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Building Loyalty Requires More Than a Loyalty Program

We cover emerging loyalty topics and examine how consumer mindsets are shifting, so brands can ensure their customer strategies are current and relevant. We took an expanded view of loyalty, looking at how consumers feel about loyalty programs and understanding their view of loyalty within the customer experience and brand messaging.

Let’s take a look at how consumers responded to our survey questions about what makes them loyal to a brand, and what this means for you as a marketer. We’ll give you a hint: building loyalty requires more than a loyalty program.


Meet rational and emotional needs throughout the customer experience 

While a loyalty program can be an overarching loyalty experience that has a significant impact on a consumer’s purchase decision, our research shows consumers think about loyalty more broadly. Sixty percent of consumers said a great product is the top reason they feel loyal to a brand. And almost two-thirds of respondents felt a brand’s email program was part of its loyalty approach. The importance of product quality and email strategy tells us that consumers view loyalty as more than just a program.

Convenience and enhancing one’s life were next on the list after great products and came in closely ranked. This combination of meeting rational product needs and delivering emotional benefits is the foundation for building trust with consumers. Once trust is established by meeting these needs, a door opens for brands to create an emotional connection and meaning that leads to enduring brand loyalty.

Action item: Consider starting with a customer survey to gain an understanding of what customers like about your products or services, and how you could make the experience even better. The survey itself provides a way to connect with customers and acting based on that feedback makes them feel valued. Don’t forget to communicate how you elevate a product or service based on feedback so customers can enjoy the new experience and gain trust in your brand to listen and follow through.


Program and experience drive buying decisions

When it comes to deciding which product or service to buy, loyalty programs, of course, play a key role. Programs provide rational value through discounts and rewards. They can also provide emotional value through life-enhancing features, benefits, and services. And for brands, programs can be the mechanic to deliver the top things consumers say brands should offer to keep their loyalty: discounts, surprise offers or rewards, and exclusive benefits.

In our survey, loyalty programs ranked the highest in terms of impact on consumers’ likelihood to continue to do business with a brand, thereby extending the lifetime value of the relationship. But customer service and a consistent customer experience were not far behind. This emphasises the importance of broadening the view of loyalty from a siloed strategy to one that encompasses the total customer experience – one that includes all touch-points in the customer journey. And while responses to the question above were relatively similar, Gen Z’s love for apps stands out. Sixty eight percent said they were likely to continue doing business with a brand because of its mobile app.

Action item: Do some discovery to find out if an app makes sense for your brand. It won’t work for every brand, but for those where it does, your mobile app should be a critical strategy to reaching Gen Z, much more so than a personalised website. And when they are in the app, you have Gen Z’s attention to communicate any sales, deals, offers, new products, etc. that you want.


You can also reach out to our team to take the next step toward building loyalty throughout the customer experience.


Reposted from Merkle global