Brands that successfully connect with a consumer’s core values are significantly more likely to set a foundation for brand fidelity, advocacy, evangelism and, ultimately, obsession—and U.S. brands are missing a tremendous customer opportunity by failing to make this connection, according to marketing tech firm Rakuten Marketing’s latest Insights report, What Makes People Love the Brands They Love.
The report provides an in-depth look at the current state of marketing, consumer loyalty behavior trends, brand applicability and guidance to drive greater customer brand obsession, and key data and insights.
In this study, more than 1,500 consumers were polled on the reasons they do or do not engage with brands. Rakuten analyzed and combined these responses with advertising performance data collected from approximately one million consumers who made over 1.2 million purchase transactions. They discovered that a staggering 68 percent of study respondents stated no loyalty to any one brand—and for the 32 percent who were brand loyal, lifetime engagement was a primary driver.
The study also introduced the concept of a “brand affinity hierarchy,” which outlines six stages of consumer engagement that enable marketers to better understand what degree brands are achieving human-centric brand relationship-building with their consumers.
“The customer-to-brand relationship is invaluable to the success of every brand, and in today’s marketing arena, where technology and data takes precedence, marketers can lose sight of this,” said Bridget Fletcher, marketing VP at Rakuten, in a news release. “This study shows the critical importance for brands to establish meaningful consumer connections—ones that are authentic, emotionally-driven and fueled or facilitated with technology and data. Consumers look for connections, not just transactions.”
The study also analyzed the value of repeat customers by analyzing purchase behaviors and found a steady performance improvement as consumer purchases increased. Not surprising, when consumers make more purchases and purchase more frequently, brand value increases.
The study showed that, as consumers transition from being acquainted with a brand (2-3 purchases) to trusting a brand (4-5 purchases), they develop a relationship where they are more likely to purchase again. This was demonstrated by a 1.9x increase in customer value between second (brand acquaintance) and fourth (brand trust) purchases. The value of the brand increased as purchases increased, demonstrated by a 7.2x increase in customer value between the ninth (brand fidelity) and first purchases (brand awareness) and an 9.7x increase in customer value between the twelfth (brand evangelism) and the first purchases (brand awareness).
“Attracting and keeping loyal customers is a bigger challenge than ever in our current retail environment. The opportunity to build loyalty has shifted online, as consumers become increasingly less engaged with brick-and-mortar experiences, putting advertisers in competition with Amazon and Google to sell their own products,” said Rakuten CEO Tony Zito, in the release.
“It’s critical that brands leverage advertising strategies that bring new consumers to their own online storefronts, and keep existing customers coming back, so they don’t lose their loyal customers to another platform. We’re dedicated to helping brands strategically leverage our Integrated Marketing Solutions to achieve this, so they can build the affinity and trust required to grow their audience of loyal customers, repeat purchasers and brand evangelists.”