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Customer Loyalty: What to watch out for in 2022

Happy customers make for brand advocates and while customer retention is important to every organisation – loyalty is hard to win – especially when one single customer experience can be broadcast to other consumers in just a few clicks.

Many commonly accepted truths about loyalty and the retail industry were thrown into question in the onset of COVID-19, with the last few years having a profound impact on marketing, customer retention and, most importantly, brand loyalty.

More than 70% of companies across a wide range of sectors say they will revamp their loyalty scheme. As the brand loyalty landscape changes (especially among Generation Z and millennials) brands realise the importance of retaining and engaging customers in line with evolving shopper behaviour.

Brandwatch recently partnered with GWI to answer questions around customer advocacy and loyalty. GWI’s insight tracks brand advocacy quarterly from 180,000+ internet users. One question asked is ‘What would motivate you to promote your favourite brand online?’ – it has 3 consistent top responses:

  • High quality products
  • Rewards such as discounts and free gifts
  • Great customer service

Brandwatch’s social research indicates that the following themes underpinned some of the top responses:

  • Price/value for money
  • Quality
  • Delivery options

What inspires Brand Loyalty?
In a separate study, 77% said product was the top motivator, followed by price (59%) and service (28%). These attributes are also reflected in 4imprint’s own research findings around brand loyalty among the some of the best brands. More than half (52%) of those that we surveyed said that price was the top reason for choosing a brand and remaining loyal to it, followed by reliability (55%) and value (49%).

Making it into customers’ hearts is a challenge – how many times does a customer have to buy from the same brand before they’re considered loyal? More than 42% of shoppers say that they need to make five or more purchases before considering themselves a loyal brand customer. Many online brands are not yet tapping into that loyalty – only a fifth of shoppers said they are loyal to online brands.

Brand Detraction
On the flip-side of customer advocacy is brand detraction – where customers post more negative than positive comments about their online experience. According to Brandwatch’s findings, the volume of brand detractions posts is 20% higher than brand loyalty discussions.

The most common detractor topic for customers discussing top retail brands online was ‘delivery service or options’. This is followed by ‘customer service’ as well as ‘quality of products’. Analysis of online conversations around ‘sustainability’ reveals that more than half of conversations relate to brands using too much plastic in packaging and when shipping products.

Issues & Trends

  • While big retailers have great advantages in their cost-cutting abilities, older customers are more passionate about supporting local companies. Generally, customers who discuss supporting small businesses over big retail brands are serious about their commitment in the year ahead.
  • Delivery is key to those customers that might advocate for retail brands. Ironing out fulfilment and delivery issues should be a priority – findings show that it’ll lead to happier, more loyal customers, more online advocacy and less online detraction.
  • Analysis of online conversations about sustainability reveals that more than half (52%) want to see brands creating products with less packaging and a further 51% want to see more product with recycled packaging.
  • Generation Z and millennials are twice as likely than older generations to believe their individual impact doesn’t make a difference when recycling and adopting reusable packaging. Although younger generations are more likely to participate in practical actions around recycling, they’re relatively more inclined to believe that individual action is pointless unless companies take more responsibility!

The key to building brand loyalty is to ensure that your customers – both the new and existing ones – have a stellar end-to-end buying experience. All the different types of KPIS – such as trust, loyalty, price, ease of use etc – are heavily interlinked and very often, when one of them goes up, so do the others.

Further Reading:
The Brandwatch Customer Loyalty Report In partnership with GWIBrandwatch
Brand Loyalty Statistics 2022: It’s Time to Take Action antovo
The State of Brand Loyalty in the UK yotpo
Some surprising statistics about customer loyalty and my Offer You Can’t Refuse model Customer Think
40 Amazing Customer Loyalty Statistics in 2021 smallbizgenius