Wikibuy recently surveyed 5,000 people to learn what made them loyal to a particular brand. You can find the research here, but I wanted to go over some of the findings:
Product Quality is the Top Driver of Brand Loyalty. 40% of respondents identified product quality as the attribute most likely to make them loyal to a particular brand. What this means is that social media will not save you from having a shitty product. We can talk about social media, content marketing, digital transformation all we want, but if the product is crap, nothing else matters.
So if you have a product that isn’t considered to be high-quality by your customers, how do you change that? The starting point is in better understanding what your customers value and view as being a quality product.
In the past couple of years Voice of the Customer programs have become en vogue at many companies as a way to have a structured plan in place to better solicit then act on feedback from customers. Whenever I am advising companies on building a brand ambassador program, I try to see if there’s a way to create a Customer Advisory Panel as an offshoot of this effort.
Regardless of the name, the end goal of better understanding your customers can greatly improve product design, functionality, and quality. Remember, quality is a subjective term. If you better understand your customers, you also better understand what they view as ‘quality’ in regards to your product or service. By incorporating and acting on customer feedback, you can improve the quality of the product in the eyes of the customer, which increases the chance of creating brand loyalty.
27% of Customers Who Are Brand Loyalists Will Buy Another Product From That Same Brand. This is an interesting finding as it says that loyalty for a brand can transfer across products for 27% of your customers. The study also found that over half of respondents recommend products and services from their favorite brands to other customers.
This ties into another study that found that less than 5% of your customers generate 100% of your Word of Mouth. What we can take from these two studies is that your most loyal customers are generating new sales and they are also the most engaging and active customers you have. As a result, new customer acquisition should flow through your current, loyal customers, instead of through advertising. This is a disconnect that many brands can’t get past.
There’s a common thread running through both this points and it is this: Leverage your most loyal customers to improve product design, marketing and sales. Some of the most successful (and bravest) companies leverage their current, happy customers, to drive growth and acquire new customers. Many companies see the value in leveraging current customers to promote their brand, but the true value in working with your current customers comes from leveraging them as a feedback channel. Customers are more trusted than brands when it comes to product promotion, which means we value the opinions of our friends and family more than we do brand advertisements.
Let’s say Tom is in the market for a new car. Based on his situation, he decides he wants a sedan. He would probably start by doing research on the internet, consulting websites and blogs to get a sense or what the most highly-ranked sedans are.
After that initial round of research, he settles on 5 different models. One of which, is a Ford Fusion. His co-worker, Lisa owns a Ford Fusion, so Tom decides to talk to her about her Fusion. Another of Tom’s models being considered is a Honda Accord, and his brother-in-law Hank has an Accord, so he also asks Hank his opinion on owning an Accord.
The feedback Tom receives from Lisa and Hank will likely go a long way toward determining which model car Tom decides to get. Note that the majority of the information Tom uses to make his decision is NOT coming from Honda or Ford. It’s coming from other customers and third-party websites and bloggers.
But what makes the interactions with Lisa and Hank so valuable for Tom is that they both know and understand Tom and what he wants from a vehicle. Tom really likes how Hank’s Honda Accord looks, and believes it has better features than the Ford Fusion. He’s almost sold on the Accord, and mentions this to his co-worker Lisa. Tom and Lisa are vendors, and their jobs require them to spend a lot of time visiting retailers in their sales district. So they are both spending a lot of time driving. Lisa tells Tom that she actually considered buying an Accord, but opted for the Fusion for one reason only.
“It’s a more comfortable car. The drivers seat is wonderful, and as you know Tom, that makes a big difference given how many miles we have to drive every day”, Lisa explains to Tom. Since Lisa understands Tom, she can give him customized feedback that’s more relevant to Tom.
Guess which automobile Tom will likely buy? And if Ford were working with Lisa in an ambassador program, Lisa could relay that feedback to Ford, and perhaps Ford could tweak its marketing communications to highlight how comfortable the seats are in the Fusion, especially on longer drives.
So if you want to brand loyalty in 2019, focus on improving product quality, and also on leveraging your current, satisfied customers, as a way to acquire product feedback that will help you improve product quality.