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The public is not concerned whether it buys in one of the Supersol chain stores or at its rival Blue Square supermarkets, as long as the store has the range of products that they are accustomed to buying and at low prices.

The low priced supermarkets - such as the private Haviv, Hatzi Hinam, Victory or Clubmarket's subsidiary chains - have the highest level of loyalty among consumers. But the loyalty to even these supermarket chains is much lower than the public's loyalty to the large food manufacturers Tnuva, Elite, Osem, Strauss and Telma, according to the results of a survey commissioned from the Shiluv research institute for Haaretz.

In response to the question `What would you do if the branch of the supermarket that you shop in was closed and in its place a branch of another chain opened?', only 7 percent of the Supersol chain's customers answered that they would stay true to the chain, even if it meant a longer drive. Only 11 percent of Blue Square's customers gave the same answer, that they would continue shopping in one of its stores.

Of Clubmarket's low-price chain customers - Clubmarket, Jumbo and Hetzi Kupah - only 15 percent would remain loyal to the chain if their local branch closed.

The highest loyalty belongs to the private chains: 25 percent of these customers said that they would continue to buy even if they had to drive farther.

Surprisingly, while the private chains gained their following due to their low prices, today they have loyal customers not only because of price. When asked `What would you do if the branch you regularly shop in closed and another chain's store opened with the same products and prices?', 11 percent of the private supermarkets customers said that they would continue to buy from the same chains even if they had to drive further. Only 8 percent of Supersol's and Blue Square's customers said the same, though Clubmarket's customers showed 11 percent loyalty.

Supersol's subsidiary chains include Hyperneto, Supersol and Cosmos, while Blue Square has the Co-Op, Super Center, and Mega brands.

Customers' preferences and loyalties seem to be in sharp contrast to the chains expenditures on advertising. The private chains tend not to spend at all on advertising while Supersol had the largest advertising budget of all. Food manufacturers advertising expenditures seem to be much more effective than those of the supermarket chains.

Food manufacturers have the highest loyalty as compared to supermarkets. When asked `What would you do if the store you shop in stopped selling Tnuva products?', 50 percent of those asked said that they would continue to buy the company's products, whether they moved all their purchases to another store (23 percent) or whether they only bought Tnuva products in a different store.

Elite's loyalty also was 50 percent, Osem showed 48 percent, Strauss 39 percent and Telma showed a loyalty level of 34 percent.

The survey also found that the loyalty to specific products was higher than that of the food manufacturers themselves. For example, Osem's Bamba brand snack showed a loyalty level of 58 percent, compared to the company's 48 percent. Elite's instant coffee rated a 57 percent, compared to the firm's own 50 percent rating. Other products with high ratings were Tnuva's cottage cheese at 56 percent and 50 percent for Strauss' Milky. Telma's cornflakes showed a 46 percent loyalty rating in the survey.