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What is brand loyalty? How to build it?

Meaning and Importance of Customer loyalty  and how to build it?

Brand and customer are two very important terms central to business management. Both these terms are important to understand the relationship between businesses and customers. This relationship takes the form of brand loyalty when it grows sufficiently deep and strong. In the simplest terms, brand loyalty can be understood as being loyal to a brand or buying repeatedly from it rather than the alternative brands. It is an important concept in marketing and most brands try to build brand loyalty because a higher number of brand loyal consumers is always good for a brand’s financial health.  In the 21st century, competition has grown highly intense and in such a scenario, it is difficult to gain commitment from the consumers. Being brand loyal is like being in a committed relationship with a brand. Sometimes, brand loyalty can grow to an extent that people even overlook the strong features of the other brands and continue buying from the one they are loyal to.

Companies use several strategies to build customer loyalty. From marketing strategies to pricing and product loyalty as well as the reputation of the brand all these can have an impact on the level of loyalty a brand enjoys. There are other factors too that shape consumer taste and perception and can impact their buying behavior. An example is technology. These factors too can affect brand loyalty and customers’ attitude towards any particular brand. While brand loyalty requires the brands to invest in several things, the benefits can also be large. Apart from having a direct impact on the bottom line and market share, releasing new products gets easier for the brands enjoying high level of brand loyalty.

While brand loyalty is difficult to build investing in it has distinct benefits and therefore businesses must invest in it. Apart from having to work less on customer retention, brand loyalty helps manage profitable business during times of economic turmoil. As already mentioned, there are several factors affecting brand loyalty. There are methods and techniques that businesses can use to build brand loyalty. Some of them are discussed below:

Brand loyalty depends on quality, so invest in quality: One important factor that attracts customers towards any specific brand is quality. Whatever be the situation, businesses must focus on keeping the quality of product high. Moreover, quality is related to pricing. So, customers expect good quality for the amount they are paying. A drop in quality can lead to customers immediately moving away to other brands. Maintain a high level of quality so that the customers can count upon you. There are several examples that the brands that have built very high level of customer loyalty have done so on the basis of quality. Whether, Apple, Starbucks or Nike, all the top brands in the market have invested in quality which has led to high level of customer loyalty. Keep your quality level consistent and the customers will keep coming back.

Customer satisfaction is key to customer loyalty: Customer satisfaction has become an essential focus for businesses in the 21st It is because technological development has led to increased competition. Apart from quality, you also need to complement your customer experience with additional factors. Overall, the focus has to be on generating highest customer satisfaction. If the customers are dissatisfied then they will very soon gravitate towards the other brands.  If you are selling a great product, you must also complement it with great customer service. Just having a great product or service does not mean that you will be able to retain your customers without any trouble. Even if you sell quality products, a competitor with matching quality might be able to take away your customers. Focus on developing a relationship that is more long lasting than just buy and sell. Your relationship with your customers can be deeper and that will mean customers are more attached to your brand. To develop such a relationship, you must focus on customer engagement. Companies have found several new ways to engage their customers. Keeping in touch with your target audience consistently and making them feel like a part of the family helps develop good and strong relationships. Brands must make use of communication to engage the customers. This can be made possible through social media and other channels.

Use customer feedback: To involve the customers deeper, you must use customer feedback. This has several benefits but the biggest benefit is that it helps you develop and improve your customer experience continuously. Customers will also feel more included and as you involve them deeper, it will help build higher loyalty. The ability to provide feedback makes the customers feel more included and on top of all it opens a new communication channel between the brand and its customers. It also brings up the issues which may be spoiling customer experience and helps the managers address them in real time. In this way, you overall get to provide the customers with better value and an improved experience.

