Below is an excerpt from ANA Marketing’s The Five Drivers to Creating and Maintaining Brand Loyalty. Visit the ANA Marketing web site to read this post in its entirety. To discover more tips on using social media to build your brand, register for the ANA’s course on The Art and Science of Brand Building that begins on April 18, 2011 in New York, NY.
Cheryl Riina, independent consultant, discussed the five drivers to creating and maintaining brand loyalty. Riina stated that 80% of business comes from 20% of customers, as brand loyalists are committed “true believers.” Technology has revolutionized the way we do business. Resulting from the combination of a radically transformed marketplace, revolutionized communication, and the challenging economic environment, we now have a “more experienced, more demanding, harder-to-please, and tech savvier consumer.” Given the challenges, one might assume that brand loyalty is a phenomenon of the past, but customers want to be loyal because they save time and simplify their lives with loyalty. Brand loyalty creates many benefits for a company, including the following:
Less price sensitive customers;
Reduction of costs and increased profitability/financial rewards;
Barriers to entry for competitors;
Greater forgiveness of mistakes;
Greater lifetime value.
1. Brand Awareness:
To create brand loyalty, consumers must first be aware that your brand exists. Explain what the brand is, what it does, and where it can be accessed. Brand recognition and brand recall require top-of-mind awareness, which is the ability of consumers to name your brand first. Getting your name into the vernacular is very important to gaining awareness, and many brands have achieved becoming the generic name for products (such as Kleenex, Q-tips, Saran Wrap, FedEx, Xerox, Scotch, Band Aid, and Google).
2. Relevant differentiation:
Once consumers are aware of your brand, they need to understand what makes you unique. Make a brand promise that is positive and engaging. Promoting the Unique Selling Propositions (USP’s) of brands differentiates them from the others. Examples include “M&M’s: Melts in your mouth, not in your hands,” and Disney as being synonymous with “family fun.” Also keep in mind that evolution is a natural part of a brands life. Brands must evolve with the times, with technology, and changing lifestyles (Riina cites the example of Apple creating trends, instead of chasing them). The ability to evolve differentiates one brand from the rest.
3. Perceived value:
Customers must have the perception that you are delivering a good value for the price. When examining the total cost vs. total value, remember that perceived value is not a price-point issue for the consumer. There is also a lot of value in the customization or personalization of products (such as “create your own” items like Nike sneakers) because they can be tailored to meet specific consumer needs.
Availability is highly important. Be sure to consider all of the following: convenience, simplicity, creativity, flexibility, distribution channels available, location, hours of operation, and inventory management. Additionally, think of your availability as a product in a customer-centric way. You want to know when they shop, where they shop, how they shop, and what they’re going to do while they wait (such as waiting in line and browsing magazines to buy). Multi-tasking is huge right now, and you must consider it.
5. Emotional Connections:
Emotional connections are the fundamental building blocks to establishing relationships with consumers and maintaining brand loyalty. They are powerful and profitable, and they are significant for all brands and categories (at all price points and levels of involvement). Riina discussed how the “4 P’s” of the marketing mix are now the “5 P’s”: product, price, place, promotion, and people. Consumer relationships must be developed and nurtured through active, ongoing, 1-on-1 engagement to develop trust. Reinforce this relationship at every touch point (especially customer service), and think about how your brand makes people feel.
Key points to consider when combining the five drivers of brand loyalty:
Focus: know your brand, know your audience.
Commitment: there must be a companywide commitment to the brand promise and to your consumer.
Authenticity: consumers seek it, and they will know if you are authentic.
Integration: one voice; stand together.
Consistency: total brand experience must be enforced at every touch point.
Communication: instead of speaking at customers, engage in relevant dialogues that promote engagement and feedback.
Understanding: know the wants, needs, relationships, and expectations of your consumer.
Collaboration: interactivity is key, make them part of the process, reward partnerships.
Evolution: technological innovation is critical; stay in front of the curve and work to make your customers lives better.
Passion: inspire and motivate from the inside to make the brand something that others are passionate about.