ttec: How to win brand loyalty in an Age of Choice
Guest post from TRB event partner ttec
It’s unquestionable that brand loyalty has suffered at a time when consumers have a multitude of product choices—but it’s hardly dead. A recent study by the research firm Brand Keys which surveyed more than 62,000 consumers between the ages of 16 and 65 on their emotional and rational ties to brands, found that brand loyalty increased on average 20 percent from 2019 to 2020 across B2C, B2B, and D2C categories.
Brand loyalty “has evolved in a more complex marketplace with more sophisticated consumers,” noted Brand Keys President Robert Passikoff in a statement. “Two decades into the 21st century the world has more complex brand and mediascapes. It’s more data-rich and technologically-intensive. Consumers are more complex, connected, and complicated. They connect with each other before even considering connecting to a brand and assess loyalty relative to how they envision an ‘ideal’ brand.”
Customer emotions and meeting expectations are key
Customer retention, premium pricing opportunities, and higher sales volumes continue to be important aspects of brand loyalty. But traditional approaches to brand loyalty no longer work. Slick advertising and new product features are not enough to capture consumers, and getting existing customers to stick around is more challenging than it has ever been.
Meanwhile, Brand Keys’ findings are in line with other studies. About 90 percent of consumers said they’re equally or more brand loyal than they were a year ago, reported a 2019 survey from e-commerce marketing platform Yotpo. Sixty-one percent of respondents said they’re loyal to up to five brands, while 26.2 percent said they are loyal to six to 10 brands.
So, what does drive increased brand loyalty? For several years now, analysts and industry experts have been beating the proverbial drum that the key to loyalty lies in evoking the right emotions and meeting customer expectations. “We found that emotion, how an experience makes the customer feel, has a bigger influence on their loyalty to a brand than either [effectiveness or ease] wrote then-Forrester analyst Megan Burns in 2015. “The most effective way to maximize customer value is to move beyond mere customer satisfaction and connect with customers at an emotional level,” according to a 2016 Harvard Business Review article.
We can see this trend reflected in companies that are reinventing their loyalty programs, replacing transactional perks with experiential marketing to forge an emotional connection with customers. In 2019, Gartner found that 78 percent of loyalty programs offered experiential rewards such as birthday perks and event invitations, compared to 61 percent the year prior.
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