One fifth of shoppers not loyal to any supermarket, new SMG study reveals

Shopper swapper risk

Shopper swapper risk

Number of swapper shoppers

Number of swapper shoppers

Risk by shopper spend

Risk by shopper spend

New research by Starcom MediaVest Group (SMG) shows nearly a fifth of supermarket shoppers in England and Wales lack loyalty towards any of the big six supermarkets.

SMG’s Regional Shopper Risk Index is the third wave of its SupermarketUK retail study and reveals, of the 45m regular supermarket shoppers, 8.75m of these are promiscuous ‘swapper shoppers’ who show no allegiance to Asda, Co-operative, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Tesco or Waitrose.

SMG analysed Kantar’s TGI data to identify ‘swapper shopper’ behaviour in 21.1m regular shoppers across England and Wales revealing regional variations.

Waitrose has the least loyal customer base with 22.6% of its 2.03m regular customers classed as ‘swapper shoppers’ who are likely to shop with a rival. In real terms Tesco is most at risk of turncoats due its dominant market share with 3.51m ‘swapper shoppers’, the study has revealed.

Proportionately, five of the big six have around a fifth of their regular shopper base at risk with Co-operative and Morrisons shoppers marginally less likely to switch allegiance than Asda, Sainsbury’s and Tesco.

“The study is particularly interesting as it shows a large proportion of each supermarket’s shopper base is vulnerable. Supermarkets need to be aware of this and constantly work towards keeping their customers satisfied, paying special attention to high risk areas,” said Thaer Namruti, analytics director, Starcom MediaVest Group.

At a regional level, Waitrose’s woes are felt particularly in London and the South East, where customer propensity to switch supermarkets is especially high. The Co-operative’s shoppers in Wales and the South West are also at risk of switching supermarket preference.

The Regular Shopper Risk Index also exposed differences by average weekly spend levels, said SMG.

Waitrose and Sainsbury’s power base of London and South East is consistently at risk across all spend levels. This high risk correlates with a store network reach that attracts more of their customers and therefore they have more to defend. Both have an equally loyal base in the North, with this loyalty for Sainsbury’s extending across Wales and the West.

The Co-operative’s highest risk customers in Wales and the South West are light spenders and so moving these up the value chain to medium spenders carries significant risk, said researchers.

Asda followed by Tesco has the lowest risk shoppers across the board, based on spend levels, and so the greatest opportunity to increase shopper expenditure.

“The Regular Shopper Risk Index shows nearly 9m of us are ‘swapper shoppers’ with little loyalty to any of the big six supermarkets, rather like a ‘swing voter’ in political terms,” said Stewart Easterbrook, CEO, Starcom MediaVest Group.

“Waitrose has the highest proportion of potential defectors, possibly due to the increased sensitivity of their customers in a tough economic climate, coupled with a high concentration of stores in the South East and London, which face tough competition.

“Tesco too has cause for concern with the greatest market share, the largest amount of promiscuous shoppers and so the most to defend. As the UK supermarket wars hot up, this study highlights the national and regional battlegrounds the big six need to win to keep their tills ringing.”