The Changing Facade of Brand Loyalty

The Changing Facade of Brand Loyalty

August 20, 2017

Brands triumph on consumer loyalty as a measuring yardstick for recurring sales, being able to deliver consistent performance, and the satisfaction of offering right price for the item in order to ensure value contribution in the financial steadiness of the business. Consumers, not too long ago, were loyal to brands that provided perceived benefits, right price for the item, availability of the product at nearby stores and etc. Interestingly in today’s time, consumer’s loyalty no more adheres to perpetual commitment merely for the above factors only. In addition, they rather seek constant innovation and speedy relevant change that fulfils their specific needs in this progressive global environment. Even at times competitive price may not be able to deflect this need of ‘new’ and ‘better’. This kind of ardent requirement of the consumers from the brands stems from the change in the market due to the rapid expansion of online shopping with fast shipping delivery, abundance of sellers with new offerings, interaction with brands with personalized feedback and so forth.

Consumer loyalty also encompasses word of mouth advocacy, recommendation to ones inner circle. But these days even the pattern of recommendation has taken a different turn. With people carrying small technology devices & smart phones, they get instant feedback or reviews from other similar users in minutes. Just waiting on to hear recommendation from ones inner circle and consequently making a decision may not seem time efficient and definitely not a holistic approach in the decision making process for selecting a product/service by the end users. Social media makes the exposure of a product high and along with the user’s opinions. The challenge is to scoop the best of the both. Market dynamics has changed and so has people’s habits. Loyalty needs to remain the same and to commit and not to seek or explore different prospects or alternatives. In relationships this can be borne but not with goods where financial implications are attributed from both sellers and buyers point of view. The brutal truth is that there is no such thing as consumer’s obligation. ‘New and better’ will always trump loyalty in any financial transaction.

So what does a brand do to attain loyalty? Firstly in today’s world manufacturers and business owners need to understand the reasons behind the dynamic change in the market along with the cultural shift that has taken place, while making loyalty plan for consumers. For instance mobile company needs to constantly innovate with the shape and size of the phone along with its many features. Here in Bangladesh, Nokia was one of the most popular brands during the late 90s and early 2000s. Now after 10 to 12 years, with the enthusiastic entry of other mobile brands, consumers are seen to switch to other brands for convenience, or for better technology or perhaps in some case for a posh look. We now have Uber service available in town whereas it was difficult getting a taxi to ride in not too long ago. In this fast paced of life, consumers appreciate ease and convenience. In one of the articles on brand loyalty published in FORBES magazine in July 2016, the author attributed few factors for the brand loyalty erosion such as, our personal relationships, our places of work, our religious and spiritual beliefs and the generation itself, all of which has been the underlying factors on how we perceive brands and commit to it. Albeit the article has been written with in respect to the trend in the US, but in this digital era and globalization as well as our evolving economy, the apple does not fall too far from the tree. With the millennial generations even here in our country, ‘Old and Tried’ are being engulfed by ‘New and Change’. The few notable indications in our daily lives are the trend in our work place where employees, especially the millennial generation is not so keen in being institutionalized by one company or industry. Working for a company for even 15 years seems like stagnation in the growth of a career. In this information age, job search on online-portals for better opportunities makes it easier for millennials to get the personalized job they fancy, as well as keeping up to date with the requirements and trends in the business world.

Relationship dynamics has changed with the changing environment. Online shopping or purchase of gifts for loved ones has efficiently managed the ‘time’ that once families used to spend in doing things together. People’s habits have changed. With working parents, for instance, eating habits has changed for the entire family. Instant ‘roti’ making with frozen marinated chicken curry available in the nearby grocer, is an effortless option than kneading flour and cutting /cooking the chicken. Children in such family dynamics are brought up with the need to speed things up and contemplating less on doing things physically or having shared experiences.

For businesses to cultivate consumer loyalty, they should take advantages of the very norm that may seem a hindrance to them. Brand communication has to be done considering all the tools available such as the internet, smart phone and social media. Brands then have to select the right channels to reach the specific needs of the customers in order to ensure a value contribution that meets the projected financial requirements of the business. Brands should develop consumer loyalty programs that cater to individuals needs or embed ‘personalization’ in the program but at the same time respect consumers’ privacy without being a prodnose. Loyalty reward programs should be adopted. Consumers using a product for long should be thanked with rewards or benefits. Airlines sometimes use free mileage options as rewards for passengers who use their airlines on a regular basis. Cross channels data information analysis can be done to get consumer insight and tailor the right message to be send at the right time.

Beyond all scepticisms, the truth is that brand loyalty has not vanished. Brands just need to adapt and gear their thinking process in the right direction to ensure long lasting satisfied consumers and sustainable profits for the business.

 

Author

Mahzabeen Faruque

MBA in Advanced Strategic Mangement, Cardiff Business School, UK. She has worked in Lafarge Surma Cement, Perfetti Van Melle as Brand Manager; She is the Owner of Aavaron.

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