What's love got to do with it. Brand love fails to drive loyalty.

It’s hard enough to get lots of people to buy a brand, so why do we (marketing consultants and agencies) insist on telling companies that we need to go further and get people to love a brand as well. Even the biggest brand lovers reportedly buy a brand only half of the time (50% of their share of category buying).

Most brand lovers still buy other brands, and almost all of a brand’s buyers don’t love it.

This is all too often why market research surveys don't line up with your customer service team's feedback or your sales numbers.

People who buy a brand more are more likely to agree (on a market research survey) to positive statements about that brand – that stated attitudes reflect past behaviour. Or more succinctly: attitudes reflect loyalty. If they buy a product frequently and are surveyed they are likely to agree with "this is my brand".

However the better question to understand if they are really brand loyalists is to ask if brand buyer agrees to the following... “I would say that I feel deep affection for this brand, like ‘love’, and would be really upset if I couldn’t have it”.

I would be willing to bet a wager that not many of your brand lovers would be really upset if they couldn't buy your product. It's a very difficult task to attain strong attachment-like emotions to the majority of brands. A lot of successful brands largely do without these emotional attachments to a brand.

I myself have two brand loves Absolut Vodka (I have a collection off over 90 bottles) and Irregualar Choice shoes (I have a collection of over 50 pairs) however I can confirm I am not loyal to either of them.

If you want to drive brand loyalty then you are going to have understand three things:

  1. You can fight for share of wallet but you will never get 100%

  2. At best you will be the top of the repertoire

  3. If you want to gain loyalty, you need to understand your customer's experiences with you and how you make them feel in the real moments that count.

People might not attain strong attachments & emotions to a brand but they will attach emotions very quickly to the experience you put them through. PWC data demonstrates so well....."Even if people love a company or product, 59% of people will still walk away after several bad experiences and 17% will walk away after just ONE bad experience."

If you want to win the loyalty game, here is how you can get started:

  • Get all your employees (C-suite included) to spend 3 days working in your customer service team to understand what your real customers experience.

  • Host a workshop with your customer service team to understand where your customer pain points are.

  • Have a phone call with some of your ex-customers to understand how your experience didn't live up to their expectation.

  • Ask your employees what they think the company is doing well and where it needs improvement.

Superior CX leads to more satisfied, engaged and loyal customers, if you want to win the loyalty game, you should be united around the need to design and implement successful CX-focused vision, strategy and initiatives. A great starting point is to understand your customers.

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