What Influences Brand Loyalty?
Brand loyalty isn’t something that develops overnight. Some consumers are just looking for a specific product or service without any real preference for the brand. This isn’t to say that some consumers won’t actually gravitate towards one brand or another. In fact, millennials, the 18-34 years olds most advertisers and marketers target, are said to be the most brand loyal generation yet. Of course, there are several benefits to encouraging consumer loyalty.
But how do you get to the point where you are routinely inspiring customers to choose you over other businesses offering the same thing? Take a moment to consider the importance of the following brand loyalty influences.
Consumer loyalty can be influenced by products or businesses that have established reputations. These are brands that consumers have always had a generally good experience with, so they feel no need to change. Even if a switch is made to another brand because an appealing offer was made, loyal customers are likely to come back to the brands they perceive as dependable.
Dependable brands are the ones consumers automatically feel comfortable with. There’s trust because of previous positive experiences with the products and/or services offered. Such brands may not offer the cheapest products or services, but that’s not the main deciding factor for every consumer.
Brands usually considered dependable are one that:
- Are well-known and well-established (e.g., Coca-Cola, Folgers, Band-Aid, Pepsi, Apple, Disney)
- Have some nostalgic appeal (favourite detergents, Betty Crocker products, etc.)
- Are established local businesses with a good reputation throughout the area (car dealerships, contractors, regional supermarkets, etc.)
- Are perceived as being easily accessible and easy to use (e.g., Netflix, Microsoft products)
Price may influence some buying actions, but quality is one of the consistent drivers of brand loyalty. Quality basically means that a brand is seen as being better than others. This may include a perception of being better because something is offered that competitors don’t offer or because customer service is better.
For instance, you can have two companies that offer the same exact service, but if customers find it a lot easier to get a hold of a real person and get their problems resolved faster with the second company, they’re likely to view that business as being the better quality one. Therefore, customers are more likely to be loyal to company two.
As with dependability, quality doesn’t always mean that a brand is offering the lowest price. Some consumers don’t mind paying a little more if whatever they’re getting is going to last or provide long-term value.
Quality can be established by:
- Having positive customer reviews online
- Doing follow-ups with customers to determine what kind of experience they had
- Delivering what was promised in product or service descriptions
Engaging Social Media Content
Some studies on brand loyalty influences suggest that dependability and quality are usually the main drivers of loyalty. What most customers want is a good experience above anything else. Wouldn’t you agree? Yet online content can still be impactful, especially social media. Loyalty can be established with active social media engagement because it’s where you can interact directly with consumers.
The impact of social media can vary based on the nature of a business. Some consumers care more about dependability and quality and not so much about what a brand is tweeting, pinning, or posting. Yet there are plenty of examples of brands that have had massively successful social media campaigns that have done wonders for their brand image.
Any type of online content, whether it’s in the form of blog or social media posts, website content, or email newsletters, has the potential to encourage loyalty with a brand. With online content, you have an opportunity to clarify and deliver your brand’s message across multiple platforms. This can be especially effective since most consumers today interact with their preferred brands on mobile devices, so any online content specific to your brand has the potential to influence someone.
Lighter Emotional Connections
In some instances, emotional connections can rank just as high as other drivers of brand loyalty like dependability and quality. The reason is because consumers are more likely to keep coming back to brands that make them feel something. Lighter emotional connections (LEC), in particular, can be effective since people have a tendency to want to be happy.
Brands often inspire happiness by:
- Telling positive stories online
- Sharing short humorous or “feel good” videos
- Posting fun facts or quick daily tips
- Having a generally light, happy tone in their advertising
- Giving away small prizes as part of fun contests (e.g., 10% off next order for best summer beach pics posted on a brand’s social media page)
Heavy Emotional Connections
One of the big drivers of brand loyalty for millennials is effective storytelling. These heavy emotional connections (HEC) can make consumers feel inspired by a brand. Stories can be in the form of real customer experiences or even video posts from the people behind a brand sharing what goes on behind scenes. When it comes to creating emotional connections, the brands that truly get it – know their consumer demographics inside and out. This gives brands the ability to always be marketing to the right age demographic accordingly.
Brand Purpose Beyond Selling
Consumers also want brands with a purpose beyond simply selling.
An example of this is brands that make an effort to be environmentally friendly by emphasizing this fact throughout their content or sponsoring community clean-up efforts. Many of today’s top brands have adopted some type of purpose to better connect with consumers. Dove promotes inner beauty and self-esteem. Panera Bread focuses on “building communities” and encourages involvement.
The purpose doesn’t necessarily need to be some redeeming social cause, just as long as there is a clear purpose. Subway promotes healthy fast food, while Nintendo highlights how its games can encourage family togetherness. Coca-Cola simply promotes happiness as its main brand purpose.
Brand Loyalty Has Many Levels
Consumer loyalty is something that is earned by delivering a consistent message and doing everything possible to create positive customer experiences. It will take some time to see results, but there are many positive steps you can take to inspire brand loyalty.
A good starting point is to identify the brand loyalty influences that work best for your business. If, for example, you offer additional services your competitors don’t offer, highlight that fact and emphasize it by encouraging customers to leave comments. And continue to engage with your audience to determine what you’re doing right and identify areas where you can make some improvements.
Ultimately, establishing and maintaining loyalty will be an ongoing effort, but it can definitely result in many positive long-term benefits for your brand.
If you need some help fine-tuning your brand’s message or establishing loyalty, we’re here for you. Contact GILL Solutions Management today to learn more about our services