Brand Keys, the New York-based brand loyalty and engagement research consultancy, annually translates behavioral and emotional engagement metrics from our Customer Loyalty Engagement Index to identify marketing trends.
This year, we did something completely different. We used all 25 years of our database—containing 4.3 million customer loyalty and engagement assessments for 1,624 brands in 142 categories—to look back and ahead. Independently-validated and correlating highly (0.80+) with positive, in-market consumer behavior, these assessments represent the world’s largest continuous brand tracking database, mined for four 2022 trends.
1. Consumer foundations for brand engagement, product and service purchase, and brand loyalty will be almost entirely emotionally based
The Index shows a cross-category decision-making ratio of 80 percent emotional, 20 percent rational for 2022. Rational aspects for categories and sectors will get filed by consumers under “Primacy-of-Product/Service.” Brands will need to know the emotional-rational ratio for values that drive consumer behavior in their categories. To do that, brands will need to acknowledge the difference between “emotion” and “imagery” and “engagement” and “entertainment” because consumers are going to.
2. Consumer expectations will increase
Twenty-five years tracking consumer brand loyalty makes it clear consumers do not settle for what exists. Expectations will continue to increase faster than brands can keep up. Net change since 1997 and 2022 will see a 39 percent cross-category increase in what consumers expect; social Networking and Technology closer to a 50 percent increase. Brands only managed to keep up by about 5 percent, creating an even bigger gap between what consumers desire and what brands are capable of delivering.
3. Value ownership will be 2022’s lock on loyalty and differentiation
Value-ownership today is a brand-state that goes well beyond 20th century differentiation to define category leadership. Brands that can best meet expectations and emotionally engage will survive. But brands that will dominate, and literally “own” categories, will own an emotional value that will differentiate them from their competition. Amazon has created a connection fulfilling consumers’ needs for “immediate gratification.” Apple has done it via “human connection.” Netflix via “diversion.” Your brand will need to do that too.
4. Brand dominance and profitability will be synergistic
The ability to own emotionally engaging values and meet consumer expectations will be synergistic. Adjusted for a new century (and for inflation), loyalty will matter more than ever. It will cost 13 to 18 times more to recruit a new customer than to keep an existing one (+60 percent vs. 1997). An increase in loyalty of 5 percent is projected to result in a 2022 boost in lifetime profits per customer of as much as 78 percent (+22 percent), and an increase in customer loyalty of only 2 percent will be equivalent to a 15 percent across-the-board cost reduction program (+50 percent). What has not changed—the bottom line is always the bottom line!
Brand Keys speaks to thousands of consumers annually. That’s how we created the largest continuous consumer loyalty database in the world. That’s how we identify linked-to-behavior insights and trends.
But we also recognize that people are only consumers some of the time and even then do not turn to anything resembling a buying equation. They remain people, with emotions and lives who understand brand choices have social, tribal, even spiritual consequences. Consumers are constantly re-examining deeply held notions that underlie their brand loyalties and market behaviors. So does Brand Keys. And that leads us to the nexus of opportunity and success.
As always, we welcome that opportunity to share insights with our colleagues and invite them to reach out with any questions regarding access to our database. In the meantime, we wish you all an engaging, profitable, but above all, healthy 2022.