Every one of us have probably been a member of a brand loyalty program at one point or another. Whether it’s a card collecting stamps for a free cup of coffee or a more in-depth credit-card like system that tracks our spending and rewards us accordingly, it’s an important part of modern consumerism. But do they represent brand or customer loyalty?
On the surface, brand loyalty and customer loyalty might seem like they are (at the very least) reading from the same hymn sheet. However, there are not only notable differences between what they represent but also reasons why they need to feed into and relate to each other to create genuine loyalty. Here, we’ll explain exactly what each represent and how they can be cultivated and exploited.
What is brand loyalty?
Have you ever been out with somebody who, when offered a Pepsi instead of a Coke, just flat-out refuses? That, in a nutshell, is brand loyalty. If somebody has such a positive relationship with a specific product then they have a sort of ownership over the brand. Indeed, ask many coffee drinkers and they will have their own brand that they’ll always go for, no matter the price. This is the kind of loyalty that takes many years to build up but once it’s been cultivated it can last a lifetime.
What is customer loyalty?
Customer loyalty is a little easier to engender. It means the customer is loyal to a business because they continue to offer them incentives. They would probably move to another brand if that brand offered an incentive great enough but then it’s up to you to win those customers back. Building customer loyalty is the general purpose of most marketing campaigns as it’s the easiest and fasting thing to achieve. But over time, that customer loyalty can take root and built into brand loyalty. It’s up to the brands to hold onto the customer long enough for this to happen.
What does it mean for your brand?
This all comes down to how well you know your customers. Are you able to personalise your service or your products to appeal to these customers and are you doing enough to gain audience insight? For most brands it’s all about figuring out what the target audience is and then researching ways to build loyalty within these audience groups. Customer loyalty programs are a great start but it should always go deeper than that.
You will only build a truly loyal audience if you can prove you know your audience and know how to provide what they want and what they need even if they don’t necessarily know themselves. This is what will set the brands of the future apart from the brands of the past and thanks to advances in AI and machine learning, it’s not as far-fetched as you might think.