You have probably seen levellers walk out of bars on learning that their favourite beer brands aren’t available. You could also have seen those travellers who say “I only fly by RwandAir”. But have you ever wondered what influences them to take such extreme stances?
Brand loyalty is not a new phenomenon; it is what every business sets out to achieve.
Have you ever wondered why some people are emotionally attached to a particular cologne, cigarette or beverage, no matter how much you may induce them to change? Well, that now, is brand loyalty.
Simply put, brand loyalty is the consumer’s emotionally-charged decision to buy a specific brand again and again. The consumer perceives that the brand meets their expectations and identifies with them on a personal level. This behavior and decision-making process can be conscious or unconscious, but it is always based on trust that the brand will deliver on the consumer’s expectations.
Brand loyalists cannot be persuaded to buy a substitute brand if their preferred brand is not available. They will check out several stores in search of their preferred brand.
Why should it matter?
It is quite noteworthy for a business to realise that it is always cheaper to retain emotionally-attached and existing customers than it is to acquire new customers.
Remember, brand loyalists are not just repeat buyers; they are also vocal brand advocates that create word-of-mouth marketing which turns into new business. Building brand loyalty should be a strategic imperative for every business.
Brand loyalty to a business, therefore, is an indicator of intangible value as well as a quantifiable measurement of a brand’s success to date and future performance predictions.
For example, you have heard people call every toothpaste Colgate and margarine Blue Band or cigarette Intore or every soda a ‘Fanta’ here in Rwanda. Now imagine the agony those consumers may go through in cases of stock outs.
Because customers believe certain brands fulfill their emotional needs in a unique way, it’s that emotional connection to a brand that separates brand buys from brand loyalty.
For most multinationals, another ingredient called value chain is added to buttress the idea of brand loyalty, which invariably plays a role of making a business a global brand.
Some of the biggest multinationals learnt this long ago. It is the reason you notice strong brand presence in one place than the other. For example, Coca Cola prides of its biggest market niche in Africa, which isn’t the case in Asia and Latin America, where its arch rival Pepsi dominates.
Powerful brands, with a loyal customer reach can, therefore, withstand most challenges; be it an economic recession or corporate re-organisation within the business itself.
Brand loyalty serves both parties equally well as consumers will be assured of a desired standard or quality delivered through their desired brands and the company will have an obvious market with which its brands relate personally.
How to create brand loyalty
For firms to create a mental fixation to a particular brand in the average consumer’s mind, it needs a lot of planning besides putting a product on the shelf.
Firms should most importantly concentrate on a niche in which they have a competitive edge over rivals and then ensure accessibility of the product.
The more easily and conveniently a product is availed to a consumer, the more the attachment. It is one principle that defies the rule of familiarity breeding contempt.
The connection ability of a firm through captivating slogans say, “Smooth all the way” for Embassy cigarettes, and quick adoption of new language driven by the audience like “Knowless” for the 500ml Primus beer can easily get consumers affixed to a brand.
For as long as the branding strategies are aligned in a manner to entice consumers into thinking only of your brand and having the capability to permanently retain such thoughts, then brand loyalty has taken place.
The writer is a marketer.