How Companies Cultivate Brand Loyalty
You know those people-the friends who refuse to buy anything but Lucky Brand jeans although other brands are cheaper, or the cousin who has cultivated a life-long love of Coca-Cola, although others may claim that Pepsi is better. These are the die-hards, those who are so loyal to a particular brand that they would not even consider purchasing anything else. You may ask yourself why some brands are able to cultivate such fervent brand loyalty. Plus, which brands are able to create, and sustain such loyalty, even during crises? A group of experts offers its opinions on companies that get it right.
Tech Product: Apple
Most brand strategists will agree that Apple is by far one of the most valued brands worldwide. The reason for this, according to Debra Cynn of the New England Consulting Group, is that “they [designers and executives] have made it easy to integrate all of their products [Macs, iPods, iPhones, iPads, etc].” Adds Josh Loebner, a strategist for the brand consulting firm DesignSensory, Inc., “[Apple has] created a culture of cool tech.” Moreover, “[such] loyalty is built by brand experiences and a culture of exclusivity and recognition for those in the club.” In other words, those with Apple computers or iPhones feel connected to their brand; having such brand items makes them appear tech savvy.
Automotive Brand: Toyota
This may surprise some given all the headlines over the past year but, according to many brand strategists, Toyota has one of the most loyal fan bases within the entire automotive industry. Cynn suggests that this is due to their “phenomenally successful brand strategies worldwide.” Lisa Merriam of Merriam Associates, a worldwide marketing firm specializing in brand strategy, further explains Toyota’s appeal: “The makers of Toyota have invested in delivering on a clear brand promise for decades. Customers have a great dealer level experience buying and servicing their cars. Many brand users are in their cars interacting with the product every day. Despite the massive recalls of last year (that continue through this year), the brand still ranks on the top in terms of reputation and loyalty. While sales dipped during the recall crisis, they have fully recovered and people still talk of 'love' when they talk of their Toyotas.” Why is this so? According to experts, in spite of the recalls, Toyota dealers have warned their customers of the recalls and worked to speedily rectify the problem, answering consumer questions and fixing their vehicles to ensure that they were safe.
Luxury Brand: Tiffany’s
According to Cynn of the New England Consulting Group, Tiffany’s also creates brand loyalty by catching potential customers at an early age, “providing cradle to grave products to its customer base.” There is something for consumers (at least wealthier consumers) at Tiffany’s from silver baby china to signature engagement rings to anniversary pendants. Plus, who doesn't recognize and maybe even covet that little blue box?!
Food Chain: Chipotle
Cynn explains that Chipotle excels at creating loyalty within it's environmentally conscious customer base with its “Food with Integrity” campaign. By sourcing organic and homegrown food “when practical” and working to support local farmers, Chipotle actively works to create environmentally sustainable products.
It is true that the publicists and strategists behind these products have worked hard to cultivate brand loyalty, whether through fostering customer exclusivity, offering excellent customer services, exposing people to a particular brand at an early age, or creating products with a purpose, yet the bottom line is still simple: the best products for customers will still be the ones that sell. Merriam sums it up: “Loyalty is a result, not a method. It has almost nothing to do with the advertising and messages put out by the brand and everything to do with the experience with the brand and the product.”
What do you think? Do you like the brands above? What are your can't-do-without brands and why are you hooked?