Your brand is doing well, sales are healthy, your market share is good and margins aren’t bad either. Of course, there is pressure on you to do better, but let’s be honest it is pretty good as it is.
But how resilient is your brand? How is it affected by competitive advertising or promotions? How will it hold up if a competitor comes out with a new product improvement or a completely new player enters your market with a shiny new solution?
Undoubtedly, if you are doing OK, your brand has plenty of good features and does what your consumers expect of it. But presumably, so do your competitors.
Your consumers’ loyalty to your brand goes beyond its rational features. Loyalty is an emotion. Sometimes it is conscious “I love this brand because…”, but often it is unconscious, “This is the one that I always buy”. Either way, the resilience of your brand lays in these emotions. How easily can your competitors’ actions or a new product penetrate the consumers emotional attachment to your brand and change their behaviour?
The stronger the emotional attachment the harder it is for competitors to pull your consumers away. Unfortunately, all too often, consumers loyalty to our brands is, in fact, quite tenuous and simple activities such as a price promotion or a new feature will undermine the loyalty and pull consumers away. A small percentage loss of consumers can have a significant affect upon the bottom line.
Focusing upon the psychology of your consumers’ loyalty, what create and sustains that loyalty, how you can deepen and defend it, can make a huge difference to the way your brand performs. Not only in the face of competitive action but also societal and economic changes, evolving trends, fashions and attitudes.
In our experience, brand owners often have a very poor understanding of what drives loyalty to their brand. They focus upon product features, availability, price, loyalty schemes, etc. While these are clearly important, consumers are invariably more interested in more ethereal and prosaic things such as their personal or family’s history with the brand, how it fits into their home or their lives, how it makes them feel.
While each loyal consumer will have their own story with the brand, there is always a common theme. An emotion or set of emotions that create the loyalty bond.
When you understand this, you can pull upon these threads. You can change your communication to deepen these ties, to attract new consumers and create loyalty among more occasional users.
You can identify the aspects of your product experience that create and maintain this loyalty and strengthen them and, at least as importantly, you can ensure that future product “improvements” do not damage or remove these critical features.
You can find more ways within your brand communication and experience to create even greater loyalty to your brand.
Sometimes these critical features that generate loyalty to your brand are directly related t how it does what it does. Often, they have nothing to do with its rational performance and more to do with how your consumers relate to your brand.
As a brand owner, you need to step back from all that you know and understand about your category and your brand and find how consumers relate to your brand and your product.
When you can do this you can build a brand that is not only more resilient to competitive activities and market changes, but is also growing your market share.
Chris Lukehurst is a Consumer Psychologist and a Director at The Marketing Clinic:
Understanding the connections between the consumer experience