In today’s economy, creating brand loyalty that lasts despite competition is a formidable task. The modern consumer has millions of options, all of which can be accessed at their own convenience with their mobile device. With the increase of options and loyalty rewards programs, statistics are showing that even your loyal members will likely shop around. For instance, while 82% of US adults are loyal to brands, 54% reported switching brands in the past year, with only 13% reporting that they do not shop around if they are loyal to a company.
The modern consumer also expects brand loyalty to be reciprocal. In a recent market survey, 63% of consumers agree that brands must show loyalty to their consumers. However, having a rewards program that encourages loyalty is no longer sufficient for maintaining customers. To create sustainable brand loyalty, it is important for brands to appeal to the consumers on an emotional level. The most successful modern companies have used these four key values in their loyalty programs: compassion, respect, nostalgia and corporate social responsibility.
An act of compassion is both memorable and moving. A simple act of kindness or a compassionate staff member can turn an angry, frustrated customer into one of your company’s biggest advocates. According to a study by Accenture, 81% of customers are loyal to companies that are there for them when needed, while as many as 50% have switched brands due to a poor customer experience. Training your sales staff to act with compassion towards customers that are rude is key to creating an increase in happy, satisfied clients. On a larger scale, empathizing with consumers is one of the keys to effective marketing. For instance, 51% of consumers are loyal to brands that consistently offer the best products and services. However, while 80% of executives feel that they understand the needs of their consumers, only 15% of consumers agree.
Consumers desire respect from their brands, and, for many, this also means brand honesty. Studies show that 42% of consumers distrust brands, while 70% distrust advertisements. This is in part due to brand arrogance, and in part due to the spread of “fake news,” which has caused consumers to lose trust in the media in general. Building trust through respect, while challenging, is critical to consumer loyalty. There are several key ways that brands can show respect, and thereby build trust:
Nostalgia is a powerful human emotion that also has a potent potential influence on buyers. If your brand happens to have a long history, bringing back something from the past as part of a modern campaign can help draw consumers to your product. If you are a relatively new business, creating a strong, relatable story around your brand is also helpful.
Customers want their brands to reflect their personal beliefs. In fact, 89% of Americans in 2017 reported that they are loyal to brands that share their values. Social responsibility expands beyond the marketplace and into the community. This can mean engaging in charity events or supporting charity organizations. 35% of U.S. consumers reported loyalty to brands that actively support important causes such as public campaigns or charities. Meanwhile, 79% of Gen Z shoppers reported that they wanted to engage with a brand that will help them make a difference. There are many ways to get involved in social responsibility as a company. While some companies sponsor events or charities, others may decide to give their own employees paid time off to pursue volunteer efforts.
Recognizing and utilizing the effects of human emotions can help in creating brand loyalty, while also helping you avoid common reputation pitfalls.