Why shoppers are trying new brands more often

A rise in shoppers trying new brands reflects both a changing economic reality, and underlying psychographic motivations
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April 17, 2024 at 5:00 am UTC

Key Takeaways

  • In recent months consumers have been trying new brands more often. For example, 58% of consumers who said they shopped for home furnishings in the past month said they purchased from a new-to-them brand, up 8 percentage points from September 2023.

  • Much of this switching activity is driven by a reduction in price sensitivity, particularly among high income shoppers.

  • Millennials are most consistent in their desire to try new brands. Gen Z is similarly oriented to novelty, with the stark exception of personal electronics.

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Great news for new customer acquisition, bad news for loyalty efforts: shoppers are trying new brands more often. The share of shoppers who say they’ve tried a new brand in the last month has been steadily increasing since last fall, alongside moderating inflation and growing consumer confidence. 

Shoppers’ propensity to try new brands is increasing 

In recent months, more shoppers have indicated that they’ve purchased from new-to-them brands, particularly in the home furnishings, personal electronics and apparel categories, all of which are up 8 percentage points from September 2023. The change can be attributed to two key factors:

  1. Inflation pressure is abating, and consumer confidence is rising. This means shoppers are more willing to shop for fun, or take a chance on a new brand. Shoppers also say that they make an effort to try new brands in the home furnishings and apparel categories.
  2. These categories also lend themselves to switching more often. For example, home furnishings and personal electronics purchases tend to be infrequent, with little opportunity for repeat purchases that cement brand loyalty.

Shoppers report trying new brands more often in early 2024

Share of category shoppers who report purchasing new-to-them brands in the past month
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Survey conducted monthly from March 2023 to February 2024 among a representative sample of at least 2,023 U.S. adults, with an unweighted margin of error of +/-2 percentage points.

Groceries, household goods, beauty and personal care products all consistently see lower rates of switching, though they’re also rising to a lesser degree. These categories tend to be higher frequency consumables, where consumers form purchasing habits drive brand loyalty. 

Younger, wealthier consumers make an effort to try new brands more often

Young adults are more likely than those in older generations to say they purposefully seek out new brands. Gen Zers and millennials tend to have higher consumption volume than their elders, and enjoy seeking out novelty in the brands they shop from. Millennials are most consistent in their desire to try new brands. Gen Z is similarly disloyal, with the glaring exception of personal electronics, where they show a strong preference for Apple. 

Millennials are most consistent in their effort to try new brands

Shares of respondents who say they usually make an effort to try new brands in each category:
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Survey conducted Feb. 28-Mar. 8, 2024, among a representative sample of 2,218 U.S. adults, with an unweighted margin of error of +/-2 percentage points.

High income shoppers also tend to switch brands more often, though they’re inconsistent across categories. Morning Consult economic data shows that high earners’ price sensitivity is coming down, so trying new brands is a result of being less likely to walk away from a purchase even if the price is higher than expected. What motivates low income shoppers to try new brands is different: ongoing high prince sensitivity means when people are switching it’s likely to find a lower cost alternative. 

A desire for high social status drives switching behavior

There’s a sharp divide in the psychographic profile of brand switchers versus brand loyalists. Morning Consult Audience data shows that brand switchers, defined as those who disagree with the statement “when I find a product or service I like, I stick with it,” orient to external validation. They’re more likely to agree that they strive for high social status, they like to live an impressive lifestyle, and that being part of the popular crowd is important to them. For this group, conspicuous consumption reigns. On the other hand, loyalists, defined as those who agree with the above statement, aren’t swayed by trends, and tend to agree that they’re creatures of habit and prefer to buy time-tested products. 

Brand switchers are status seeking, while loyalists are creatures of habit

Shares who agreed with the following statements:
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Morning Consult Audience gathered 11,556 survey responses Apr. 9, 2023 - Apr. 9, 2024 with a margin of error of +/- 0.9 percentage points.

Brands struggling with customer attrition should look to investigate the drivers of customer loyalty. Our past analysis shows a product’s ability to contribute to a shoppers’ sense of self esteem, and enjoyment of the shopping experience are two key attributes. 

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Claire Tassin is a retail and e-commerce analyst. She conducts research on shifting consumer behaviors and expectations, as well as trends relevant to marketing leaders in the retail sector.
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