What influences your choice to support Chelsea, to buy Renault cars, to drink Tetley tea, to shop at Sainsbury’s? Pamela Bath of award-winning CRM agency The Blueberry Wave explores the elements which inform our choices in seeking out – and being loyal to – a brand.
If you strip the concept of loyalty down to its bare roots, it becomes clear that the way people interact with brands is wildly different according to the various dimensions of their life.
An individual’s beliefs, attitudes and behaviours, how they’re influenced by peer groups, their socialisation, their education, their life experiences and how they want to be perceived are all hugely influential factors in shaping how someone selects and interacts with brands.
Therefore, if we understand people’s internal belief systems we should also be able to understand what’s influencing their consumer choices, and more accurately tap into their needs to create true, ingrained loyalty.
So is loyalty derived from cause or effect? Do your beliefs affect your attitude to loyalty or is loyalty an outcome of your rational priorities? You could be hugely loyal to John Lewis, for instance, because you like the level of customer experience, the perceived value for money and the type of goods available; but it doesn’t actually matter to you whether you buy these goods from John Lewis or anywhere else.
It could be argued that there’s no sense in loyalty if it doesn’t deliver to the bottom line; therefore, brands need to reach consumers as early in their lives as possible to create buying habits – that’s why most advertising is aimed at young people. Whilst there’s nothing commercially wrong with that theory, consumers are beginning to want more.
That’s where personalisation becomes vital; treating the customer as an individual, recognising their unique behaviours, and ultimately making them feel happy with themselves, all comes back to a brand’s ability to understand – and appeal to – the human psyche.
Increasingly, brands are seeking specialist support from companies like Blueberry Wave who can act as anthropologists and actually interpret their consumer’s behaviours, needs and desires, enabling brands to think over and above the virtual parapet of in-aisle discounts and short-term points schemes, and ultimately forge a better relationship with the people who buy their products.
As we’ve identified, there are a plethora of loyalty motivators but in the majority of cases, they can be split into two types - emotional loyalty and functional loyalty. You could have a functional loyalty to Renault because you trust the brand and you’ve made the logical decision based on past experiences, but your emotional loyalty is to Porsche because you love the cars and the perceived lifestyle.
Emotional loyalty is about feelings and experiences; it doesn’t always deliver to the bottom line, but it does create relationships and advocacy. Conversely, whilst functional loyalty does deliver to the bottom line, it could be argued that functional loyalty isn’t really loyalty at all, but cognitive ease and habit. Functional consumers buy from you because it’s easy or affordable or directly fulfils an immediate need.
Successful brands are those which can reach both emotional and functional consumers. It’s about recognising loyalty as a broad and diverse spectrum, and having a foot across all shades of the spectrum.
Whilst you don’t have to be high spenders to be advocates, you still have to reward those advocates because they can influence the high spenders; look at the number of people who spend their life reading up about the latest Apple technology, but can’t afford to actually buy any of it? They can still influence those who can.
Loyalty, in the true meaning of the word – loyalty to your partner, to your kids, to the people and places and things that mean the most to you – are deeply ingrained into your psyche, and it’s the same with brands; you pop into the supermarket and automatically put a box of Twinings Tea into your trolley without even thinking about it. Real loyalty is loyalty that’s working at an unconscious level; and when brands achieve that, they’ll have your custom for life.
By Pamela Bath, Blueberry Wave, Marketing agency, they simplify the complex world of customer data for clients looking for business growth – finding and nurturing profitable customers for businesses with ambition.