A study with 2,000 people from the US and UK by Edit, a customer data specialist, and Kin + Carta, a digital transformation consultancy, reveals that more than a quarter (27.4%) of consumers now show no brand loyalty at all.
Among the respondents, only 6% of consumers said they show loyalty to the ecommerce sector. Paradoxically, what we have seen in the last 2 years, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, was a significant increase in online shopping.
The pandemic has changed consumer behavior and accelerated several changes in the retail sector. So we need, more than ever, to be aware of the experience we are providing to our customers. Otherwise, we will end up losing strength in the market.
Repeat purchasing is not loyalty
In addition to purchase frequency, a company that establishes strong brand loyalty is able to ensure that its consumer trusts, engages, defends and recommends products and services. A strong bond is created between the brand and the customer that goes far beyond a purchase and a sales relationship.
Apple is a great example of a brand that, over the years, has built strong loyalty. Research shows that Apple has the most loyal smartphone customers in the US and that more than 90% of consumers say they intend to buy another iPhone. It’s a high percentage. And that doesn’t mean the competition is weak or that their products are inferior, but that Apple provides a complete customer experience and the brand positioning connects with its consumer.
The relationship is so strong that customers have stickers, shirts and even tattoos with the Apple logo! This also happens with Harley Davidson, for example – customers don’t just buy a motorcycle, they buy an experience of the brand’s culture and lifestyle.
There are other good examples of companies that do this well and, as a consequence, have high brand loyalty. You may have thought of Coca-Cola, Disney, Starbucks or others.
But, after all, how do we create brands that delight, engage and retain engaged customers?
Build real connections
How did Apple, Coca-Cola and Harley-Davidson create such strong loyalty and bonds? What do they have in common?
These brands sell much more than just the product or service itself. They sell nostalgia (Coca-Cola), innovation (Apple) or lifestyle (Harley Davidson). The entire communication and positioning strategy is built around what they believe in and that creates a deep connection with the consumer.
It may sound cliché to say it here, but the point is: do you want to create a memorable brand? You really need to start with the “why”. Clearly understand your brand’s purpose and how it creates a real connection with your audience’s needs and desires. What is your company’s reason for being? How does that differentiate you in the increasingly saturated market?
It is worth (re)watching the TED Talk “Start with Why”, by Simon Sinek.
Focus on the customer experience
OK! We know it is essential to have a well-defined purpose, to have clarity about how it connects with the public and, from that, to develop an organizational strategy.
But what the research reveals is that “brand affinity through emotional connection has weakened, to be replaced with habitual ties based on lived and related experience with brands and retailers.”
In this scenario where brand loyalty is losing strength and creating deep connections loses space to the rapid volatility of the market and purchase opportunities, providing positive customer experiences becomes crucial.
The customer’s experience is defined by the interactions they have with your brand – be it direct or indirect. To ensure a good customer experience, the first step is to have a holistic and complete view of the entire customer journey (before, during and after the purchase).
As much as we’ve been talking about it for years, in practice it’s still not that widespread: according to another survey by Kin + Carta, more than half of all companies (55%) do not have a single, complete view of all customer interactions.
The lack of this knowledge creates an disconnected and friction-filled experience
It is essential to map the points of interaction the consumer has with your brand and, from there, think of improvements to ensure the experience is beneficial for your customer. It should be based on what makes sense for them (here, it is worth mentioning the importance of knowing your ideal customer, their behaviors and needs in depth).
Take the time and effort to look at your customer’s journey with your company. Understand every touchpoint and interaction. Reduce customer efforts. And finally, develop a fluid and connected journey.
Use data intelligently and strategically
Whether mapping the journey, understanding your purpose or identifying your ideal customer, data is essential to obtain better results and more assertive decisions.
Collect data from your CRM, interview employees, connect with customers, and analyze feedback received.
And don’t forget to focus on what really matters.
In a reality where we are collecting and receiving data all the time, it is necessary to be clear about what will be analyzed and what this data says. What’s behind so many numbers?
Real data, connected with a broad understanding of what they represent (in a humanized perspective), should guide your strategy.
Think about Customer Loyalty programs
Creating a Customer Loyalty program that offers incentives, such as benefits and discounts, to customers can also help your customer’s loyalty process.
According to respondents to the study, one of the factors that would likely increase loyalty to a retailer would be being rewarded.
But remember: there is no loyalty program that can sustain a bad customer experience.
With so many changes in consumer behavior, focusing on experience is still a crucial factor in retaining and delighting customers. Everything needs to be connected within the customer journey: the brand’s purpose, all interactions, the shopping experience, and loyalty programs.
By creating a linear and fluid experience, you guarantee a loyal customer.
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