Source: Nielsen

What makes for loyal customers? That’s the question market research firm Nielsen asks in its quarterly Survey of Loyalty Sentiment. The above graph depicts what leads customers around the world to be unfaithful – whether by buying a different brand of beer or switching cell phone carriers. 

Around the world, price is the biggest lure for customers, followed by quality and to a lesser extent better service agreements, selection, and features. Asia is the lone region where quality beats out price as the top draw.

It’s hard to draw conclusions from such a diverse group of customers, products, and services. But the fact that price is most important in North America, home to “the customer is always right” American business culture, does strike us as intuitive. If companies in the U.S. do tend to meet a higher minimum standard for customer service, we’d expect price to become a more important differentiator between offerings. (Although we’re sure that our readers won’t all agree that Americans enjoy better customer service than average.)

One clear takeaway is that Amazon’s focus on relentlessly lowering costs will continue to draw new customers around the world and keep them shopping within Amazon.

Nielsen conducts this survey by polling nearly 30,000 customers around the world. One asterisk to note is that since the survey is conducted online, the results could represent different types of customers across regions based on which segments of the population have regular access to the Internet. 

Nielsen’s survey also found that customers are least loyal when choosing among products that they purchase frequently. When picking out cereal every week, customers can be swayed to try another brand by a competitor offering a discount or new flavor. Nielsen found customers to be least loyal to their regular brand of beer, soda, cereal, and snacks. Customers are much more loyal when it comes to buying a cell phone or choosing a bank – the industries with the highest loyalty rates in Nielsen’s survey. 

It’s not surprising that people are most “loyal” in situations like choosing a bank that involve long-term commitments and high switching costs. But it does serve as a sad reminder that credit card companies, banks, and cell phone carriers that aggravate us with terrible customer service and hidden fees don’t pay a penalty for crappy products and services. They’re some of the most reviled and complained about companies in America, yet enjoy customer loyalty that other industries can only dream of. 

To get occasional notifications when we write blog posts, sign up for our email list.