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New research reveals ‘Brand Britain’ is powerful in driving consumer interest, but many fail to identify whether a brand is UK-based or not.

The study by Rakuten Marketing revealed the varying attitudes towards brand loyalty amongst consumers in the UK, as they want to buy British, but brands need to make it clear that they are ‘made in the UK’ to gain loyalty from this association.

In addition, the research shows huge variation in loyalty to fashion brands between different age groups, with under 30s much more devoted to brands than older demographics.

Nick Fletcher, head of multichannel at Rakuten Marketing comments: “When it comes to leaving a brand, over a quarter of under 30s (27%) turn away for reasons that don’t have anything to do with the products or price point they offer. Brands must add value to the customer experience they provide in order to compete.”

Buying British

Over half of respondents said that they care about ‘buying from British brands’ and this increases to nearly 60% amongst the over 60s. However, when quizzed about which brands are home-grown many of them answer incorrectly, suggesting that they’re not as loyal to UK companies as they say they are.

Only a tenth of the survey respondents correctly identified popular high street brands including SuperDry (11%), Hotel Chocolat (9%) and Caffé Nero (6%) as British. Nearly a third of Brits polled consider British Airways to be a foreign owned business, perhaps indicating a growing belief that successful British businesses have been bought out.

Fashion brand loyalty decreases with age

Sixty-nine per cent of the ‘millennial’ market (16-29 year olds) say that they are loyal to a fashion brand but this drops to just 27% for those over the age of 60. Only 22% of people say that it’s most important for them to shop from fashion brands that echo the kind of person they want to be perceived as, whilst 61% say the products the brand offers are most important, compared to 49% who say they choose a brand because the price point is correct for them.

Other key factors include the brand’s trustworthiness (38%) and the reputation of the brand as an employer (11%). Over a quarter of shoppers (28%) say that they purchase from a fashion brand they are loyal to once a month and 26% purchase from a fashion brand every three months, suggesting that brands can still earn loyalty over longer time frames. In fact, 33% of ‘Grey Pound’ (over 60s shoppers) buy from the brand they’re most loyal to once a year or less.

Mr. Fletcher added: “Nearly a fifth (17%) of 16-29 year olds place importance on brand experience, proving the importance of tailored marketing campaigns. It’s easier than ever for brands to segment their communications to make them relevant to the individual now due to advanced data technologies and brands have to take advantage of this to win loyalty.”

The value of loyalty

Nearly a quarter (23%) of shoppers say that loyalty points redeemable against future purchase incentivise them to spend more online, showing the value of keeping a customer once they have invested in a brand. For 44% of consumers the awareness of voucher codes, such as a 10% discount, can prompt them to purchase more and a free delivery offer encourages half of shoppers to purchase highlighting the power of incentives.

Legacy brands top confidence list

The research also identifies the brands that consumers believe are most likely to still be in business in 10 years’ time. The top five are all over 100 years old:

  1. John Lewis
  2. Marks & Spencer
  3. Boots
  4. Harrods
  5. Next
Marks & Spencer is considered by two-thirds (66%) of respondents to have successfully changed its offering at least somewhat to adapt with the times, highlighting that if legacy brands can move with the times they can win loyalty and trust for the long term.

Fletcher continues: “The brands that people expect to be in business in 2026 are the heritage players on our high street at the moment. Although there is a new era of companies driving their businesses through apps, for example, it’s still legacy brands that win out in the minds of consumers as having staying power. Brits cannot imagine the retail environment without these brands.”