TollFreeForwarding.com have revealed findings from a nationwide study of 2,000 US adults which found that 75% of people believe that businesses need to do more to ensure that customer’s loyalty is rewarded. The survey also revealed a fascinating insight into what really drives customers into making repeat purchases from the same brand.
The changing commerce landscape and a shift in consumer’s values have led to higher expectations than ever before. Increases in internet and social media use has allowed consumers to have access to an instantaneous shopping experience, which significantly differs to the traditional means of a purchase decision. Particularly for the millennial generation, the digital world has fully immersed itself into all aspects of the buying process.
The modern day shopping experience now goes beyond human interaction. It is becoming increasingly clear that brands are uncertain what can cause a consumer to be loyal. However, it is essential that businesses generate a positive relationship between themselves and their customer base.
Whilst some businesses may implement a points programme this method of ensuring business may be considered a form of currency, but in some cases isn’t necessarily an act of loyalty from the customer. Businesses understand that the online customer experience requires a personal touch in order to satisfy the customer’s experience.
Image source: Aleksandra Gigowska
Our survey revealed an insight into consumer behavior and what is expected of businesses in order to keep up with the next generation of commerce.
The data showed that:
- 75% of respondents stated that brands should better encourage brand loyalty
- Coupons, discounts and rewards were found to be the main reasons for encouraging loyalty. However, the methods of reward distribution have changed due to the rise of social media and different forms of advertising. For example, businesses may now offer social media discount codes for students or a percentage off postage and packaging costs.
The survey encouraged respondents to provide examples of how brands have rewarded their loyalty or gone ‘above and beyond’ to ensure a positive customer service. The findings revealed five common values which businesses grow in order to compete for loyalty:
All consumers demand good value and good quality. This was found to be one of the most common responses.
- “Money is tight, so I’ll switch brands to save. I usually have favorites that I switch between, but I’ll try new ones from time to time to see if I can find a better one than the standard.”
Our survey found that consumers appreciated brands that are honest and can admit mistakes.
- “Customer loyalty programs. Maintain good quality. Be ready to admit mistakes rather than hide or obfuscate them. Don’t get greedy.”
Corporate Social Responsibility
Over the past decade, brands have recognized the need to become “greener” and aid their community and the population at large. Consumers recognise these efforts and may purchase based on the brand’s policies.
- “I am loyal to a certain brand as they are either the best product or have good corporation policies such as contributing to charity and supporting the arts”
- “Keep their formula, effectiveness and pricing consistent. Be active in community development such as charity works, environmental protection and maintenance causes”
It is now commonplace for brands to personalize their customer service offerings and think of genius marketing methods in order to retain customers.
- “I received a get well card from Netflix once, when I had to temporarily suspend my account due to extended illness causing a loss of income.”
- “It would be kind of nice to get some kind of free gift or special discounts as a way of rewarding you for your loyalty. You are what keep them in business after all. I actually received Happy Birthday cards in the past and it does make you feel special. I think brands should reach out and maybe attach ‘business cards’ or something with their products so that we can connect with them. I suppose set up loyalty programs.”
- “Canon has invited me to some local seminars to try winning me back as a photographer.”
It was found that consumers tend to stay loyal to businesses that consistently supply quality products that stand the test of time.
- “Apple is the only brand I usually go back to. Reliability and good design are the reason, even though products are more expensive I don’t want to run the risk of purchasing cheap, defective goods”
TollFreeForwarding.com spoke to business marketing expert, Chip Bell, about how brands compete for customer loyalty:
“Effective competing starts with great customer intelligence—not just the usual superficial marketing research but psychographics and socio-graphics too. It requires thinking like an anthropologist and consumer psychologist, not just like a marketer. Smart brands know that building a core of customers who are groupie-like (like the followers of Lady Gaga and Taylor Swift) provide a beta group for testing attraction techniques and partnership-building methods. Even if the organization is all click-to-click (rather than face-to-face or ear-to-ear), the principles are the same. “Dating” customers takes a willingness to go-to-school on what matters most to them and crafting tailored means to effectively reward their allegiance and advocacy.”
Anne Bahr Thompson from Onesixtyfourth spoke about the five-step Brand Citizenship model, which is just one theory in understanding the role that businesses play in our everyday life.
- Trust – A brand must deliver on its promises. Consumers want fair value and quality.
- Enrichment – All brands should have purpose and meaning. Brands know that they help to simplify our routines and enrich our daily lives.
- Responsibility – Brands should behave ethically and be proactive in their business practices. Consumers become fans of brands that exhibit human traits and behave sincere and honest.
- Community – Brands have the potential to rally communities and change our behaviour for the better.
- Contribution – Consumers want to buy from and deal with businesses that are making a difference in the world. By improving life on the planet, a brand ultimately enriches its fans’ lives.
The results from the survey highlight how creative opportunities still remain for businesses to enhance the customer experience, but they must do more to ensure loyalty. However, it is clear that businesses are slowly beginning to focus away from the transactional process and towards offering a personalized experience.
Our survey found that quality and value undoubtedly comes out on top. Despite rewards and loyalty programmes, customers are satisfied with a product or service which offers overall quality and value. However, although different brands have different aims, our findings suggest that options are available to generate a sense of brand loyalty.