Brand loyalty in a fast-paced digital world
Superior product quality was all it took to secure brand loyalty in the 1950s. Quality improved across the board and companies were forced to differentiate through advertising, promotions and loyalty programmes. Today, digital disruption is eroding brand loyalty across industries.
Companies might not like the flood of new competitors but customers want options and expect nothing less than excellence. Modern-day brand loyalty demands a customer-first mindset. They want you to be where they’re at with relevant solutions. With no shortage of choice, companies have to rethink brand loyalty and consumer behaviour.
A few brands still command unwavering brand loyalty. Google has cemented itself into every area of life, while Amazon uses personal data and purchase histories to offer superior service. Between Android and iOS, the mobile market has become a two-horse race. Apple’s cult following has captured the hearts of customers with emotive brand values. Brand loyalty and customer retention matters greatly to businesses. To customers, however, loyalty matters very little if it offers no direct benefit.
Customer behaviour 2.0
Generational experiences have an impact on brand loyalty. The willingness and buying power of customers are becoming restricted as more competitors enter the market. This makes it increasingly difficult for brands to be seen. Major trends are also reframing customer expectations about surviving and thriving in the world. Millennials believe that blind loyalty keeps them from exploring better alternatives and, instead of avoiding change, they have embraced it at an accelerated pace.
With more options and research tools than ever before, customer churn is fuelled by negative reviews, poorly designed websites, data leaks and breaches, underwhelming service experiences and a lack of timely sales and promotional offers. Millennials want brands to work harder for their loyalty but will jump ship when there’s a change in their financial situation, when prices increase, and when more attractive brands become available.
Brand loyalty 2.0
To build brand loyalty and an engaged community, brands need to find the common thread that connects their customers – something they’re truly passionate about – ultimately offering customers a valuable experience over short-term benefits. More than ever, brands have to listen to their customers through Big Data, given that the levelling playing field requires businesses to differentiate and add value in compelling ways.
The Spur Group, for example, has a palpable commitment to hospitality and service excellence across outlets. Good service can be hard to come by, which makes it a legitimate point of difference. Uber revolutionised personal transportation and disrupted public transport through a simple trusted app. Since its launch in 2010, it has completed more than two billion rides globally.
New products and features are launched at breakneck speeds with no complete assurance that they’ll be available in the near future. There’s no denying that a particular brand, platform or app will have better features than others. But to link these features to a brand indefinitely and to expect brand loyalty, is not sensible. Trust, however, is timeless and will always make or break a brand.
Here are five principles to build trust and brand loyalty in the digital age.
- Be transparent: Be open and honest in what you do
- Be simple: Your brand needs to be simple, intuitive and immediate
- Be consistent: Not just in approach but in execution
- Be indispensable: Add value your customers can’t live without
- Be familiar: Be the brand your customers want to associate with and recommend to others
Brand loyalty is not dead, as many believe, but has evolved into a force that drives healthy competition and lays substandard products to rest. Ask yourself: What value does your brand add to deserve customer loyalty in the digital age?