In an era when there is more competition than ever for customers’ attention and dollars, the coin of the realm is the ability to keep your customers coming back. According to a recent survey on customer loyalty, promotional products companies may increasingly want to consider seizing on one rising factor to buyers’ loyalty: community.

The 2022 Customer Loyalty Data Study from Clarus Commerce found that, among the 2,500 consumers surveyed, a strong sense of community was the second most common description of why they’re loyal to their favorite brands, at 22% of respondents. That trailed only the higher quality of the brand’s products, at 27%, and was ahead of historically key factors such as better prices 17% and convenience of use 6%.

“For consumers who indicate a strong sense of community drives loyalty to their favorite brands, social media communities built around products or services are the most in demand. Brands have an enormous opportunity to engage with existing, organic social media communities as well as build their own followings,” the study concludes.

When it comes to creating the community, 34% of respondents are looking for the opportunity to join online groups, and 32% say they’re interested in attending in-person events. Eighteen percent look to consumer brand-related content, and 15% are eager to receive exclusive products or offers related to the brand. 

As corporate social responsibility becomes an increasing factor in consumer behavior, younger buyers in particular say they exhibit loyalty to companies that align with their personal values. “The biggest loyalty drivers for 18-24-year-olds are feeling a strong sense of community with others loyal to the brand as well as the brand’s social impact,” the report says. “For those over 40, quality is the dominant trait driving loyalty.” Twenty-eight percent of Gen Z respondents said the brand they are most loyal to does good in the world or has a positive social impact.

Brands should be motivated to live up to their CSR efforts and be careful which causes they align themselves with, since 33% of respondents said the brand taking a stance on a social issue they disagree with would disrupt their loyalty, and 16% will become less loyal if they hear the brand isn’t living up to its publicly stated values.

Promotional products suppliers and distributors alike should fully appreciate the value of customer loyalty to their company’s brands. Sixty-seven percent of survey respondents said they bought their favorite brand’s products at least once per month, and 48% were brand evangelists, telling their friends about the product or service.