Consumer loyalty is more difficult than ever for retailers to attain. While many retailers compete for shoppers from all generations, millennials are particularly difficult to entice. A Daymon Worldwide global study from 2018 found that only 29% of millennials usually buy the same brand, of a particular product, compared with 35% of Gen Xers, for example.
Yet, it is as important as ever for a company’s sustainability to crack the consumer loyalty code. Successful programs pave the way to increased sales and can drive market share. In addition, today’s business models for loyalty programs can be both affordable and sustainable. Here are 3 ways to improve loyalty in 2019.
Customers want to understand a retailer’s values and history. People purchase at retailers which complement their perceptions of themselves — either with who they are or who they aspire to be. Take Patagonia as an example. The outdoor outfitter donates 1% of its profits to grassroots environmental organizations. That charitable mission illustrates to its customers they are not only in the business of selling clothing that customers can use to enjoy the outdoors, but also that it is committed to preserving the environment. Like-minded shoppers return to the retailer because they believe their money will be funneled to a cause they are proud to support. Patagonia further strengthened that customer bond last November when it announced it was giving back $10 million in tax cuts to grassroots environmental organizations.
Retailers that share information about their causes, their internal policies, and their goals promote a feeling of inclusivity with their customers. Loyalty depends on feeling a part of something, and the more a retailer shares, the more closely aligned a customer may feel. That atmosphere of community belonging is essential to the success of a loyalty program.
Create a sense of community
The moment a shopper buys an item, he or she becomes part of that retailer’s community. It is the retailer’s job to determine how to create a sense of belonging for its customers, one that will not only celebrate them but also illustrate how much customers are valued. Retailers can further drive loyalty by providing unique experiences. For example, cookware retailer Williams Sonoma offers cooking classes for all ages, taught by chefs and culinary specialists. It also sponsors store events such as book signings and technique classes.
Retailers can provide community very subtly, where purchasing products entices customers to become part of something bigger.
Earning consumer loyalty requires determining what needs customers want to fill, working to satisfy them, and exceeding their expectations. Technology can help reach that goal. Chatbots, for example, can be programmed to log key data points and track customers’ purchasing patterns in order to make personalized recommendations.
Many shoppers want personalized ecommerce experiences, but very few retailers provide it. For example, a Bazzarvoice survey last year reported that across industries, 51% of shoppers say a personalized home page showing products they are looking for is or would be useful. However, only 25% say they have experienced that, and fewer than 20% say the product recommendations they do receive are relevant.
Building and keeping brand loyalty presents a challenge for today’s retailers, as they try to tap into new and innovative methods to appeal to existing and potential customers. With the right knowledge and tools, retailers can create fresh ways to keep shoppers coming back for more.