The evolved and well-researched consumers of today demand tailor-made experiences and value-based offerings. They also demand experiences, which offer convenience, value and address their specific requirement while saving time. Walking the tightrope between the demands of consumers who are time-strapped but well-researched, brands need to invest heavily in creating convenient, timesaving, value heavy propositions that tick off all requirement parameters that consumers may have. Apart from ticking off the basic requirement parameters of convenience, time saving, value propositions, brands also need to inspire and build consumer loyalty to ensure stickiness and brand preference even against a cluttered competitive landscape.
KPMG International’s recent report, The Truth about Customer Loyalty, has highlighted that 61% of Indian loyalty programme members feel that they belong to too many programmes. As a result, these individuals not only lose track of their points but may also forget their memberships altogether, and finally lose interest in making an effort to earn rewards, no matter how simple the process may be.
Here are key guidelines that every marketer must stay mindful of throughout the consumer’s journey with the brand in order to stand out from the clutter:
Keeping pace with evolving consumer needs
More often than not, there exists a huge gap between actual consumer needs vis-a-vis what brands takeaway as their understanding about them. This could be due to low frequency consumer sentiment mapping exercises resulting in brands having a lack of real time awareness of actual needs and triggers. In changing economic scenarios, like the one we are facing presently, consumer demands and criteria as well as their spending capacity are constantly evolving. Brands that are successful in timely mapping and analysis of these changes are able to correctly identify the need-gap that they must address. This ensures that they serve a purpose in their consumers' lives, thus making them relevant solution providers which eventually translates into long-term consumer affinity and loyalty towards the brand.
Embracing empathy to build brand affinity
Establishing a strong connection with consumers requires the building of numerous bridges, especially those that resonate on an emotional level. Brands need to not only understand consumer sentiment, but also dial-up their empathy in order to gain their trust which is the first step to establishing deeper, longstanding equity with them. A brand that got this right is South African Tourism, which during the beginning of the pandemic launched campaigns that communicated ‘Don’t travel now, so you can travel later’ and ‘Sacrifice now, celebrate later’ which portrayed genuine concern about the health and safety of travellers while keeping future travel aspiration alive.
Technology empowered consumer experience will be be focus
A recent, LogMeIn AI Customer Experience Study stated that over one-third of consumers cite an average or poor experience with a brand. Businesses on the other hand have a different view on this. 80% of these businesses genuinely believed their customers would give them a favorable review, which was not the case. This disconnect highlights the presence of a major gap in the understanding that businesses have of their consumer’s needs and their takeaways post engaging with the brand.
Consumers in today’s world are more connected than ever. Empowered and connected by technology, they are not hesitant to demand unique and personalised experiences that are shareable on social media as well. Brands must ensure that every single engagement with the consumer is a “wow” experience for them. Leveraging the power of technology and data intervention, brands must aim to deliver a best-in-class user experience to the customer.
In the final analysis, consumers' desire to feel special and valued by brands they engage with, and this goes beyond cash-backs and discounts. Although these attributes are difficult to measure and it is easier to focus on low-hanging fruits like monetary rewards, they are the ones that define a positive brand perception and customer affinity in the long run. Exclusive invitation to events, early access to products or priority customer service are privileges that members do value clubbed with the opportunity to earn loyalty points for future use/spends. These are the ultimate drivers that will result in brand stickiness even in the presence of multiple other brands with similar or better propositions.
The author is SVP, marketing and customer engagement, InterMiles