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Brand switching: what it is and how to measure it

Don’t let brand switching slow your brand’s success. SurveyMonkey can help.

You’ve probably heard that it costs $5–$7 more to gain new customers than it does to keep your existing ones. And it’s frequently said that an average of 60-70% of business sales are attributed to existing customers. That’s why a consumer behavior called brand switching can be detrimental to your business—especially if it becomes a trend.

A thorough understanding of brand switching and consumer sentiment is vital in avoiding the problem, so we’re taking a closer look at this consumer behavior and how you can get ahead of it.

Brand switching is a change in consumer buying habits in which long-term customers choose to switch to another brand. You can think of it as the opposite of brand loyalty, in which the customer chooses your brand above all others. Brand switching occurs most often among customers who generally buy based on brand. It usually transpires during times of economic difficulties, either individual or market-wide. 

A simple brand switching example is this: A customer who has purchased the same brand of laundry detergent for 10 years decides to start buying a different brand.

Brand switching trends can negatively affect your revenue and profit streams. It’s critical to understand why consumers choose to switch brands so that you can promote customer loyalty for your brand and prevent losses in sales and market share. 

There are four main reasons for customers switching brands. Let’s look at each one and discuss how you can avoid it.

Loyal customers will continue to buy your brand, regardless of price—up to a point. Consider another brand switching example: Imagine your customer in the grocery store, headed to the spaghetti sauce aisle. This customer always buys Brand A, and they trust the brand to provide quality and value. Today, however, they notice that Brand A is significantly more expensive than other brands. 

They’re in the sauce aisle, facing hundreds of options, and have several less-expensive brands to choose from. Brand B offers sauces that are very similar to Brand A for a lower price. They try it and like it, so they buy Brand B from that point forward.

Customers may switch based on affordability and perceived value at a given price. What can you do to avoid brand switching due to price? Start with some market research. Examine your target market and answer these questions:

  • What is my target customer able to spend on my product?
  • What is my target customer willing to pay for my product?
  • Is my target customer more driven by a lower price or perceived value?

Don’t stop there. After you answer those three questions, it’s time for some competitor research:

  • What are competitors charging for comparable products?
  • How do your competitors’ products compare to mine? 
    • Do they offer anything different?
    • Is the perceived value of their product better than mine?

With that information and consideration of market conditions, you can set an effective pricing strategy in motion that will discourage brand switching.

When a brand has been around for a long time, it can begin to feel dated. People may start to experience brand fatigue and look for something new. They’re seeking something that feels new and fresh—and there are plenty of competitors to choose from. 

They may also be overwhelmed by your constant innovation and offerings beyond what your brand is known for. There’s a proper balance to find. 

Brand image is an important factor in keeping customers interested in your brand. A good brand image builds trust, equity, and credibility. It also allows for growth. 

You can discover more and improve your brand image by:

  1. Collecting feedback about your brand perception 
  2. Looking for specific, actionable insights
  3. Adjusting your brand image and measuring brand perception again
  4. Repeat steps 1–3 as needed

You’ll need to keep a close eye on your brand health. Our Brand Tracker is a comprehensive solution for monitoring brand health, helping you grow brand awareness, evolving your brand perception, and much more.

Similar to the effects of brand fatigue, if your main product offering lacks innovation when other brands are leaping forward, customers will brand switch. Nobody wants a product that seems dated—they want the newest, best product out there. That’s one reason that iPhones seem to gain more customers via brand switching every time they release a phone model with fresh, groundbreaking features.

Again, to avoid this happening with your products, you must start with research to answer these questions:

  • Why are customers losing interest in your product?
  • Are your competitors offering something new and different?
  • Is the latest generation of consumers interested in our product?
  • What do our customers actually want?

Use the collected feedback to make informed business decisions about upgrades, improvements, and additions to your products.

Customer service can make or break a brand. It only takes one bad service experience for a customer to switch brands. And when they have what they consider a bad experience, customers are very vocal about it in reviews, social media, and by word of mouth. 

Poor customer service can often lead to poor brand sentiment, which leads to switching. Good customer service requires:

  • Fast response to customer service requests/questions
  • Staff training
    • Specific training for buyer personas
    • Handling different types of complaints
    • How to deal with difficult customers
  • Putting the right people (those comfortable talking to customers regularly) in customer service positions
  • A clear process for dealing with typical issues, refunds, and returns
  • Understanding that while some customers have legitimate issues, others will make outrageous demands

The key to getting ahead of brand switching is market research and brand switching analysis. SurveyMonkey has the market research tools you need to assess how your customers feel about your brand—and if they’re loyal or likely to brand switch.

To conduct your brand switching analysis:

Customers engage in brand switching for a variety of reasons. The only way to find out where your brand stands is to ask your customers for their insights. SurveyMonkey offers several market research solutions to help you learn about your customers, competitors, and brand performance.

The SurveyMonkey Brand Tracker is a unique tool for spotting trends, monitoring key metrics, and providing insights into your brand health. Don’t let brand switching happen to you. Sign up today!

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