In the good old days, there was less competition for customer’s attention and for their loyalty to the brand. With fewer brands in competition, it was easier for marketers to keep both the attention and loyalty of their customers; this brand loyalty was often strong and long lasting, you might even say a little blind.
A long-standing, household name is a difficult habit to break, and as marketing evolved and modernised, it became more and more possible for brands to interact with consumers in new ways to strengthen this loyalty. Logically this should mean that brand loyalty is now stronger than ever, however, the supposed decline in brand loyalty has been a hot topic of discussion over the last couple of years. So what is the truth? Are we actually less loyal now that we once were or has brand loyalty just evolved?
With so many factors to explore, we need to consider that consumers now have so many more options in terms of brands to connect with and more knowledge about their brand choices before they make their decisions.
We all know the power of peer reviews, of word of mouth, this is one thing which has not changed so much; if the brand is good enough for your family and your friends, it’s likely that it’s going to be a possible choice for you too. What has changed here is the monopoly in many markets. As there is less likely to be one company dominating one market, family and friends will likely have different brands to recommend, different peer reviews to consider.
Our emotional connections with brands appear as strong if not stronger as we become passionate about sustainability and caring for our bodies and planet, human rights etc. If a brand speaks to us on a level which we connect with, sharing views about something which we are passionate about, this bonds us to a brand more deeply. The experience element in a brand relationship is also a huge determining factor, experience and customer care are valued highly by consumers, who want to know that their custom is valued.
Upping The Ante
Over the years, brands began loyalty campaigns such as loyalty cards and events, which are still going strong, just think of Tesco Clubcard, Boots Advantage Cards and your favourite coffee shop. However, customers are a little sceptical of signing up to loyalty schemes and also expect more from their favourite brands, and with increased platforms and opportunities for interaction, such as social media, if brands want to develop that bond, they need to up their game. Sharing user content is a great way to build emotional relationships and directly connect users to the brand. The approach needs to be holistic one which builds engagement, investment and retains; one that applies discounts, rewards, connections, and emotional gain, as we have discussed, from interacting with the brand.
Are We Actually Less Loyal?
Ultimately we appear to be more ‘loyal’ and more invested in brand relationships but these loyalties can be changed more quickly.
While we think of loyalty being long-standing, the connections consumers forge with brands are deeper but they are less forgiving should mistakes be made, customer service fall short or scandal break lose. In addition to this, the plethora of alternative, all too often, similar brands make it easy for heads to be turned by an offer or initiative of competitors; in this case, it may not end our loyalty to the original brand but perhaps weaken it. In 2019 we are actually capable of being more loyal to more brands at the same time.