Brand Loyalty: Pulling the levers on your brand to connect with consumers

By Piers Lee, Managing Director, BVA BDRC Asia

Discover the power of your brand!

As one of the top contenders in your category, your brand enjoys a loyal following, with customers coming back for more, often without a second thought. Some willingly pay a premium for your products and happily recommend them to others.

But what sets your brand apart? To unleash its true potential, brand managers must harness their brand’s strengths through strategic corporate communications. Understanding the key attributes that define your brand’s equity is essential, but the real challenge lies in resonating with consumers on a profound level.

The BVA BDRC Brand Loyalty Framework is a means for understanding the context of customer loyalty to your brand within a specific category, and how this can be leveraged.

We identify eight compelling connections that customers form with brands that can be applied in both the B2C and B2B categories. These connections vary in strength across categories and specific brands and can apply to more than one dimension within our framework. Through market research, we pinpoint where and how these constructs thrive for some brands and miss the mark for others.

Heritage: In our ever-changing world, certain brands have become more than just names; they have become ingrained in our very surroundings, offering us a sense of safety and reassurance. They stand the test of time, serving as steadfast beacons in a sea of uncertainty. Think of the leading quick-service restaurants, retailers, and supermarkets that have been part of our neighbourhoods since childhood. Or those established FMCG brands that have never let us down, providing a comforting sense of connection and security, always there when we need them. These brands are more than just products; they are the bedrock of our lives, a constant presence we can rely on.

Shared beliefs: Brands that connect with our beliefs hit the mark! News channels, publications, and charities that share our ideals win our loyalty. Political, religious, and social justice alignment can matter for some, as does a focus on environmental, social, and governance values. But beware, brands that stray from the values of their core customer base can face harsh consumer backlash – there are multiple examples from recent times!

Evangelism: This is a fusion of ‘Heritage’ and ‘Shared beliefs’, but with a cultural bond that is remarkably intimate. It is the perfect recipe for fashion, automotive, and luxury brands, such that owning their products becomes a powerful expression of the consumer’s identity.

Duty: This is when people feel compelled to back a brand. In diverse and fickle consumer markets, duty might seem rare, but it kicks in when individuals feel obliged to support local businesses, home-grown brands, or family-run enterprises out of a strong sense of responsibility.

Ownership: With ‘Duty’ in mind, some consumers embrace ownership. While this dimension is not widespread, some consumers opt for mutual financial institutions or non-profits that give back all profits to members. Country clubs tap into this shared ownership spirit, motivating members to maximise services for the greater good. Owning a share in your employer also helps to build loyalty, or at least a commitment to the employer until ownership can be converted into reward.

Reciprocity: This applies more in a B2B market environment, where brands might reward the customer by also using their services. In some cultures, the compelling tradition of ‘returning a favour’ fosters mutual trust and strengthens bonds between trading partners.

Security: One can find security in ‘Heritage’ brands, but true security lies with brands that deliver on the basics of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. While exploring abroad, some consumers rely on hotel brands that will guarantee their safety in unfamiliar environments. Trustworthy airlines, banks, and insurance companies also safeguard the basic needs of safety.

Wow factor: Some brands deliver on ‘Security’, but others take it up a few notches to the highest level of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs – wowing consumers with exceptional service and functionality. Think consumer electronics and luxury goods, where super-functionality and service set the bar high!

The BVA BDRC Loyalty Framework can unlock your brand’s potential by analysing its context within its category. Using the latest qualitative and quantitative research methods, we pinpoint opportunities for you to connect with your target audiences.

Discover your brand’s position and let us guide you to leverage it for maximum impact. Contact Piers Lee, MD of BVA BDRC Asia: piers.lee@bdrc-asia.com.

This article was first published in the Q3 2023 edition of Asia Research Media

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