Supply chain issues leave customers frustrated; brand loyalty at risk

Sej Patel, Country Director ANZ, Toluna,

Supply chain issues continue to impact Aussies, affecting both their mood and shopping behaviour, according to new research by Toluna, a leading consumer intelligence platform.

The research which surveyed 1031 Aussies between 4-9 February 2022, showed that shoppers switch brands when their preferred brand isn’t available, leaving brand loyalty in question. 73% have experienced product shortages because of ongoing supply chain issues.

In stores, shoppers continue to experience empty shelves (88%) and buying limits (66%), while online shoppers are experiencing delivery delays (50%) and brand unavailability (51%).

Grocery stores appear to be the most affected, with 85% citing availability issues in grocery stores. However, shoppers also report having experienced product shortages in clothing and footwear retailers (19%), home ware (16%), and electrical stores (14%).

Fresh meat is proving the most difficult to source (64%), with pantry products (44%), fresh fruit and vegetables (40%), and household cleaning products (33%) also difficult to find.

When it came to online shopping, almost half (47%) of respondents said they were willing to go back to in-store shopping due to products being temporarily unavailable online.

Brand loyalty and changing behaviors

When their preferred brand is unavailable, most (77%) Australians are willing to substitute for a new brand, something which may pose an issue for long-term brand loyalty.

Across the various categories, shoppers were happiest to switch to a different brand of chilled dairy (54%), household cleaning products (49%), or alcohol (44%) when their preferred brand was unavailable. However, Aussies are more likely to shop around in search of their favourite fresh meat (40%), pet food (40%), or baby products (35%).

In addition to brand switching, 50% of respondents are also now shopping in other locations, such as local butchers or farmers markets, that are less impacted by supply chain issues.

43% buy extra of the products they need once they come back in stock, and 20% are stockpiling products such as canned goods, paracetamol, and toilet paper to boost supplies.

Stressed out and in prep mode

More than just an inconvenience, the supply chain issues are affecting shoppers’ moods. 67% of shoppers feel frustrated when they see empty shelves and missing products, while for some, it can make them feel stressed (35%), anxious (36%), or even angry (27%).

Australians are also preparing themselves in case they get sick and have to isolate.

One in three (30%) have created a ‘COVID kit’ filled with medicines they may need if they get sick, while one in four (26%) are ensuring they have enough pre-prepared food in the fridge so they don’t need to cook if they’re feeling unwell. A quarter (27%) of respondents are also ensuring they have a supply of rapid antigen tests (RAT) available on hand if they need.

Toluna comment on the survey

Sej Patel, Country Director, Toluna, Australia & New Zealand said the ongoing issues with product unavailability are affecting shopping behaviour. “Australian shoppers are clearly frustrated by the continued supply chain issues and are changing their behaviour as a result.”

“Our research shows that people are brand switching more than ever, and shopping around to find the items they need. For brands, this may have serious implications for brand loyalty.”

“While some shoppers will happily revert back to their favourite brands when they return to the shelves, other shoppers will just as happily stick with the substitute brands they tried. Even once the supply chain issues are resolved, the next 6-12 months will be a challenging time in retail as brands fight to retain new customers while trying to win back old ones.”