What makes customers loyal? Examining how loyalty impacts engagement

by | Oct 20, 2017 | Public Relations

Evolving consumer demands and technology continue to change the way consumers shop—and it’s creating challenges for marketers looking for new ways to engage current and potential shoppers. New research from financial tech firm Blackhawk Network finds that marketers are able to drive consumer engagement with their brand by focusing on consumers’ reasons for being loyal to that brand, including their experience, convenience and payment process.

The study examines why consumers are loyal to brands and how that loyalty impacts their engagement with those brands

“Many marketers understand that building brand loyalty can have a positive impact on driving customer engagement, and our latest research supports that thinking,” said Teri Llach, chief marketing officer at Blackhawk Network, in a news release. “While the amount of choice that consumers have today is making it difficult for brands to bond with customers, our research found that nine out of 10 consumers surveyed said they engage with brands that they are loyal to, and nearly half identify themselves as ‘very engaged.’

“Marketers looking to increase customer engagement should be seeking to maintain and acquire devoted customer relationships by focusing on the factors that are already driving loyalty, like creating a positive customer experience and a seamless payment process,” she added.

Positive customer experiences drive loyalty

Surveyed consumers name a consistently good customer experience (94 percent) as the main reason they remain loyal to a brand. However, other factors, such as convenience (77 percent) and an easy payment process (76 percent) are also important. Surprisingly, lower prices (57 percent) was one of the lowest ranking reasons for loyalty according to surveyed consumers.

Loyal consumers are a brand’s biggest ambassadors

Of the consumers surveyed, most engage with a brand they are loyal to by recommending it to others (86 percent). Just 50 percent of non-loyal consumers would do the same. Marketers might also consider finding ways to build upon their loyal following using their website, social media, targeted branded offers and rebates, which are the other top ways consumers prefer to engage with brands.

Consumers are more engaged with the brands that they are most loyal to

When comparing surveyed shoppers who are brand loyal with shoppers who are not loyal, the findings indicate that loyal shoppers engage with the brand more often through different marketing vehicles. Of the loyal consumers surveyed:

  • Sixty-three percent receive emails from their favorite brand or store about the latest deals and products, compared to 39 percent of non-loyal consumers.
  • Sixty-two percent watch for or take advantage of rebates from their favorite brand or store, versus 44 percent of non-loyal customers.
  • Forty-four percent use their favorite store’s gift cards or egifts, compared to 31 percent of non-loyal customers.
  • Forty-two percent use targeted offers from their favorite store, versus 27 percent of non-loyal customers.

What makes customers loyal? Examining how loyalty impacts engagement

Millennials are more likely to engage with brands

According to the research, millennials are more likely to engage with brands they are loyal to—and in more ways—than any other generation surveyed. Marketers can consider using branded value solutions, such as gift cards, loyalty points, and targeted offers—to help acquire more loyal members of the coveted generation of millennial consumers. For instance, of the loyal consumers surveyed:

  • Fifty-nine percent of millennials used gift cards or egifts for brands or stores they are loyal to, compared to 43 percent of Gen Xers and 32 percent of Baby Boomers.
  • Fifty-five percent of millennials signed up for the reward and/or loyalty program for a brand or store that they are loyal to, compared to just 41 percent of Gen Xers and 36 percent of Baby Boomers.
  • Fifty-two percent of millennials used targeted offers from a brand or store that they are loyal to, compared to 43 percent of Gen Xers and 31 percent of Baby Boomers.
  • Fifty-three percent of millennials have used a mobile app for a brand or store that they are loyal to, which is significantly higher than the number of Baby Boomers (27 percent) and Gen Xers (39 percent) who have done the same.
  • Thirty-two percent of millennials have purchased or used prepaid offers for brands or stores they are loyal to, compared to 19 percent of Gen Xers and just seven percent of Baby Boomers.

Download the ebook here.

“What Makes Customers Loyal?” was an Internet-based survey conducted independently by Leger on behalf of Blackhawk Network in May–June 2017. The sample size included 1,502 American respondents ages 18+.

Richard Carufel
Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 17 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders. Reach him at richard.carufel@bulldogreporter.com; @BulldogReporter