Brand loyalty happens when there is an established pattern of repeat purchases. It's always the delight of every brand owner and custodian to have consumers become loyalists who have more or less become addicted to their brand and will keep coming back again and again to patronize them.
Brand Loyalty is desirable as it helps to ensure continuous patronage and has a direct positive impact on the bottom-line. Moreover, it has been established that it's a lot cheaper and takes a lot less effort to keep existing customers than to recruit new ones.
We are in an age where so many brands are jostling for shares of the consumers' pockets and will stop at nothing to outdo one another. It's becoming increasingly difficult to keep customers as loyalists in the face of desperate rate cutting, stiff price war, continuous value addition, counter offers and so on. The current situation in the Nigerian CSD (Carbonated Soft Drinks) market segment where major players have been forced to change bottle sizes as well as reduce prices in the face of brand switching by hitherto loyal consumers comes to mind.
It has therefore become necessary for any brand that wants to build strong brand loyalty to go the extra mile. These are some tips for achieving it:
1. Factor convenience into the buying process: make it as easy as possible for consumers to make purchases; offer delivery services where possible; let them be able to make purchases online; that's what the tech platforms/ e-commerce platforms like Jumia and Konga did to conventional stores and malls that made consumers switch loyalty to them.
2. Create loyalty reward schemes: every one loves to be rewarded and it feels good to get some sort of reward because of patronage. When consumers know their loyalty will be rewarded; they may be motivated to keep coming back.
3. Place value on engagement and feedback: create a platform for regular feedback from consumers so as to be able to quickly address their pain points; improve on perceived weaknesses and be perceived as a listening brand. Both Social and traditional Media platforms can be used for engagement.
4. Don't make drastic changes to product features except where it's absolutely necessary: why fix it when it's not broken? Except feedback makes it necessary or product has become obsolete; don't embark on a drastic change in product/service features. That particular feature you changed might be the reason why customers got hooked in the first place.
5. Be the extra-miler, offer something extra: this has become very necessary in the face of prevalent stiff competition amongst brands. Think of that extra thing that will delight the customer and make them keep coming back.
6.Offer top notch customer service and after sales service: The buying and selling process doesn't end when the customer picks the good and pays for it; how you handle the after sales experience will determine if the consumer will come back or refer other people.
7. Invest in channel development: Channel development is key; don't allow your retailers or wholesalers run out of stock. Create an effective system that ensures that products are available when the consumer wants to buy. If they try another product due to non-availability of yours; they may get hooked.
8. Invest in brand identity: A great brand identity doesn't only help to give distinct and recognizable identity to your brand thereby separating it from the pack; it could also help with brand affinity. Brands must look the part.
9. Make it experiential: Experiential marketing puts the products in the consumer's/ prospect's face and makes it easy for them to make a buying decision. It induces trial and first purchase and may as well be the beginning of a long-lasting relationship between the consumer and the brand.
10. Make use of influencers and Celebrity endorsements: while this may not apply to every brand; brand loyalty for some brands can be entrenched through celebrity endorsement and influencer marketing.