Background and aim: There is little academic research on tobacco brand loyalty and switching, and even less in restrictive marketing environments such as Australia. This paper examines tobacco brand family loyalty, reasons for choice of brand and the relation between these and sociodemographic variables over a period of 10 years in Australia.
Methods: Data from current Australian smokers from 9 waves of the International Tobacco Control Policy Evaluation 4-Country Survey covering the period from 2002 to early 2012. Key measures reported were having a regular brand, use for at least 1 year, brand stability (derived from same reported brand at successive waves), and reasons for choosing brands.
Results: Measures of brand loyalty showed little change across the period, with around 80% brand stability and 95% reporting a regular brand. Older adults were more brand-loyal than those under 25. Young people's brand choice was influenced more by friends, whereas older adults were more concerned about health. Price was the most reported reason for brand switching. Those in the higher income tertiles showed more loyalty than those in the lowest. The least addicted smokers also showed less brand loyalty. We found no clear relationship between brand loyalty and policies that were implemented to affect tobacco use.
Conclusions: Levels of brand loyalty in Australia are quite high and consistent, and do not appear to have been influenced greatly by changes in tobacco control policies.
Keywords: Advertising and Promotion; Economics; Price; Socioeconomic status; Tobacco industry.