Once upon a time, brand loyalty was awarded to brands with the best products. These brands offered the best quality, so the majority of consumers bought their products, again and again.
Fast-forward to the modern-day, and brand loyalty demands more than high-quality products (or services). How brands earn loyalty has changed dramatically, and there is more pressure to meet new and expanding consumer expectations.
While this is undoubtedly a challenge for many of today’s brands, it also means brands have the opportunity to make improvements to set them apart from competitors. For those brands that do earn loyalty, it means consumers will be more likely to continue buying from them. They are also more likely to try new products or services in the future.
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Here is a look at what brand loyalty means for modern consumers.
Good Vibes Only
Today’s consumers want to feel positive about the brands they use. While this particular notion isn’t different from the past (consumers have typically made purchases based on positive emotions), how consumers experience good feelings with brands have changed.
For example, did you know that a third of millennials retract their brand loyalty if a brand is found to have poor business practices? On the flip side, the majority of consumers say they would purchase products from brands that have a purpose.
The bottom line is, consumers, give their loyalty to brands that make them feel good.
Let’s look at some of the ways brands can positively impact consumer emotions and earn consumer loyalty.
Brands that successfully meet the expectations of consumers are more likely to earn brand loyalty.
Not every brand’s customers have the same expectations.
To meet the specific needs and wants of buyers, brands have to understand their audience – primarily what drives them to make purchases, what are their pain points, and what makes their lives easier.
For some consumers, online ordering and free delivery are the winning combinations. For others, it might take exemplary customer services, particularly when responding to negative experiences. Special offers and discounts could be the key, or simply a brand’s business culture is the most appealing. At times, it could be a combination of needs and wants that needs to be met.
Meeting consumer expectations sounds obvious, but some brands fail to achieve it, usually because they don’t have a real understanding of their buyers or the expectations of those buyers. Brands that spend time on research and analysis are the ones checking their customers’ boxes and earning loyalty awards.
Consumers are more likely to be loyal to brands when they are connected to them. Similar to expectations, not every consumer connects with brands in the same way. To make things more complicated, consumers of the same brand probably don’t all connect alike. Because every buyer is different from other buyers, they likely establish connections with brands differently, too.
For example, let’s look at Peet’s Coffee, a U.S.-based coffee chain. In addition to their physical coffee shops, they have a significant online presence, including a website, social media, and a mobile app. Customers who use the app (affectionately known as Peetniks) receive special app-only offers and earn rewards toward a free coffee. Not only does this help Peet’s connect with customers who spend time on mobile devices, but it also helps them make the communication more personal by learning how these users interact with the app.
Of course, not all Peet’s customers use the app, so it establishes connections in other meaningful ways, like sharing their business beliefs and offering fun, in-store events (sometimes with free coffee).
Brands that have an understanding of their audience segments have the advantage: they can build connections with them based on their unique preferences and behaviors (also known as personalization).
Finally, one of the best – and arguably most important – ways that brands can help consumers feel good is by simply being authentic.
Modern consumers want to know what’s behind the brand, which always translates to the fact that they want to know about the people behind the brand. Who are they? What do they believe? Is it something the consumer aligns with?
There are many ways for businesses to be more personal with their customers, and it not only helps consumers experience positive emotions associated with the brand; it also builds trust and confidence in the brand and helps earn the loyalty of consumers.
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It might seem like brand loyalty is elusive these days, but modern consumers still want brands to engage and win them over. Brands that invest the time and have the tenacity to deliver more personalized communications are better equipped to meet expectations, build connections, and provide authentic experiences. It’s an excellent way to do business and, some might argue, the only way to do business.
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