What is Brand Loyalty?
Let’s start with the short answer: Brand loyalty is the positive image and sense of trust that a customer associates with a brand. So, when a customer maintains their preference over a brand despite being exposed to deals, promos and services by another brand, that’s what we call brand loyalty. Sometimes the customer will see a better deal by a different brand, but they won’t risk trying it out. They’ll stick to the brand they know and trust. Sometimes they even go out of their way to access the products of that brand. So, creating brand loyalty is all about building that steadfast sense of trust and loyalty in customers so that they’re not tempted by other brands, no matter how attractive the offer is.
The age-old competition between Coca-Cola and Pepsi is a great example to explain how brand loyalty works. Over the years, Coca-Cola has built such a solid brand reputation and trust that Pepsi’s whole promotion efforts have been built on overcoming the customer loyalty to Coca-Cola. It’s safe to say that despite years of effort, Pepsi still hasn’t been able to achieve that goal. So, the example of Coca-Cola is the epitome of brand loyalty.
Of course, a customer-focused approach is key to achieving that kind of loyalty and trust. Take Amazon, for instance. Instead of focusing on ads and aggressive marketing strategies, Amazon simply focuses on “happy customers”. So, Amazon is first making sure to achieve customer satisfaction, which leads to a solid brand reputation, which consequently creates brand loyalty. The case of Amazon tells us that once customers are satisfied, solid reputation and loyalty follows. But what makes people “loyal” to a brand? It’s obvious that brands need it for profit, but what’s in it for customers? Why do they need that kind of trust and loyalty to prefer a brand over others? Well, it’s pretty simple. When a customer meets a brand that meet their needs and provides a consistent product quality, they don’t take the risk of trying out another brand. So, when they come across a brand that doesn’t disappoint, they stick to it.
The Evolution of Brand Loyalty Over Time
Given that there used to be less competition in the retail industry, the road to creating brand loyalty was pretty straightforward back in the day. Mass media and salespeople were the only means for customers to access information about brands, products and deals. So, creating brand loyalty required a “brand-oriented” approach. As long as brands maintained a certain level of quality and made sure they were well-represented, brand loyalty followed.
With the competitive retail ecosystem of today, things are more complicated. Customers have access to the internet, which means they can do detailed research, hear from other customers around the world and compare brands and services within seconds. That’s why the age-old brand-oriented approach doesn’t cut it anymore. Brands need to adopt a more “customer-oriented approach” to make sure that customers have nice things to say about their brand.
Creating Brand Loyalty in 3 Steps
Consistent product quality
When a customer knows that a brand provides consistent product quality, they don’t take the risk of trying something new. Loyalty is a two-way street, so brands need to be loyal to their commitment of ensuring consistency of quality if they want customer loyalty in return.
Impeccable customer service
The internet allows the customers to do detailed research about brands, but it also allows each customer to become a potential promoter or dissuader for a brand. Customer reviews and blogs are full of personal opinions and experiences about brands and products. So, making sure that each customer has access to a faultless customer service is key to ensure that they have good things to say about the brand. A constructive and solution-oriented approach is paramount for the customer services to be a success in gaining even those customers who have had a bad experience with the product they purchased.
Reliable brand ambassadors
Making sure that the brand is represented by reliable and well-respected people is also key for brand loyalty. That’s why brands are meticulous when it comes to picking the right celebrity for their promotion campaigns. Same goes for working with the right influencers, of course.