The Blake Project, the brand consultancy behind Branding Strategy Insider, delivers interactive brand education workshops and keynote speeches designed to align marketers on essential concepts in brand management and empower them to release the full potential of the brands they manage.
Category: Brand Loyalty
It’s amazing who we forget and how quickly. I don’t remember any of the people on the bus last week. Who did I ride home with last Thursday? My mind goes blank. It’s nothing personal – it’s simply that I have no reason to remember them. Or they me.
Exactly the same for most transactions that take place between people and brands. People get what they’re looking for, and then they go.
If you ask the people responsible for running brands what customers they want, they’ll often say “as many as possible” or “people who spend a lot” or this age group or that ethnic group – but that’s not what they really want at all. Because, when probed, they have no idea who they want as customers. They’ll take anyone whose buying. They just want the money.
And yet many of them spend their working days trying to get those very same people to value them above the myriad other offerings. To value them as more than just a price.
As Robert Kozinets has so rightly pointed out, one of the great fallacies about relationships is that brands tend to connect value and loyalty – but customers can actually be loyal and buy very little, or they can buy a lot and not be loyal at all.Read More
I love this distinction by Martin Bishop between the brands we’re stuck on versus the one we’re stuck with. Brands we’re stuck on captivate us. Brands we’re stuck with hold us captive. As Bishop points out, “Consumers may be loyal to both types of brands if loyalty is simply measured in terms of repeat business but their feelings about the two types brands [are] very different.”
Brands we are stuck on reward us emotionally through the relationship we have with them. We are loyal to them, and our relationship is expressed through repeat business. Brands we are stuck with are there strictly for functional compliance – because we feel we have no choice but to have a relationship with them, or with someone equally as unattractive. And we engage with them as much as we have to, but only to that point.
The difficulty for brand owners is that the metrics for these two very different levels of “loyalty” can look very much the same: low churn; repeat purchase; consistent revenue. The difference lies in how the customers themselves feel, and whether they openly express that or not. And the litmus test for such loyalty is when a viable and competitive alternative offer hits the market. Those who are stuck on the brand may notice it but consciously choose to stay away. Those who feel stuck may well decide not to stick it out any longer or at the very least to look to escape at the first opportunity.Read More
Most good marketers know how to gain top of mind. Good marketers are adept at widening the funnel at the top end. They are good at introducing new lines, new variants, new dimensions – in order to attract new customers. They know how to work with their agencies and their internal teams to fashion a story that intrigues to draw an audience. They know how to weight media flights and craft promotions that persuade consumers to call or to visit. They’ve learned to charm. Competition’s taught them to do that well.
That used to be their biggest challenge.
Some would argue of course that’s never been more difficult, but, ironically, it’s not the biggest challenge marketers face anymore.
Now the biggest challenge facing marketers is gaining and retaining front of heart: sustaining the appeal for those who already believe in the face of ongoing enticement from determined competitors.
That’s because, between initial purchase and continued purchase, a vital change takes place. What consumers need at first is awareness, authenticity, excitement and a sense of gain. The sales funnel works well to get them through the obstacles to first buy.
But after that comes the need for affirmed faith. Once consumers are passionate about a brand, they need different things. They certainly don’t need to be sold to anymore – at least not like they were sold to at first. Now they need to be reminded that they’re making the right choice every time they buy, and they need to feel rewarded for the decision to lock in.
Problem is, for so many brands there’s no real sense of that reward. They either ignore loyal consumers. Or smother them. They group them as stats. Or they don’t segment them at all.
Here are four of the biggest mistakes that marketers make that lead to a loss of brand loyalty:Read More
It's been said that a good book tells the truth about its hero and a bad book tells the truth about its author. But the liquidation of a 40 year-old bookstore chain ultimately tells the truth about the brand and how it was managed.
Last Friday Borders bookstores began liquidation sales at their remaining 399 retail stores. Former Borders VP and Chief Merchandising Officer and current interim CEO, Mike Edwards, sent out an email to Borders Rewards customers, which was an interesting spin on events. But to paraphrase Oscar Wilde, a thing is not necessarily true because a brand dies for it, so here are some portions of his letter and some of our observations from a loyalty and engagement perspective.
"I want to personally thank you for your loyalty and support. . . "
Observation: What loyalty? It's been more than half a decade since Borders declared an actual profit, and has lost a billion + dollars since. That's occasional shopping, not the loyalty that drives profitability.
"You might be asking yourself what happened?"
Observation: Not really. Borders was egregiously bad at identifying consumer product and lifestyle trends, introducing candles and stationary, CDs and DVDs at a time when consumers were moving in other directions. The chain was late to the e-book movement, but more about that later. We don't know what they relied upon for insights, but we're sure they weren't real loyalty measures. Actual loyalty measures identify consumer behavior trends 12 to 18 months before they show – or in the case of Borders — do not show up at the register.Read More
When it comes to luxury store retailing, properly rewarding a customer who spends $200,000 a year could be as easy as a walk in the park, or Park Avenue. But recognizing those dedicated shoppers who spend upwards of $1 million a year takes more than diamond points – this kind of shopper requires sincere eloquence.
It’s a high-class, and at times bewitching, problem.
After all, identifying these shoppers is not difficult. Luxury comes with an implied level of unparalleled customer service, so the top-tier shopper often develops an intimate relationship with her sales associate. That associate in turn becomes a de-facto ambassador, loyalty mechanism and extension of the retail brand.
The trick then is combining that on-the-ground intelligence with shopper data to identify a loyalty reward the luxury consumer finds of real value. These are shoppers who can literally afford anything they want, remember – there is no question of need. Rather, it comes down to delivering a one-of-a-kind service or experience that falls squarely within their values.
This is not exactly a revelation – wealthy shoppers have long equated luxury with their life experience. But in the past couple of years, the top-tier consumer has been changing how she shops, opting for private services rather than buying on the sales floor, and having items shipped home instead of advertising her splurge on the street. This indicates that even the exceptionally affluent are sensitive to flaunting their wealth when so many others are suffering economic hardships.
Understanding these philosophical shifts is critical.Read More