Brand Loyalty – What and Why?

Ever wondered why some brands have a set of devoted customers who stay loyal to their products, even across their various brand extensions? It’s because these customers are emotionally connected with the brand and aren’t swayed by competitors’ promotional offers or marketing tactics. Loyal customers can also develop into organic brand ambassadors that promote their favorite products via social media and within their family and friends network.

So what exactly is Brand Loyalty and why is everyone talking about it?

Brand loyalty is a customer’s preference towards a certain brand or product that results in a consistent purchase pattern. The consumer associates with the brand on an emotional level, thereby subconsciously committing to the brand and its products. A true brand devotee is a creature of habit and specific preference. Their purchase decision is not determined by convenience, but rather by strong, emotionally triggered adjudications. This is precisely why companies invest heavily to create engaging brand loyalty campaigns that not only drive sales, but also create a strong brand identity in the market. Cult corporations like Amazon, Starbucks, and Apple, among others, have been strategically harnessing the power of well-planned, effective brand loyalty campaigns and have since created a strong following over the years. Cosmetic industry giants Sephora and Ulta have the most popular brand loyalty programs in the beauty industry. Sephora’s program offers exclusive discounts, early access to certain products, and store credit. Strategies like these engage the consumer and ensure repeat purchases. Similarly, Ulta’s Ultamate Beauty Program grants bonus points to customers on every purchase along with other loyalty benefits, which considerably boosted their e-commerce sales volume in Q1, according to Emily Collins, Interim Research Director at Forrester.

Why do brands need to invest in viable brand loyalty strategies?

For a brand to sustain itself in this highly competitive era, focusing only on customer acquisition will simply not suffice. To retain customers is equally important, if not more! Customer retention is comparatively cost-efficient and more beneficial in the long run than customer acquisition.

Not only do loyal customers drive sales through their repeat purchases, they also play a key role in determining the brand’s long-term success. They are also less likely to be influenced by a competitor’s marketing strategies and are bound to stay loyal to the brand. According to HubSpot, 93% of customers are brand loyalists and stick to purchasing from a certain brand over its competitors. A study by Brand Keys, a global research-based consultancy, explains that boosting brand loyalty among the average consumer by just 7% can hike up lifetime profits per customer by approximately 85%.

Investing in engaging brand loyalty strategies has proven to be a powerful brand-building activity that creates a positive brand image, increases brand value through word-of-mouth publicity, and even helps in organic customer acquisition.

Choosing the right fit for your brand

To create custom brand loyalty campaigns, you must first evaluate your brand and its perceived image in the market. Then make a thorough study of your target audience, correlating to their relationship with your brand. There are various factors that influence brand loyalty among consumers like social status, nostalgia, trust, brand values, and customer psychology.

Once you have analyzed your brand and target audience, you can choose from a variety of customer loyalty programs such as a referral system, membership program, coupon system, and subscription-based programs. You can also create custom programs or create a hybrid program of two or more loyalty programs. At the end of the day, the brand needs to create a strategy that is sustainable, effective, and creates a positive association between the brand and its consumers.

An intelligent consumer wants to invest his money in something he trusts, can relate to, finds comfort in, and is glad to be associated with; this is where brand loyalty comes into play. Like great empires, brand loyalty cannot be built in a day. It requires consistent effort, genuine appreciation of the customers who patron your stores or services, and strong brand loyalty strategies that will create a niche for the brand in the long run.

 
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