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The new reality of brand loyalty: Consumers want brands to earn it beyond the purchase

by | Mar 8, 2022 | Public Relations

Just how hard do brands have to work to earn loyalty that drives positive business outcomes amid ever-rising consumer expectations, supply chain disruptions, and less access to third-party data? New research from e-commerce marketing platform Yotpo reveals that 40 percent of global shoppers said they’d need to buy from a brand five or more times before they would consider themselves loyal—an 11 percent increase YoY.

Additional findings from the firm’s annual State of Brand Loyalty survey further prove that today’s consumers want to feel valued every time they shop—and they expect their relationships with brands to go far beyond the transaction.

Top of mind for consumers is how their personal information is being used

Data transparency is incredibly important, and the majority of consumers (68 percent) are willing to share information with brands they love in exchange for more personalized loyalty experiences and rewards. Consumers also expect more from the brands they do business with, beyond quality products and services and superior customer support—84 percent of respondents overwhelmingly agree that they’re more inclined to buy from a brand whose values align with their own. What’s more, bad business practices related to the mistreatment of workers or the environment are the top reasons that would discourage customer loyalty.

“Long-term loyalty takes time and repeated positive interactions with a brand that go far beyond points or VIP tiers. While rewarding customer behavior is one piece of the puzzle, gaining emotional loyalty can have an exponential effect on eCommerce growth,” said Jordan Gutman, GM of loyalty at Yotpo, in a news release. “Every customer touchpoint, from website to email to text message, presents a huge opportunity for brands to engage in a meaningful way. And loyalty program data can take those interactions to the next level. As marketers continue to shift their focus to customer retention, a strategic loyalty program will deliver hyper-relevant, personalized experiences that keep shoppers coming back.”

How shoppers define brand loyalty

  • To the majority of global consumers (80 percent), being loyal means they “tend to buy from the same brand.” Other answers included:
    • “I recommend the brands to others” (47 percent).
    • “I’m proud to be associated with the brand” (43 percent).
    • “I buy from the brand despite cheaper competitors” (42 percent).
  • Respondents ranked loyalty programs as the top experience brands could provide to make them more loyal (69 percent), followed by simple and easy to understand return policies (47 percent); positive on-site search and mobile-friendly experiences (both 46 percent), and rewards for subscriptions (45 percent).
    • 83 percent said belonging to a loyalty program influences their decision to buy again from a brand.

Consumers’ values converge with brands

  • The majority of global consumers (85 percent) agree that they’re more inclined to buy from a brand whose values align with their own.
    • This figure jumps to over 90 percent for Gen Z respondents.
  • Bad business practices discourage consumers from being loyal to any brand:
    • Supply chain partnerships with factories that mistreat employees (48 percent).
    • An affiliation with a big polluter (22 percent).
  • Shoppers want to know exactly how their data is being used by brands:
    • 81 percent of consumers said data transparency is important to them.
    • Most shoppers (68 percent) are willing to share personal information with brands they love in exchange for personalized offers, tailored discounts, exclusive experiences, and other loyalty perks, including:
      • Email (81 percent)
      • Name (75 percent)
      • Birthday (70 percent)
      • Product preferences, like clothing styles (55 percent)
      • Product specifications, like clothing sizes (50 percent)

I would do anything for loyalty, but i won’t do that

  • Additional findings show what consumers will do for a brand they’re loyal to…
    • 65 percent said they’d sign up for a loyalty program, 58 percent for emails.
    • Rather than go to a competitor, 59 percent would wait to purchase until their favorite brand’s products were back in stock.
  • …As well as reasons a brand would lose their loyalty:
    • Bad customer service was cited by 71 percent of respondents, followed by a brand’s values not being in line with the consumer’s (48 percent).
    • 43 percent said too many messages/too much spam, while 30 percent admit that awkward or “cringe-worthy” social media content would cause them to lose their loyalty.

Strategies for earning customer love and loyalty

While consumers may have been more emotionally invested in their favorite brands during the pandemic, the onus is now on brands to earn shoppers’ emotional loyalty. Building true emotional loyalty requires crafting journeys, forming storylines, and creating more organic and deeper reasons for why consumers would choose to deliberately spend time with your brand and the experience it provides.
For example, tentree, a sustainable fashion brand and Yotpo customer, prioritizes eco-consciousness at every touchpoint. Their engaging and interactive loyalty program, Impact Wallet, allows members to track their personal impact on sustainability.

“When building our loyalty program, we started with a central question: ‘How do we make our brand mission resonate with members while also turning them into repeat buyers?’ We knew customers would be interested in a program where they could actually see the positive impact made on the environment, and the Impact Wallet was a perfect solution,” said Shawn McIntyre, director, digital, at tentree, in the release. “By structuring our loyalty program around social responsibility, we’re able to reinforce our brand mission and allow shoppers to play an active role in combating climate change.”

Download the full report here.

Yotpo’s 2022 State of Brand Loyalty presents findings from a survey of 3,800 respondents aged 16+ across the U.S., UK, Australia, France, and Germany, conducted by the company via Pollfish in December 2021.

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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 12 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders. Reach him at richardc@bulldogreporter.com; @BulldogReporter

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