Loyalty costs nothing…except charitable donations, discounts and a birthday message

shutterstock_148872464Businesses need to better adapt to the changing needs and desires of their customers, according to a study investigating changing trends in consumer behaviour. 

The study carried out by TollFreeForwarding.com, found that 75% of people think that businesses need to better encourage brand loyalty.

The results, from a survey of 2000 respondents, highlighted how customer’s expectations are higher than ever before. It also revealed how more traditional boundaries of purchase and loyalty have been broken, partly due to new and innovative means of encouraging repeat purchase.

The data also showed that:

  • Women (78%) are more loyal to brands than men (75%).
  • Loyalty increases with age with nearly 80% of over 55’s saying they are most loyal to one brand, whilst 18-24 year olds are lowest with just over two-thirds.
  • 9 out of 10 people said that no brand had done anything extraordinary to keep them going back.
  • Coupons, discounts and rewards were found to be the main reasons for encouraging loyalty. However, the ways these are distributed has changed due to the rise of social media and different forms of advertising.
  • Quality and value equalled those who favoured personalised offerings including rewards. The combination of quality, value and great customer service showed to be a significant factor in ensuring a sense of loyalty.

The survey also encouraged respondents to give examples of how brands have encouraged brand loyalty with five common areas standing out: 

  • Value – “Money is tight, so I’ll switch brands to save. I usually have favourites 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.”
  • Admit to making a mistake – “Customer loyalty programs. Maintain good quality. Be ready to admit mistakes rather than hide or obfuscate them. Don’t get greedy.”
  • Corporate social responsibility – “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”
  • Innovative customer services – “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.”
  • Quality and consistency – “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.”

These findings reflect how opportunities remain for business to enhance brand loyalty and stand out from competitors. Brands need to encourage and implement engagement strategies which involve both traditional and online advertising in order to add a personal touch to the customer experience. This expectation differs with age too. The advance of social media has led younger consumers to demand rewards, coupons, personalized content and the opportunity for mobile payment.

TollFreeForwarding.com spoke to thought leaders and business owners from across to the world to find out how maximum brand loyalty can be ensured. Business marketing expert, Chip Bell, gave his thoughts: “Effective competing starts with great customer intelligence – not just the usual superficial marketing research type, but psychographics and socio-graphics.  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.”