How will brand loyalty be affected by consumer habits in 2020? Will cheaper brands thrive, or will brands that align with consumer views retain their customers?
At HeX, we’ve seen a growing trend surrounding brand loyalty in recent years. It got us thinking, how will these consumer habits impact brands this year?
As you may know, we’re inclusion advocates, ensuring websites and e-commerce stores are available to as many people as possible. But, how can these brands retain customers? How can these online websites ensure they are keeping customers loyal to the brand?
Am I pricing my products and services correctly?
In a money-conscious world, it’s only right that the price of a product or service can heavily influence a customer’s decision to purchase products elsewhere.
Customers are always trying to reduce the risks when they are faced with the need or desire to buy something. Much of the time, a reduced price means a reduced financial risk, for consumers should the product not fulfil the need, or break.
Consumers have an expectation of price when they go to purchase a product. Essentially, if the price is much lower than their expectation, there’s less chance that a consumer would buy the product, as it could be perceived as poor quality. On the opposite end of the spectrum, a product too pricey would deter consumers.
Do some user research, speak to your customers, ask them “realistically, what would you pay for this?”, work out the average price, then set a price based on your customers’ feedback. After all, it’s them who’ll be giving you business.
How do I stay in touch with my customers and their values?
In recent years there has been an increasing focus around the consumer aligning themselves with brands that they are purchasing from.
In a socially responsible world, it’s essential for consumers, that the brands they purchase from, have the same beliefs as them. Often, brands are purposely ‘taking sides’ in order to increase the loyalty of those niche audiences.
This is a perfect marketing tactic for small businesses who are likely to align with specific niche beliefs and potentially grow their customer base. Being a faceless and diplomatic business can often deter customers – instead, inject some personality and passion behind causes you care about. In fact, 70% of consumers say that it’s important for brands to take a public stand on issues, with 55% of consumers saying they would actively boycott a brand that doesn’t align with their beliefs.
We’ve seen this very thing occur to brands. Lots of disabled consumers have started to boycott brands that don’t provide assistance for disabled people or actively discriminate. Rightly so, minority groups are gaining a strong voice thanks to social media, and any brand that aligns itself unfavourably to people could be in for a shock!
How does good customer service boost your business?
In a customer-focused economy, it’s incredibly important to remain connected with customers, both those who look favourably upon your business, and those that do not.
Consumers agree, especially in the digital age, that staying connected is incredibly important. Keeping in touch with customers via email about the progress of their orders and products they may like has become a great income stream from companies such as Amazon. According to HubSpot, 73 per cent of millennials prefer communications from businesses to come via email. And 59% of people say marketing emails influence their purchase decisions.
Experts have said that brands that interact with consumers on social media are more likely to drive repeat business. According to Sprout Social, 53% of consumers say they are more likely to buy from brands that are transparent on social media.
Similarly, those that deal with complaints in a way that pleases the consumer are more likely to get repeat business from that same person. More often than not, a brand that amicably resolves an issue is viewed more favourably than one that a consumer has never interacted with before. Growing the confidence of the individual, to believe that they are in safe hands, even when things go wrong, is vital to customer retention and boosts the loyalty.
Just like business beliefs, HeX has seen brands chastised for their customer service skills when it comes to serving disabled customers. Twitter account Don’t Want Our Cash actively points out businesses and their staff that actively discriminate against customers. Brands who do so, can now expect to be called out. On the other hand, those who provide good customer service are likely to be reviewed on platforms like AccessAdvisr.
Establishing your brand as a trustworthy expert
A customer being able to trust in a brand to deliver is dependent on the above points; having prices that match expectation, having beliefs that align with their own and having great customer service. In fact, trust is so important that more than 81% of consumers said that knowing that a business is trustworthy is one of the most important factors.
Whilst the above points establish a business as trustworthy, it doesn’t complete the puzzle. Trust directly correlates to expertise. The more customers that view you as an expert, the more likely they are to trust you. Positioning yourself as an expert is a challenge, but there are a few ways that this can be done:
- Publish high quality content – This allows you to publish your own opinions and guidance on what works well. Sharing this can help establish a brand as an expert in their field.
- Write a publication – When looking for expert advice, people often turn to research papers or books. Publishing one of these, whilst a time consuming activity, is a great way to establish brand authority and expertise.
- Build a social media following – One that perhaps might not be as obvious is social media. Building an audience by posting nuggets of expert advice or opinion can establish a business as an expert in their field.
- Create informative videos – Another great way to establish expertise, is by producing ‘How-to’ and ‘Explainer’ videos for consumers on video sharing platforms like YouTube.
The above list is by no means exhaustive, but things that can be implemented as part of a broader marketing strategy that helps position the business as an expert authority. The key to this, is publishing content that can actually provide potential customers with information that works and is valuable.
Establishing expertise and being a market leader is not a strategy that can take place overnight and is one that should be established over a long period of time.
Why brand loyalty matters to businesses
A powerful brand, with a loyal customer, can withstand almost any change or factor thrown at it. People who are ‘brand loyal’ will continue to keep on buying the brands they love.
Brand loyalty equates to long-term and sustainable business growth and success. For as long as loyal customers keep buying your products and marketing these products to their network, you can expect sales.
Brand equity is a direct result of brand loyalty. In other words, brand loyalty is an indicator of intangible value, as well as quantifiable measurement of the overall success of the brand.
Emotional attachment is something that far exceeds a lot of other purchasing decisions.
Reaching a wider customer base
Despite growing fears, amongst brand leaders, that consumers will move away from them to hunt for bigger or better deals elsewhere, there is evidence that there are still loyal customers out there who won’t switch.
Looking at the evidence by Scope Big Hack, a disabled consumer who finds a brand that is able to facilitate a need will shop there as opposed to a place that cannot facilitate the purchase. Looking at the Purple Pound for example, disabled users who use assistive technology to access the internet are more likely to navigate away from a site if they are unable to use properly with their assistive tech and move on to a site that is able to facilitate the purchase.
More often than not, the accessible site is not the cheapest, but it provides the easiest and most convenient option for the disabled user. And this is common in many different industries, whilst users may be able to find better deals elsewhere, they are sticking with what they know works, and brands that service their needs.
Which is why businesses should not be looking at the overall cost of how much it will cost to fix a specific issue or how much it’ll be to make the website accessible, a focus should be put on the overall spending power of the audience. If you take in the disabled market, they have a spending power of £274billion in the UK. Can your business afford to lose even 0.1% of that?
It’s true that in any industry, there will be people who dart about looking for the best discount or deal, but just as strong, there will be consumers who remain completely brand loyal. This decision all comes down to convenience and current satisfaction levels. Namely, why would someone switch to a cheaper product on a different website or shop when they can conveniently visit the same one that they’ve been going to for the last five (or so) years, and one that has never dissatisfied them?
And it’s a reason why increasing focus has been made on customer service levels of main, and existing brand leaders. Customer services, trust, expertise, price and the business’ beliefs are key to keeping people loyal. And if businesses continue to offer a good level of these four principles, they will maintain loyal customers.
Need help with customer loyalty?
If you need help making sure disabled users remain loyal to your site by making it accessible, we can help! We can also help in developing a marketing strategy to help assert your expertise to consumers and make you stand out in the crowd.