Factors that determine brand loyalty in supermarkets in Nairobi
The retail sector in Kenya in which supermarkets operate is changing so fast. Supermarkets have experienced radical changes in consumer behavior and brand loyalty due to stiff competition. It is against this background that supermarkets have been seeking to employ marketing strategies that create loyalty among their target markets. This points to the need for research in order to understand the particular factors that make customers loyal to a particular supermarket. The objectives of this study were to determine the factors that determine brand loyalty to a particular supermarket and to rank those factors according to their importance in determining loyalty. To this end sixty respondents were chosen from the customers who randomly walk in and out of supennarkets. A recruitment guide was used to ensure that only loyal customers were chosen. Primary data was collected with the use of a questionnaire. The questionnaire contained structured likert scale questions which respondents filled as they left the supermarket. Once data had been collected, it was analyzed by use of descriptive statistics using statistical program for social sciences (SPSS). These included tables, charts and percentages to represent the response rate and provide information on the other variables that the study considered. Means and standard deviations were also used to assess the relative importance that customers attached to the various factors considered. The analysis revealed that there are many factors that determine brand loyalty to supermarkets. Out of the eight categories of factors considered, employee appearance and behavior towards customers prompt services, solving customer problems as well as availability of merchandise and price charged received high ratings. Information technology such as database management programs that allow for individualized marketing and online shopping received the lowest rating. The study recommends that supermarkets should enhance all those aspects of their operations that most contribute to loyalty among their customers. These include proper employee training, strategic location of the supermarket, reasonable pricing of products offering prompt services and having effective complaints and problem solving channel. The need for supermarkets to enhance the use of information technology and to be all inclusive by offering other services such as salons, food and drink joints bouncing castles and car wash services was also recommended. Although these services received low rating it was observed that if they were fully exploited they could be a source of competitive advantage and ultimately enhance loyalty. The study focused on supermarkets that operate within the city of Nairobi. As the researcher noted there is a trend of the existing supermarkets establishing more branches outside Nairobi. New supermarkets .arealso being established in other smaller towns within the country. It is therefore recommended that further research could be carried out to determine the factors that determine brand loyalty to supermarkets in other areas.