Customer-Driven Brand Loyalty
One of the most startling discoveries from my research was the considerable disconnect between today’s connected consumers and brands when it came to the subject of loyalty. Today’s empowered consumers believe that brand loyalty means brands are loyal to them as customers, and not that they as customers are necessarily loyal to brands. Accenture’s study on brand loyalty “found that 95 percent or more of Millennials [say] they want their brands to court them actively, and coupons sent via email or mailed to their homes currently (or will in the future) have the most influence on them.”30 Jake Sorofman of Gartner highlighted key research findings from two leading voices in digital about the directional changes in customer loyalty taking place in the digital economy: “For the third year straight, a Deloitte survey of 4,047 consumers across 28 product categories and 350 brands found brand loyalty declining significantly. It’s hardly surprising when you consider the growing empowerment of the connected consumer.” He then cited this key research finding based on a published research report:
He concluded: “loyalty should be a two-way street whose orientation is biased to the consumer, not the brand.”31
Consumers are empowered, and loyalty is fickle. At the end of the day, loyalty has to do with a brand’s capability to meet consumer needs over time. Experiences that show consumers that brands can be loyal to them, rather than those solely focused on rewarding and incentivizing customers to make a sale, will shape customer decisions to create long-term, loyal brand advocates.
The key insight is that customers expect loyalty to be customer centric, and not simply brand centric. We will dig deep into this topic in Chapter 3, “The New Look of Loyalty,” when we explore the subject of loyalty’s new look, in significant detail.