When your customers first buy your product, they likely were previously loyal to another product. Something happened that sent them shopping. Maybe it was the price, or maybe they just couldn’t find it anymore. So they tried yours. For whatever reason, you now have an opportunity to make them loyal to your product – but remember how you got them in the first place. You can lose them the same way!
We like Adam Toporek’s definition of customer loyalty:
“Customer loyalty is the continued and regular patronage of a business in the face of alternative economic activities and competitive attempts to disrupt the relationship.
Customer loyalty often results in other secondary benefits to the firm such as brand advocacy, direct referrals, and price insensitivity.”
There’s no question that the product itself has to be competitive, priced right and deliver superior value. But, beyond the product itself, several factors can make the difference in, a much sought after, loyal customer. Here’s our top 7:
1. Convenience. When buying consumer products, many loyal customers stray simply because the store where they regularly buy your product ran out or doesn’t carry it any more. They may still prefer your product, but after all, there are other brands in stock and they don’t have time to chase your product down.
2. Expectations. Your product must continue to live up to their expectations in every way. It not only has to continue to deliver on its brand promise and remain relevant, but its price, value, and availability must continue to be dependable.
3. Customer Service. The way your company stands behind its products can be as valuable as the product itself. A good warranty and swift resolution of issues keeps customers, who may have had a disappointing experience, buying your product.
4. Personal Relationships. The way customers are treated by third parties, such as sales persons, store clerks, or your own representatives can make or break customer loyalty. Many don’t buy your product so much as they “buy” the person who sold it to them.
5. Rewards. Customers want some consideration for continuing to do business with you, especially when they have other options. Offering savings, bonuses, and other forms of special attention to your loyal customers can not only keep them from going elsewhere, but may be the reason they recommend you to their friends.
6. Reputation. How your product plays in the media, both commercial and social, can influence long-term relationships. Your companies financial, labor, and sourcing practices are now subject to the scrutiny of an increasing transparent world where consumers realize that they vote with their purchases.
7. Community Outreach. When you stand for something beyond your product, when you support the causes important to your customers, and when you participate in their community, you build a bond of loyalty that is hard to break. This gives them a social reason to become and remain loyal.
Customer loyalty is a choice every consumer makes daily. The good news is that most customers don’t want to shop. It’s time consuming and fraught with anxiety. It’s so much easier and much more comfortable to just stay put – with a brand they know and trust. Respect for these 7 factors can stop them from shopping and keep them saying, “I love these guys!”
Who Are We.
Having built and sold a bestselling national brand, we appreciate the value of brands and everything it takes to make them successful. Companies are valued by their brand equity. Achieving and maximizing brand equity requires tremendous respect for all your customers, from your wholesaler to your end user.
Starting in our laundry room with no money and no knowledge of the industry, we built the famous Barefoot Wine brand. We learned a lot they don’t teach in school and much of it the hard way. Although our success was in consumer products, our real world experience will be helpful to anyone looking for information and advice about brands.
We have written the New York Times Bestselling Business Book, The Barefoot Spirit: How Hardship, Hustle and Heart Built America’s #1 Wine Brand, which chronicles the history of the famous brand from its inception through its acquisition. Our book is now required reading in schools of entrepreneurship across the country. We hope this book will provide inspiration and encouragement for all those contemplating starting a brand or wanting to improve their existing brand.
Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey
-Barefoot Wine Founders