Loyaly is most often tied to emotion and golden retrievers, so it might sound odd to think any of us is loyal to a brand, corporation, or product. If you own an Android phone and have wondered why iPhone users get in long lines to buy the latest version of Apple’s product, you are both witnessing and participating in brand loyalty.
When it comet to brand loyalty there is often a binary aspect; Montgomery Ward or Sears; Chevy or Ford; BMW or Mercedes, Apple or Microsoft. Brand loyalty has been around for as long as there have been brands. It’s not unlike supporting one sports team over another. Loyal customers are passionate about their brand choices. They are committed and consistent in their preference, often irregardless of price.
Art, Science, or Religion?
Building brand loyalty is both art and science. It drives everything from product development to sales to marketing. So called “true believers” or product “evangelists” promote the product at every opportunity to increase their share of the business and dominate the market. Loyal customers are repeat customers and repeat customers are always easier and cheaper to sell to compared with the cost of acquiring new customers. Listening to loyal customers drives future product refinements and new product development. It is the attitude, behavior, and price sensitivity of loyal customers that businesses large and small covet.
The ability you, as an individual consumer, have to impact a product or service by posting a negative review on Facebook or sharing your dissatisfaction on Twitter is more powerful than you might imagine. Marketing departments all over the world have added social media teams to monitor and respond to criticism of their product and brand in realtime. If your negative comments have such an impact, think of the power of your endorsement.
Hyper competition, a leveled playing field made possible by the internet, and the word-of-mouth power of social media has changed the landscape for corporations and business forever. Word-of-mouth advertising has become such a significant part of marketing that companies have built their entire platform around providing the service to brands who are seeking feedback on new products or trying to expand their reach. How does it work? Whether you read customer reviews or take customer service surveys after you’ve purchased a product, customer and brand loyalty have never been more important or more powerful. Those businesses who choose to ignore your customer feedback do so at their own peril and are far less likely to survive.
Customer feedback can change more than just products and services. It can change corporate policy and behavior on everything from environmental concerns to how business treats their employees. Companies who truly value their raving fans listen to them and in some cases reward them for their advocacy.
So what products or services have earned your loyalty? How often do you refer a particular brand to a family member, friend, or colleague? The next time you’re presented with a survey, know that you and other brand loyalists like you help shape its future enhancement, spawn an idea for a new product, or even change the way that company does business.