Emotionally loyal consumers are, arguably, the most important customer group for retailers. These are the shoppers who care about your message and vision, who are interested in connecting to like-minded people, and who will stick with you long-term, supporting your brand through good and hard times.
According to research by the Harvard Business Review, highly emotional customers will buy their favorite brand in 82% of cases. To make a comparison, people whose shopping behavior is not driven by emotions tend to switch brand allegiance in 62% of cases. These shoppers choose products based not on past experiences, but on what currently fulfils their needs.
Nevertheless, emotional loyalty comes at a price. These are customers who want to feel appreciated, and expect to be recognized by their favorite brands. And since all customers are not the same, you must implement differentiated loyalty strategies that take into account your customers’ different personality types, and make them all feel acknowledged and important.
The goal of a successful loyalty strategy is to build a tight bond between emotional motivators (the feelings that push your customers to buy) and actual purchase behavior. Different types of retailers will have different motivators. These, in turn, can trigger different consumer personality types.
For instance, a furniture store may accelerate purchasing behavior with an app which customers can use to visualize furniture into a room. This type of incentive can work well in the home décor sector, but it would not be an effective strategy for, say, a grocery store. At the same time, this incentive may work well for some types of customers, and be not as effective, or even inappropriate for others. What defines a successful loyalty strategy strongly depends on the category you operate in, the brands you sell, your customer segment, and even where each customer is in the customer journey.
Customer journey is the name given to the sum of each customer’s experiences and interactions with a brand or retailer, starting from discovery, and finishing with the decision to purchase. Different customers can have different journeys, and varied needs. For example, a wealthy couple looking for new furniture may prefer getting personal assistance in-store over using a standardized app. On the other hand, a young couple who thoroughly researched sofa options before entering the store may not be looking for advice. Instead, they might be interested in ways to save time and money while completing the purchase of the item they already selected. For them, quick service and a small discount would be preferable over personalized service.
On top of all this, you must also consider that as the journey progresses, and customers get more knowledgeable about the various options in the market and how they fit their requirements, the customer’s needs change.
So how can you satisfy consumers in different moments of their journey, and make them feel special evert step of the way? Although it looks very complicated, there are a few characteristics and demands customers share. Here are four must-dos that will help you tie emotionally involved customers to your business, wherever they are in their journey:
When planning your loyalty strategy, remember that 95% of customers’ decisions are triggered subconsciously by emotions. To elicit the right emotions, consider the four points above, and don’t forget to add moments that will bring surprise and delight.
By creating an emotional connection, you can really impact shopping behavior. The dopamine rush, and relative good feelings, that you trigger will make your customers eager to repeat the experience as often as possible. To better achieve this effect, you should always offer direct rewards – that is, let gifts follow actions straight away. Meaning, offer customers an extra gift as they are purchasing a certain item, rather than sending them the gift home a few weeks later.
Some brands are masters at using emotions to tie customers to their business. Take, for instance, these four brands which operate in different sectors, but are all as successful in creating emotional loyalty: Disney, TOMS Shoes, Dove, and Coca Cola.
According to the Harvard Business Review, emotional customers are more valuable than even customers your most satisfied customers. They:
As you enact your loyalty strategies, try to keep the right balance between actions aimed at attracting new customers and making them emotionally loyal on the one hand, and retention strategies to keep current customer happy on the other hand. Finding the right equilibrium between building new brand fans and maintaining current ones is key to keep your brand thriving through easy and tough times.