Thanks to the growth of omnichannel brands, Instagram shopping, and new online retailers, consumers have a never-ending way of acquiring the products they seek.
At the same time though, consumers take a lot of factors into consideration when deciding what and where to purchase, which creates a major opportunity for brands big and small to attract loyal customers and hold onto them for the long term.
Your strategy for holding onto a customer should not revolve solely around staying competitively priced or continuing to offer discounts - focusing only on monetary appeal may be unsustainable and also may attract customers who are only looking for a bargain.
Instead, consider turning your attention to how you can cultivate brand loyalty.
What is Brand Loyalty?
Brand loyalty is a customer’s willingness to make repeat purchases from you because of associations the customer makes with your brand (as opposed to special offers or discounts you extend).
In other words, brand loyalty comes as a result of a cohesive brand identity — everything from the way you communicate, to the type of services you provide, your marketing efforts, and even your company brand name, mission, and overall reputation. All these elements working together should drive customers to feel aligned with your brand and motivate them to return to you over and over again for your products and services.
Brand loyalty is important for a successful business, too. Investing in customer retention is more cost efficient than continuously marketing to new customers. Brand loyalty also leads to increased brand awareness, brand equity, and customer lifetime value.
How Do You Develop Brand Loyalty in Retail?
Brand loyalty is particularly important because it is hard for your competitors to undermine. Especially in retail, brand loyalty is a must if you are looking to ensure that the customers who have purchased from you once continue to support you as a business.
If you’re a retailer interested in building brand loyalty, there are a few key areas of your business and your customer’s experience to focus on. But first, you need to take stock of what you’re already doing to earn customer loyalty.
Learn About Your Customers
The first step to creating a strong brand loyalty strategy is to understand why your customers are drawn to you in the first place. It’s important to ask loyal customers what they love about your particular brand (not just your products) and make sure you’re doubling down on the aspects of your brand customers are already responding to.
Asking them about what they liked most about shopping on your website, or how often they’d like to receive emails all ties into developing their willingness to depend on your preferred brand for their relevant needs.
You should also take the time to research your loyal customer base. For example, how often are they moving between your channels, and how are they choosing to engage with you? Do a lot of your customers message you on social media, or are they more likely to want to speak to someone on the phone? You can find a lot of these answers through a unified CRM like Endear’s, where shopping patterns online and in-store are streamlined into one client profile.
Customize Your Program
A brand loyalty program can have a lot of different components based on what part of your brand appeals to current and potential customers. If you’re just starting out, go with an offering that is most likely to appeal to the largest segment of your audience.
But as you grow, make sure that you’re targeting these different programs to the audience that will care the most, rather than expecting everyone to participate in everything. The more you can tailor how you market your brand to a customer, the more likely that customer is to engage.
Types of Retail Brand Loyalty Programs
1. Personalized Attention
There’s a lot of room for loyalty-building immediately after a customer makes his or her first purchase. The post-purchase experience is the ultimate opportunity to get to know your customers and learn what brought them to you in the first place.
Personalizing your outreach with more than a traditional “thank you for your purchase” email will help create a customer experience to remember and also give you a chance to share other ways for them to connect with you, such as by joining a community of fans or following you on Instagram.
The more touch points you can loop customers into, the more platforms you’ll have at your disposal to promote your brand. This type of personal outreach also ensures that customers know how best to get in touch with you.
2. Customer Communities
A key way to build brand loyalty is to make your customers feel like they are part of the brand. Involving your customers in your brand can come in many forms, such as inviting them to give feedback on prototypes, hosting events, or creating permanent virtual spaces for them to meet, such as a Slack channel or Facebook group.
Giving your customers a say in decision-making will not only make them feel more loyal, it will of course also ensure that they like what you do next.
As much as we wish it were the case, your customers are not just shopping from you. Even if they were, they’re also consuming content in a ton of different ways. To further emphasize what kind of brand you are and garner loyalty, consider working with other brands that target a similar audience.
A brand in this case can mean another person, place, or service, or even another company in a different product category, to highlight how well you understand what else is on your customers’ minds. Together, you and this partner can create a new kind of brand experience, product, or activation that further heightens your customer’s impression of you.
Many rewards programs are driven by customer spending — a brand loyalty program is different and should not be about dollars spent. However, you can still build brand loyalty through gamification. Gamification means creating opportunities for customers to compete, earn points, or achieve certain goals or statuses by engaging in certain activities that positively reinforce your own goals as a brand.
A popular way to use gamification for brand loyalty is to reward customers who advocate on behalf of your specific brand. Customers are more likely to trust a friend for recommendations over advertising, and even prefer other customers’ reviews when assessing what to buy, so rewarding your customers for sharing their thoughts on your products through word-of-mouth marketing can have an incredible impact on your growth.
Another, modern way to grow brand loyalty is through educating your customers on how to use your products in a variety of contexts. Whether through an internal content team or through user generated content (UGC), customers are more likely to buy products from you if they feel like you’ll also help them get the most value out of those products.
That can come in the form of illustrating unique ways to pair an item of clothing through a styling program, creating tutorials on how to apply a certain beauty product, or simply teaching customers how to repair their purchase in case of an accident.
4 Examples of Retail Brand Loyalty Strategies
Known for their timeless women’s footwear and accessories, Loeffler Randall has flourished as a go-to brand for every occasion thanks to their high-quality products and attention to detail. Priding themselves on an almost entirely female team, the company also celebrates its customers in the form of a dedicated Community page to complement other pages on their site that highlight their values and mission as a company.
Your website is the best place (aside from your store) for customers to learn what you stand for as a company and connect with them based on values they admire so think about what your branded digital experience says about you.
DTC “sleep” company Casper might seem like an unlikely brand to make use of influencers and yet this marketing strategy has been a core component of the company’s overall growth almost since the beginning. With a focus on Youtube vloggers, the brand was able to reach a younger, more tech-savvy audience in the early days that would appreciate its value proposition of empowering customers to buy a new mattress easily and conveniently over the internet.
Teaming up with influencers that their customers already followed and trusted earned the company buy-in and loyalty from their audience because they felt like Casper was a mattress company that understood its audience’s lifestyle.
Mizzen + Main
Celebrity endorsements are a timeless strategy that still can generate brand loyalty — just ask performance menswear brand Mizzen + Main. The brand has coupled a playful brand voice that its target audience can relate to with collaborations with athletes on specific product lines that helps validate that their clothes are as stretchy and comfortable as the brand claims.
With a focus on natural, high-performing ingredients, beauty brand Tarte Cosmetics offers pretty much everything you could think of in the makeup and skincare category. However, Tarte has done an excellent job of making it easy for customers to find the right products thanks to online assessments like their foundation finder, and their makeup tutorials on their IGTV channel. With over ten-million followers on Instagram, the brand understands that the more they can create helpful, relevant content for their customers, the more likely they are to return to Tarte whenever they need a new beauty product.
Whether you’re just getting started or are looking to enhance an already-successful brand loyalty program, Endear is a great way to add an extra layer of personalization into the mix. With our messaging platform, you can ensure that customers always have a way to get in touch with the right person and your sales team has the full history of everyone they chat with. Learn more at endearhq.com.