MORE THAN MEETS THE “LIKE” – HOW TO KEEP CONSUMERS COMING BACK

We’re in the midst of a brand loyalty recession.

According to Nielsen, 78% of consumers admit they are not loyal to any particular brand. So even though brands would all like to believe that merely being awesome means consumers will be loyal, they won’t be. Brand loyalty simply doesn’t exist anymore, at least not in the sense that it used to.

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BRANDING AS A LOYALTY-GENERATOR IS A DEAD CONCEPT

Branding was originally a source of value to both buyers and sellers. For buyers, a good experience with a branded product meant a person to assume they would then have a good experience with other products made by the same brand.

Therefore, even in the face of similar products, consumers would be inclined to purchase the same brand, reducing the brand’s sales costs while allowing them to charge more. Companies’ investment in branding previously had greater ROI, as it increased their profit margins.

However, branding doesn’t deliver as it once did, meaning spending more to reinforce the mere identity of a brand now has less returns than ever.

THE WORLD WIDE WEB OF OPTIONS AND ITS IMPACT ON BRAND LOYALTY

People are no longer loyal to brands as a whole; they select what to purchase based on a huge amount of shifting factors. And due to the overwhelming mass of information available for today’s purchase decisions,consumers are more likely to purchase different products/brands at each given turn.

This is because the internet enables quick, easy review of infinitely more options. While consumers used to change brands due to a disappointing experience with a brand, approximately 29% of today’s consumers change brands simply for greater variety and novelty; there are too many options to stay loyal to just one brand.

In addition, as consumers seek “new and different,” they no longer trust brands; they trust data they see about brands online. Consumers now analyze more features of more products in a shorter timeframe, including:

  • Reviews
  • Data on competitive products
  • Price levels, discounts and benefits

Heavily investing strictly in branding is no longer best for a brand’s budget. But investing in creating, distributing and spreading the word about great product—putting the brand in front of the consumers who are scouting the internet for their next purchase—is the first step to using budget for gaining/increasing sales.

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WHAT MOTIVATES CONSUMERS TO PURCHASE

While searching the very wide ‘web’ for products, there are a few main reasons consumers select (or elect to bypass) a brand.

Consumers are motivated to purchase by three key drivers:

  • Relevance - Does the product in question feed their need/want? For example, if a customer wants a cup of coffee now, they will search (likely on a mobile device) the nearest place to purchase a cup of coffee. However, they will only purchase the item if these other two drivers are in place…
  • Price/Value – Does the product in question fill the consumers’ need or want at a price they are willing (even glad) to pay? For example, if the price is too high, a consumer may dismiss the want entirely. Or, they will seek a brand with a better price/value (or perhaps one that is closer in proximity). Once they’ve made this selection, there is still one key driver your brand has to meet in order to win their purchase…
  • Reward – Does purchasing the product give the consumer more than just the item/service being purchased? For example, if a consumer is between two options that are equally relevant and have an equal value, the final differentiating driver is the reward they get for picking one over the other. This might be a percentage or dollar-amount discount, free shipping (where applicable), a free/bonus add-on item, or even an earned discount to use on a later purchase.

People want credit for everything, including the shopping they already do. In fact, 46% of people will switch to a new brand from a brand they like, simply to maximize brand loyalty rewards. As loyalty is now merely a completely transactional exchange between brand and consumer, consumers only want your product if you’re paying them back for buying it. It is therefore essential for your brand to develop a solid rewards program.

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THE COMMERCE DEFINITION OF “LOYALTY” (WHY YOU NEED REWARDS)

When a consumer earns tangible rewards on purchases, they will purchase again. This is a key ROI for a brand investing in a rewards program for their products, since repeat customers spend about 67% more than other customers.

Receiving rewards influences other behaviors, too. For example, 65% of consumers surveyed said rewards impact not only their frequency of purchase, but 64% said rewards influence the amount they spend, and 69% said rewards influence brand trial. In addition, 34% of customers say they wouldn’t purchase a brand again if it weren’t for its loyalty program.

In response to this (and commerce’s new definition of loyalty), having a brand loyalty rewards program is absolutely essential.

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HOW TO KEEP CONSUMERS COMING BACK TO YOUR BRAND

According to a study LIM College conducted in March 2015 on Millennial shopping trends, key strategies for being Millennials’ “brand of choice” in their purchase decisions include:

  • Developing innovative new products and services
  • Improving product design/style to reflect uniqueness
  • Improving product quality
  • Engaging in causes, philanthropy or endeavors that reflect beliefs/values (93% of consumers are more loyal to companies that engage in corporate responsibility)
  • Limiting distribution to maintain the brand’s exclusivity
  • Establishing and maintaining a solid rewards program

Of the 3.3 billion brand loyalty program memberships in the US, there are about 29 memberships per household. Of these, 58% of members don’t actually actively participate in those memberships; they signed up, but are no longer engaged with the program’s brand. To avoid being one of the forgotten brands in the loyalty program wasteland, maintain your consumers’ attention.

The best way to do this is to create a brand loyalty program that not only rewards your consumers well enough right off the bat to adequately keep them from straying to the competition, but also one that rewards them frequently with promotions, rewards that accrue, and by sending push notifications to keep the brand one step ahead of consumers’ wandering eyes.

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WHAT YOUR OVERALL MARKETING/REWARDS PROGRAM SHOULD LOOK LIKE

In 2014, global mobile traffic increased by 69 percent, and continues to increase. Research from comScore shows that in the past year, mobile commerce jumped 28% to $31.6 billion, outpacing desktop e-commerce growth.

Taking this into account, the most effective rewards program is one managed via a simple app, which goes everywhere with consumers. Not only does an app keep your brand in front of your consumer (and therefore, top-of-mind), but apps also relay back valuable data about consumers’ location, context, behaviors and habits.

Functionality is key to your mobile offerings. Create an app that not only allows for quick, easy purchase of your product (where applicable), but also has a streamlined overall user experience. Approximately 94% of customers who have an easy service experience will buy again from the same brand. In addition, 47% of consumers said if they can’t quickly find what they’re looking for on the website of a preferred brand, they’ll go elsewhere.

For this reason (and more), having a mobile-responsive website (or app) with the option to purchase, in addition to simple functionality and easy-to-locate products and interactive features, is vital for a brand.

No one likes a brand that plays hard to get; make your app free and easy:

  • Rewards program sign-up should cost nothing to join
  • App and/or rewards programs should have as few sign-up steps as possible
  • Reward programs/apps shouldn’t require consumers’ proprietary information, but should instead give them additional reward points for the more valuable information they share
  • Program should be simple (and fun) to use
  • Brands should use apps/rewards program as a channel for delivering appealing offers; 68% of consumers say coupons generate more repeat purchases
  • Stay proactive; once established, develop your app and rewards program to the point where it enables you to create location-based, context-aware, behavior-attentive and habit-savvy targeting of consumers

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THE PROOF IS IN THE “PUTTING”

The proof in how well your brand marketing and rewards investments are paying off is truly based on the time, thought, effort, budget and technology you put into it.

By heading in the direction of advanced features and incorporating the latest in technology to your brand’s marketing and sales approach, your brand will be better able to ramp up and continue building a sturdy consumer base in an era of a different kind of brand loyalty.

Your rewards program (especially if app-based) will continue to gather consumer information to help focus your marketing customization and targeting: where consumers are, when their needs strike, how they respond to offers and communications, how often/where they buy and how much they spend.
Maintaining this type of scope and insight on consumers will give you the edge you need for product development, brand reinforcement, customer service, user experience, consumer rewards and sales growth.

 

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