How experience governs brand loyalty

Guest post by Rob Quinn

Customer relationship management has been regarded as a necessary evil within the marketing industry to date, with agencies far more inclined to extol the virtues of their creative or digital departments.

But not anymore.  In a brave new post Covid-19 world, where every marketing executive understands that they need the power of data to secure business growth, and consumers are beyond the point of simply ‘discerning’ and veering into the realms of immunity to a sales pitch, CRM has finally come of age.

Not only do we need to build lasting relationships with our customers, we must decipher what it means to build brand loyalty to the point of ‘voluntary ambassadorship’.

The way to do that it seems is to prioritise the relationship and the very experience that sits around products and brands, essentially, how do you make your customers feel?

Emotion builds success

Working client relationships that are purely functional in nature are fragile, the moment a newer, shinier, or slightly more convenient model comes along, the current product or brand option is consigned to the ‘has been’ pile.

Thus, a well-integrated CRM system and process, using data derived from that system will enable the marketing departments to fashion emotionally investing campaigns and initiatives to suit your target demographics.

Brands are working to build their own relationships directly with customers to defend against the supremacy of the big retailers

Brands are now understanding the value in building emotional relationships with their consumers, building those connections means that the buyer has a vested interest in the company ethos, values, or system. This value driven ‘buy in’ from your consumers are exactly the type of relationships that are the most important driver of loyalty long term.

Once you have done the leg work of a CRM data-based campaign and made the leap to an emotional connection for your consumers, businesses should look to the creation of ‘end-to-end’ experiences for products and brands.

For your brand or product to win a long-term part in people’s lives, it is essential they offer must-have functionality with added-value service.

Create a great experience

Brands are starting to see real differences when addressing a consumer’s pain points; doubly so for those operating in price-sensitive, or highly commoditised areas, such as FMCG.

Brands are working to build their own relationships directly with customers to defend against the supremacy of the big retailers. These smaller, independent or start up companies are doing this by making sure the relationships they are building are based on an experience surrounding the product they’re selling.

It can be in small ways like handwritten notes in a package, free art postcards or even just beautiful packaging (let’s not forget the value of a really Instagram worthy unboxing video). Or it can be in bigger ways like Hello Fresh, Gusto or any of the meal prep/supplement businesses that have sprung up in recent years.

 would  The Werther’s Original campaign have been so successful if we didn’t already associate the sweet with our grandparents?

These companies directly address the problems of modern life by taking the effort out of measuring and storing food, for those with cash rich and time poor lives, and the  prices are more comparable to takeaways than supermarkets, meaning buyers can justify the purchase against time and health easily.

If you create a genuinely great experience, consumers won’t just be loyal to your brand, in fact they’ll happily pay more for it because the cost can always be justified if it makes someone’s life better or simpler.

As the globalisation of trade has continued apace consumers are getting more used to having what they want, when they want it, and expect that to be next day if possible. One of the retailers most responsible for this attitude is Amazon and its premium subscription service Prime, where for a yearly fee member scrap postage charges and often are able to procure things next day delivery or same day delivery, it changed the face of retail forever.

A product or service line they introduced in 2015 is Amazon Dash, where a literal button can be purchased and placed in the home to reorder ‘essential’ items, as of 2019 the buttons aren’t being supported anymore but a ‘virtual’ version still exists. Dash capitalises on the efficiency over cost principle as the button itself cost around £5 and the products themselves could often be found cheaper off of the Amazon platform.

An experiential marketing agency will often look to specifically create these physical, or since the advent of COVID-19, virtual, experiences that bolster the connection between brand, product and emotion. Whether that be with a sample tasting or testing of a product at an event.

Or something more elaborate like a Secret Cinema style immersive experience that attendees will have to participate in. These of course are the gold standard of experiential marketing campaigns but smaller measures are often as effective for the average customer.

Know your brand’s role

One key element that many brands don’t grasp is that one must understand the role your brand plays in people’s lives. Because utilising that way of thinking, that you as a brand play a role – much like a family member or friend, in a consumer’s life, is integral to how they will treat you. Find your USP, your brand tone of voice and your target demographic.

Because the way a product is marketed is as unique as a person, would for example, The Werther’s Original campaign have been so successful if we didn’t already associate the sweet with our grandparents?

That gentle voice over and the nod to nostalgia that the TV adverts evoked was incredibly successful for them (and still some 30 years later will elicit a smile from certain age groups)

Choose your role carefully and consider the efficacy of your message and tone of voice in relation to the target demographic you wish to address.

Coupled with a CRM data rich approach that under-stands how to nurture, evolve and grow individual relationships, this considered and bespoke campaign channel could help you build brand loyalty that not only lasts a lifetime but becomes a ‘family tradition’, the handing down of brand loyalty to younger generations based on the belief that a particular product is best due to use by a trusted adult.

Rob Quinn is Managing Director of WSA Communications

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