comScore has just published a study on how consumers are coping with the continuing recession and the impact this is having on brand loyalty.

Their conclusion is signaled in the title: The Effects of the Recession on Brand Loyalty and ‘Buy Down’ Behavior: 2011 Update. (registration required to download study)

What they find is that since 2008 consumers have steadily been trending down on the the following shopping option: “I buy the brand I want most”.

The percentage indicating this as their shopping behavior has dropped from 54% in 2008 to 43% in 2011. More people choose “buy less expensive brands to save money” or “sometimes buy a different brand if it is on sale”.

Thus the term ‘buy down’.

I’m wondering … what’s the equivalent to shopping ‘buy down’ when it comes to donating money?

Arguably there’s not much relevance in the nonprofit to a concept of a cheaper brand — a ‘cheaper’ enviro group or a ‘bargain’ child sponsor agency doesn’t seem to be pertinent.

I would point to three ‘buy down’ effects in giving …

First is giving to fewer organizations — so if you’re a ‘survivor’ group that makes the cut, you’d say loyalty was the reason; if your group doesn’t make the cut, you’d probably say ‘loyalty is down’ in the nonprofit space!

Second is smaller average gifts, rather than outright abandonment, which definitely has been an observed pattern.

Third might be a preference to give locally, rather than to national or international groups. More of a ‘circle the wagons’ and ‘take care of our own’ mentality sets in as resources diminish. And local results are often much easier to see … a high priority for financially stressed donors.

Whichever of these recession effects is more likely for your organization, it seems very unlikely that ‘buy down’ behavior isn’t happening throughout the nonprofit sector.

Personally, I think I might prefer to work with a high profile local cause or charity if I were seeking a fundraising job today. Refer to yesterday’s Agitator post on the Humane Society for Southwest Washington!


This article was posted in: Donor retention / loyalty / commitment, Nonprofit branding, Nonprofit management, Research.
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