UK shoppers are spending in favour of ‘deserving’ brands

Research carried out by Karmarama.

Asos: brand was criticised for its behaviour at beginning of pandemic
Asos: brand was criticised for its behaviour at beginning of pandemic

The number of UK consumers changing their shopping habits based on how “deserving” they consider brands to be has increased since last year, Karmarama’s Human Insight study has found.

The research, which was carried out last month, found that shoppers are concerned about the treatment of employees, suppliers and customers, as well as brands’ ability to respond quickly but sensitively to social needs and how closely what they say aligns with what they do.

As a result, online conversations around which brands deserve their money have reached an average of 60% more than pre-Covid-19 levels, after more than tripling in the initial aftershock of the pandemic.

Karamarama’s U Ok UK? research found 64% of participants believed that how deserving a brand was of their service was an important factor in their customer experience.

The study found that this year, 73% of consumers felt it important that brands make clear what they are doing to help people and society beyond what they sell (compared with 61% in July last year), while 69% said they determine how deserving a brand is based on how closely what they say aligns with what they do. 

The treatment of staff is also considered a priority to consumers, with 81% of people planning to spend more with brands that treat their staff well (versus 61% last July); while 76% claimed they were more likely to purchase a brand if they see authentic brand engagement with the issues caused by Covid-19 (66% in July).

“Brand owners cannot afford to ignore the widespread and collective consumer reappraisal of spending that is now underway,” Will Hodge, chief strategy officer at Karmarama, said.

“Both digital and experience shifts are important, but it is also essential for brand owners to understand the new considerations driving consumers’ purchase decisions, while ensuring they also have the right criteria and measurements in place to understand customers’ evaluations of them and their competition."

At the beginning of the pandemic, brands including Asos and JD Wetherspoon landed in the firing line for their approach to the coronavirus.

While an Asos warehouse was described as a “cradle of disease” due to staff not being sufficiently protected during the pandemic, JD Wetherspoon reported that revenues plunged by more than half in the first six months of last year, largely credited to founder and chairman Tim Martin’s vocal criticisms of government regulations in the first leg of the pandemic. 

However Asos may have landed back in the nation’s good books after its £265m acquisition of the Topshop, Topman, Miss Selfridge and HIIT brands from Arcadia group.

Hodge continued: “Today’s successful brands go beyond their ambitions to differentiate themselves from their in-category competitors – to really connect with people, appropriate and appreciative cultural and corporate behaviours are just as important as what they sell.”

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