What is brand loyalty?
My grandmother was a creative and talented baker. When it came to her baking equipment she was loyal to one brand, and could not hear (let alone utter herself) a negative word about them. Throughout the late 1960s and 1970s she collected every piece she could to go with her Kenwood Chef stand mixer, the mixer itself was an expensive investment but she saved up every penny she could to afford it – the gold standard in kitchen wares.
While as a family we sometimes chuckle at my grandmother’s Mrs Bucket mannerisms and occasional ill-founded snobbery. The same Kenwood Chef mixer that she swore was God’s gift and inspired a lifetime of Kenwood purchases, today 50 years since it was first purchased sits in my kitchen and is pulled out for bread making and sweet treat baking regularly.
I know personally if I had to purchase a new mixer or small kitchen appliance my first instinct would be to check the Kenwood website. This, in essence, is what brand loyalty looks like, the desire of a consumer to only ever purchase one brand’s product over their competitors. This is the same reason my family are a strictly Lyon’s tea household and the same reason there is a constant tension between iPhone users and Android users.
In the 1960s, Kenwood mixers were built to last, today they come with a 1-5 year guarantee. This is a direct product of consumer culture, we love to buy and we love new things, so to make more money brands make sure we need to buy their new things more often. However, is this consumer culture killing brand loyalty? People hate to feel like they’re getting ripped off or missing out on a good deal or new product, so when they have an appliance that needs replacing or a service that needs renewing they shop around. Heightened consumerism means more business in general but it also means a higher chance of losing business to competitors and a drop in brand loyalty.
Brand loyalty is not dead but it is subject to price comparison websites and increased competition. It is definitely a much trickier task to hang on to the same customers in a fluctuating market, but take some tips from brands who are managing just that to improve your brand loyalty standing.
One of the clearest examples of a modern brand with devout customers. In a 2017 study iPhone’s were shown to have a 92% customer retention rate. So what makes them stick?
Apple is known for their quality products, aesthetic design, customer support and connectability. Many Apple customers will have not only an iPhone but also an iPad and a MacBook, and the reason stated by most is that the ease of file transfer and data between devices makes Apple worth the investment.
There is also a certain lifestyle associated with Apple as a brand which attracts a broad customer base, which allows them to vary their PR and marketing strategies to target different audiences.
So what can you take from this for your brand?
Apple have the corner on a niche market, but there are still elements of their business model you can adapt to suit your needs.
Keep your customers in focus with dedicated customer support services.
Make sure the option to stay with your brand is the easiest and most sensible option for your customer.
Figure out who your audience is and target your PR and marketing in that direction.
Someone tells you they’re going to order a pizza and chances are your mind jumps straight to Domino’s. The pizza chain is highly successful with repeat customers all over the world, however, when you get down to it their product isn’t really any better than Pizza Hut, Apache or their other competitors. So what’s the secret?
Fast delivery times. People don’t like to wait, Domino’s pizza has a target delivery time of 30 minutes or less from the time of order to time of delivery. No matter what your product is, ensure you operate an efficient and timely service.
Make sure your product is the first one that comes to mind when someone mentions your industry. Do this with striking marketing campaigns and quality branding design on top of a reliable product.
You’re never going to hang on to each and every one of your customers, these days people love to switch things up and move around. Don’t fret, the above examples may not work for all, but if you are offering a quality product and attracting new customers you can and will do really well.
Brand loyalty is not an ancient myth, it exists among us but the world is changing and the word ‘loyal’ is changing significantly. Loyalty from long-standing customers while valuable is no longer the most important thing, what is important, however, is maintaining a quality product, a strong brand story and presence.