Loyalty marketers are acutely focused on how their programs engage consumers to sustain customer loyalty. Marketers must think beyond their loyalty program to the overall brand experience, where the big ‘L’ is established, to achieve optimal success. So what do I mean by the big ‘L’? I define it as the passion, dedication, feelings, emotional connection and trust consumers establish with your brand that motivates them to continue their purchases and move through the customer lifecycle towards lifetime brand loyalty.
As digital channels push retailers in particular to transform, brands across verticals need to find their niche to establish ‘L’oyalty. Walmart, for example, positions itself as a ‘service king,’ and continues to focus on customer service as they set-up their stores to meet the evolving needs of their shoppers. The brand’s endless aisles strategy combines the in-store and online shopping consumer experience enabling customers to access a smart-station (aisle kiosk) to look up an item, order it with free shipping to their home and more to create a seamless shopping experience and convenience for in store shoppers. As Jeff Muench, Senior Director of Business Development of Walmart stated, “By rethinking stores and testing new ideas with customers in real-life stores, we’re improving customer’s experiences and making it easier than ever for them to get what they need as quickly and easily as possible.”
In addition to the experience factor, as mentioned, trust is an integral component of loyalty. Chevrolet’s “you pay what we pay, not a cent more” campaign, (in which the employee’s pricing discounts are extended to customers), is a great example of this. Chevrolet established trust with customers by being transparent that the price customers received was honest, fair and a good deal. When consumers experience trust and loyalty of a brand through marketing communications and a brands’ employees, they form a connection that helps to establish ‘L’oyalty.
Each and every brand needs to find what their niche is, and their unique differentiator to establish brand loyalty. This means connecting loyalty programs (little l) to the overall brand experience (big L). When I think of these together, the pizza powerhouse Domino’s comes to mind. The Domino’s brand (‘big L’) reflects trust, convenience (speedy service, late night hours), multiple options, affordability and more. And, their Piece of the Pie Rewards® Program (‘little l’) compliments their overall brand strategy offering both transactional (free pizza) and experiential (stock options) rewards for its members. Additionally, Domino’s instills trust in its customers with programs like a carryout insurance policy that allows for customers to get a replacement pizza within two hours of ordering if it becomes damaged.
So, unfold what your brands’ differentiating factor is. What creates ‘the stickiness’ between you and your customer? And make sure you’re able to enable your differentiating factor with your people, processes and technology.