In previous posts, we have investigated the way in which the advertising industry has changed during the recession. The fundamental reason for this change is the changing culture of consumerism. Gone are the days of excessive consumption, WAG spending and dramatic ad campaigns. In a recession consumers are gravitating towards brands that inspire loyalty and reassurance. While this may be problematic for marketers, it provides a number of interesting opportunities for small business owners, who are in a better position to establish a more personal relationship with their consumer base. Loyal customers have a higher average spend and become brand ambassadors for your business. But where do you begin when trying to increase brand loyalty? Have a look at our guide to making sure your customers never go elsewhere
Give them what they want
One of the most important things to uncover, when trying to establish a long term relationship with your customer base is what informs their purchasing decisions. In the past, market research suggested that one of the main key drivers of customer loyalty was price satisfaction.
Brand consultant Matthew Turner, agrees that historically this was the case. However, he suggests that the contemporary consumer demands more.
“It is no longer enough to be price competitive, your brand must engage emotionally with the consumer, establishing a trust and integrity. One of my clients operates in a incredibly saturated market which is dominated by discount retailers and yet though his competitors sell the same product as him at a lower price, his company maintains the largest market share, because they offer their consumers a personal relationship not a faceless marketing campaign”
If you are in a position to know what a customer really wants, you can take a look at your company and work at providing it.
Though market research has its place, the best way to find out what your customers want is to ask them. Mark Thomas, founder of the restaurant chain Bakersfield, comments “From the point of company formation, our business was informed and driven by customer feedback. We never miss an opportunity to ask what they think about our service and how they feel we could improve. Some of the major new initiatives we have implemented are the direct result of customer opinion.”
We are not suggesting rigorous data interrogation here, but taking the time to look at customer feedback strategically allows you assess market trends and react accordingly.
Thomas agrees “We assess data frequently, but if we are considering a major development we ask our entire database what they think before implementing the proposition. Not only do consumers feel they are part of our brand, they feel they have a say in its future.”
In tomorrow’s post we will consider the way in which a brand’s values influence customer loyalty.