Every customer is valuable: You must consider how much repeat purchases mean for you. While trying to attract new customers, you must not lose sight of your existing customers. You would never want to lose a potential deal to a competitor. So, what would you do to ensure that your customers keep coming back to you? If possible return some of the value you have earned from your loyal customers in some way. Create loyalty programs and offer some financial or non-financial incentives. Every brand has something to offer that cannot be purchased easily. Providing your loyal customer with a special status or offering them special privileges also helps build loyalty.  The most important thing to know is that brand loyalty is a reciprocal relationship. Brands too need to be loyal to their customers if they want loyalty from them. Make your customers feel valued. Regular gifts, complementary shipping and similar other benefits will not only keep your customer engaged, it will make them feel valued and thus grow an attachment between them and your brand. If you value your customers, do not forget to show it. Appreciate their loyalty and whenever you get an opportunity show your appreciation for them and the relationship. Show them how special they are for you.

Use technology to leverage your customer satisfaction: 21st century is an era of technology and you can use it to leverage your customer experience. From customer service to customer engagement, you can use it for establishing a deeper connection with your customers. Use it to exceed your customers’ expectations and to build trust. A large number of brands are already using social media for customer engagement and for creating a better customer experience. You can also address complaints and resolve issues through social media channels. They can be used to churn excitement and to inform the customers of new offers. However, you can also use technology to provide a personalized customer experience. Use data to tailor the customer experience according to individual customers’ preferences. Research has also showed that customers grow more attached to certain brands that deliver personalized experiences. Using data will also help you create a more personalized shopping experience. This will help design better shopping experiences, maximize customer satisfaction and thus build brand loyalty. Collecting user data also helps the executives plan their marketing campaigns by gaining valuable insights into user preferences. Be fair and reliable in terms of communication. Allow the customers to opt in and opt out and instead of bombarding them with emails send well designed messages periodically that leave a better impression. This helps build reliability and trust and along with that a stronger bond. Sending irrelevant and too many messages leads to a loss of trust. Provide your customers with the right information that helps them make the right decision. In the brand customer relationship, trust is a very important factor and you can use technology to build more trust between you and your customers. Today, there are several software, apps and technology platforms that help the managers collect data and derive valuable insights which can be converted into actionable ideas.

Leaders must be involved: Above all, the leaders’ involvement is most essential for building brand loyalty. The personal brand of the leaders also reflects a brand’s personality. They can be the face of the brand. You know of several leaders who have been completely aligned with their brands and their faces and voice add to the trust and reliability associated with their brand. The leaders can also engage the customers and their brands’ followers through the social media. Communication from the leaders inspires more trust among the followers and customers. By letting their followers know what’s on their mind and emphasizing on the brand’s relationship with them always builds positive reputation. Any word from the leadership holds extra weight and is considered more reliable than marketing communication. Through regular and consistent interaction with their followers’ crowd, the leaders can build trust and also diffuse any confusion or misunderstanding more easily. Leaders must also take time to lay emphasis on the core values and mission of the brand and how they are focused at creating customer value and social value.

In the 21st century, every customer retained is more than or equal to several new customers gained. If a brand seeks to build loyalty, it must make its customers its priority. Take the example of Amazon, which has proved its obsession with customer service. It would go to any extent to prove its dedication. The result has been high level of customer loyalty and higher sales and revenue. However, most important thing is that every brand wants brand loyal consumers, but to build customer loyalty is not easy. Internet has brought higher level of competition and every customer wants convenience and a personalized shopping experience. The role of technology has grown highly important in this regard which most brands are using to market themselves and to communicate with their customers. Social media can be an efficient tool for marketing and communication both. However, leaders’ involvement is essential if you want your brand to make a special mark and earn higher loyalty. In this era of intense competition, it is not easy to build loyalty but one must invest in technology and other things to provide personalized experiences and to maximize customer satisfaction.

Sources:

https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/286767

https://www.forbes.com/sites/yec/2011/10/25/7-tips-for-building-brand-loyalty-in-a-discount-obsessed-market/#307e38a41504

Written by Abhijeet Pratap

Abhijeet has been blogging on educational topics and business research since 2016. He graduated with a Hons. in English literature from BRABU and an MBA from the Asia-Pacific Institute of Management, New Delhi. He likes to blog and share his knowledge and research in business management, marketing, literature and other areas with his readers.

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