preferred’ levels are able to minimize short-term erosion of share to less expensive brands and position themselves for a bounce-back when the economy improves.”

Gian Fulgoni to Present Findings in Upcoming Webinar

Comscore ARS has developed numerous best practices over the years to help managers of premium brands effectively navigate a turbulent economic environment. Mr. Fulgoni will share these time-tested practices, along with a review of two brands that used the recession to actually strengthen their business, in an upcoming webinar on Friday, May 14 at 11:00 AM EST. To register for the webinar, please visit:

About Comscore
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