Are we still brand loyal?

Zoe Pedersen - Head of Commercial Services

You’re either BMW or Audi…adidas or Nike...Waitrose or M&S...colgate or OralB.

We have our brand preferences in almost every sphere of life but how routed are those preferences now? 

An average person spends 40 minutes a day on YouTube, 35 minutes on Facebook, 15 minutes on Instagram, a minute on Twitter. And they’re not just hitting the like button...they’re actively shopping too.

In today’s influencer-social-youtube-digital world, are we really brand loyal anymore? When we can share a negative review at the click of a mouse, how ruthless and unforgiving to our previously loved brands are we?

Thanks to Google and social media, today’s customer is self-sold. They’ve done their own research online, they’ve compared brands, they’ve sought opinions and not just from friends or family, but from the online voices of bloggers, vloggers, instagrammers.

It used to be you would book your holiday at a hotel you trusted or knew...or perhaps it was a given that you would just return to the same hotel you stayed at last year. Today, Tripadvisor, Booking.com are the engines that determine where you will go for that sun holiday or bank holiday weekend.

We can sort and narrow our searches based on ratings, reviews and how many stars other people have offered. So, in that competitive best-vote-wins world, how do brands form and more importantly, retain a relationship with their audience?

Brand’s have to truly understand and build their marketing and communications strategies around the concept of experience and engagement.

One negative experience can lose a loyal customer in a flash and you don’t only lose them, they go onto tell all their socially connected friends, family, random online strangers and you will battle to ever get them back. Customer experience holds the key to whether or not a brand wins and keeps or loses its customers. 

Modern experience lead marketing is a subtle mix of omnichannel messaging, emotion, targeting, personalisation and customisation to an audience. Brands are expected to offer, not just product or service but an opportunity to connect, engage and have to find new ways to capture interest, to sustain that interest despite the abundance of choices available to today’s consumer.

The meteoric rise of social media, and the influencer marketer that has risen along with it, has broken down the brand loyalty landscape and reformed it to one that revolves around connection, experience and emotion. 

Consumers demand and deserve that 2-way relationship with brands.

Consumers want to know their brands and they expect brands to know them in return. They want to have their emotional needs and views understood and acknowledged and they want the marketing, advertising and messaging to feel personal.

Most of all perhaps, consumers want to feel good about the purchases they make.

Starbucks is an example of a brand tackling this emotive-lead human approach from the inside out. Their mission statement: “to inspire and nurture the human spirit - one person, one cup and one neighbourhood at a time”.

They’ve translated that mission into their corporate responsibility programmes: “Bringing people together, helping provide education and employment opportunities and making a difference in people's lives – it's all part of being a good neighbor and a sustainable company. Starbucks, even as a public company, has always believed that we can balance profitability and a social conscience.” 

Doesn’t sound like they are just selling coffee. 

They followed this ethos through in their digital applications. Their app is seamless, interactive and offers a loyalty experience. The brand can now deliver offers, accept mobile purchases, build relationships and reward their loyal coffee neighbours. Early in 2019, Starbucks were attributing nearly 30% of all sales through the app and hailed it as helping to increase overall revenue by 12%.

Brands are not developing their marketing in this experience and engagement space for the warm fuzzies. There is measurable bottom-line positive impact to the approach. By incentivising the desired loyal customer behaviour, Starbucks are gathering a wealth of data on their individual customers and they are using it to drive personalised, customised marketing strategies. 

The brand has seen the beneficial results of pursuing a customer engagement and experience strategy and are reaping the revenue and profit growth that has come with it.

So, are we brand loyal today? Do we still form relationships with our brands? 

We do, but only when that brand is as committed to the relationship as we are...only when they offer value beyond their product and service.

Today’s organisations need to truly understand and analyse what the relationship looks like between their own brand and their individual customers. That kind of brand work takes investment and some critical review but the benefit of an empathetic, experience and engagement lead strategy will ensure brand loyal customers, new audience connections and revenue growth.

Are you considering your own brand strategy?

Does your brand stand out?

Could you differentiate more from your competition?

How are you working to increase your customer retention and bring in those new brand advocates?

Get in touch and start understanding how to build engagement and experience into your brand strategy.