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Earning Brand Loyalty in 2021

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Before the COVID-19 pandemic, brand loyalty seemed to be going by the wayside. Some studies even found that only 9% of United States consumers said they were loyal to a brand. Luckily, the rollercoaster that was 2020 has made earning brand loyalty in 2021 more attainable.

Recent studies have found that consumer loyalty actually increased year-over-year from 2019-2020. And while it may seem surprising, when you think about what helped you through a year that was a nightmare for almost everyone, it’s likely at least one or two brands come to mind.

There are a number of ways to earn brand loyalty, but if you aren’t actively pursuing it, don’t expect your consumers to share the love. Luckily, we are here to lay out some easy steps for you to follow.

Read on for our tips on earning brand loyalty in 2021.

Brand Loyalty Changes in 2020

As mentioned above, consumers reported being more loyal to brands in 2020. Not only that, but the number of brands consumers reported being loyal to also increased, as noted in the chart below.

chart showing increase in number of brands consumers are loyal to

[Source]

It seems that consumers are latching on to the brands they felt were there for them during a turbulent time, or whose reaction to the Black Lives Matter protests and other social unrest aligned with their own.

The study referenced above also showed that consumers are more emotionally invested in their favorite brands, and aren’t making purchasing decisions solely based on money. Those willing to spend more on a brand even if cheaper options existed skyrocketed from 34.5% in 2019 to 56% in 2020.

Consumers may be reporting that they are more brand loyal, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to earn that loyalty. In fact, it can be quite difficult, because earning brand loyalty means delivering a number of things across various channels. But don’t fear, we are breaking down what you need to cover so you can earn your consumers’ preference and trust.

Stand Up For The Things You Care About

When Black Lives Matter protests erupted across the country, consumers demanded brands speak up. That call for accountability isn’t going anywhere. In fact, staying silent due to fear of alienating segments of buyers will likely be more costly than speaking out. Ben & Jerry’s has been applauded for their response to the protests. From the original post shown below to their creation of “Justice Remixed,” a flavor that is calling for criminal justice reform.

White Text On Black Background reads We Must Dismantle White Supremacy

[Instagram]

Don’t wait for the next social issue to dominate the airwaves. Take a note from Ben & Jerry’s and sit down and reflect on your brand’s core values, and develop statements off those values. Make sure that your actions reaffirm those beliefs as well. As we learned in 2020, words aren’t enough, and consumers will hold you accountable. Knowing where you stand and how you support the causes you claim to care about will move consumers to choose you over those that stay silent.

Focus On Customer Care

We’ve covered it numerous times – if you’re not focusing on social customer care, you’re losing. These days, your customers will turn to social to express their discontent or look for solutions to their problems. If you’re not there, or you’re supplying mediocre support, you’ve lost them. Possibly for good. That’s why upping your customer care game is essential to earning brand loyalty in 2021.

There are several aspects to exceptional social customer care, but we’ll break down the basics for you here:

  1. Create a process for dealing with issues of varying severity levels – how will you address smaller complaints vs. larger ones?
  2. Operate with a sense of urgency – response time matters!
  3. Be empathetic in your communication with customers – no matter how “silly” their request or perceived issue.
  4. Strive for greatness – “good” customer care isn’t good enough.

For a more detailed breakdown of what it takes to succeed in customer care, check out The Top 5 Scariest Customer Care Mistakes.

Don’t Lose Your Humanity

In the hustle and bustle of running a successful company, it’s easy to lose sight of what’s important and start functioning on autopilot. When that happens, it’s easier for you to lose the connection you’ve work so hard to build with your customers. You can’t earn brand loyalty if you can’t connect with them on a human level.

So how do you keep or create that connection? You focus on being human in a world where many brands are not. That means going off book when it’s appropriate. Sure you can work with approved responses, but make sure to tailor them to each consumer so you don’t start sounding robotic. Consistent messaging is important, but that doesn’t mean you have to be rigid.

Another way to keep your brand human? Listen and respond to customer feedback. When you address a pain point you have heard from your customers, you demonstrate that you care about their experience with your brand or product. Letting your customers know they are being heard will be key to earning brand loyalty in 2021.

Make Use Of Social Listening

If you know us, you know we LOVE social listening. We’re bringing it up for the umpteenth time because it serves as a sneaky way you can anticipate your audiences’ needs and wants. And knowing those needs and wants will give you a competitive edge in earning brand loyalty.

With social listening, you can see where your competitors are falling short, and where they are succeeding. What tactics are they using to earn brand loyalty? How can you address the pain points with their brand and emulate what they are doing right in your own way? Social listening can help you gather data that will be crucial in helping you determine both of those things. To learn more about how you can gain an advantage with social listening check out this blog.

Reward Loyalty

When customers are rewarded for their loyalty, they are more likely to spread the word about your brand. And as we know, peer recommendations are extremely powerful when it comes to influencing buyer decisions.

One way you can recognize brand loyalty is by offering incentives or rewards to your customers. A great way to establish brand loyalty with a new customer is to provide a discount to use on their next purchase or provide a promo code to those who sign-up for your newsletter. Chances are you’ve experienced one or both of these tactics and have likely pulled the trigger on a first or second purchase because of them.

Of course, you can reward current customers with rewards as well. For example, the sustainable shoe retailer Rothy’s very rarely offers discounts. They do however have a referral program that gives both customers and their friends $20 off a purchase.

Screenshot of Rothys Website Referral Ad

[Rothy’s]

Another way you can reward brand loyalty? Acknowledging customers who share the love. Sharing posts that your brand is tagged in to your brand’s Instagram story or feed conveys your appreciation for the customer and is a great way to earn brand loyalty. You can create contests around user-generated-content to encourage more of it, or simply message genuine responses to those who tag you. Bonus? User-generated-content is often some of the best-performing content on social platforms for brands.

Earning Brand Loyalty In 2021

Once you earn the loyalty of your customers, there’s no stopping what you can accomplish. It’s not too late to start the quest for brand loyalty. And luckily for you, several of the steps above can be implemented immediately and with little hassle.  Be genuine and take care of your customers, and they’ll take care of you too. Make 2021 your year!

Has your loyalty to a brand been rewarded? Share your experiences with us in the comments! 

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Leah K. Williams

Leah is an Account Manager for B Squared Media, a role that involves content creation and curation, customer service, reputation management and more. Leah is a writer at her core and holds a bachelor's degree in digital journalism from Endicott College. When she's not writing you can find her adventuring in Maine with her husband and two rescue pups, Han Solo and Maya.
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