Right now, the most important thing is your customers.
Acquiring new customers is more important than ever, but you also need to nurture relationships with your existing ones as retail reopens.
What draws consumers to brands and, more importantly, what makes them stay with them?
Levi Strauss CEO Chip Bergh mentioned the answer in a recent earnings call.
“We have one of the world’s most iconic, most loved brands in Levi’s,” Bergh said. “And consumers will come back to brands that they love and trust.”
Forming emotional connections that link brands and customers for life is very similar to the dynamics of personal relationships.
Love and trust are two of the most important words in the world.
It stands to reason that these two emotions are directly tied to why consumers are loyal to certain brands for life.
We have interviewed several brands in the past two years about this very important topic.
Here’s what five brand executives had to say about the connection of love and trust to long-term loyalty.
The GIANT Company
Emily Mikus, Director of Loyalty & Shopper Marketing, The GIANT Company, explained how GIANT gains trust and love from customers.
“For us, it’s all about understanding our customers better than any other retailer and providing her with quality products at great prices, services, solutions, interactions, and a sense of community so that she knows we can deliver on everything she needs, every single day, so she never has to think about going anywhere else to fill her family’s table,” she said.
Mikus said GIANT continually seeks ways to deepen customer relationships, “and I believe it is this approach of putting the customer at the heart of everything we do that sustains the loyal relationships we have with our customers.”
John Baumann, the former CEO of multititle cataloger Colony Brands, talked to us about the crucial aspect of trust and customer loyalty.
“We measure, measure, measure in order to understand how our customers are relating to our brands,” Baumann told us. “Do our brands speak to our customers’ needs? Do they trust us? Do they see shopping from us for years to come? If the answers to those questions are positive, then we feel confident they will advocate for us.”
Baumann noted the role of choice in finding customer loyalty.
“Building and maintaining trust is a key for brands to develop long-term brand loyalty,” he added. “With so many shopping options today, loyalty is more difficult to maintain than ever. However, we believe that what makes people loyal has not changed. It’s like any relationship. Be consistent in your brand, be a good listener, react to your customers’ changing needs, and be trustworthy.”
Andrew Sonnichsen, Vice President of Loyalty Program Management at Cinemark, told us he believes that building trust with customers starts with listening to their feedback, suggestions, and requests, and using that input to develop loyalty programs.
“Extensive customer research led us to introduce the first exhibitor-based monthly paid membership program, Movie Club, and we set up the benefits to be extremely customer-friendly,” he explained.
Customers today build trust with brands through simple and honest interactions, Sonnichsen noted.
“When Cinemark Movie Rewards launched, we purposefully made the program very straightforward and transparent to understand and use,” he said. “For example, members earn one point for each $1 spent with Cinemark – what could be simpler than that? Ultimately, that level of transparency builds trust in our member base and creates lasting loyalty.”
Raj Karkara, former Vice President of Loyalty and Financial Services at Overstock.com, talked to us about the company’s Club O premium loyalty program.
The program’s simplicity has helped build enormous trust among customers and keeps them coming back.
“Creating an Overstock.com loyalty and rewards program was a no-brainer because it gives our customers extra perks and benefits that keep them coming back to shop on our site,” he explained. “Club O members are our most valuable and loyal customers.
Club O also offers many other lifestyle perks like restaurant rewards and discounted stock trading, all of which create an added emotional connection with members.
“Premium loyalty programs are important in today’s marketplace because consumers have so many different shopping options,” Karkara said, “Premium loyalty programs help increase customer loyalty and retention by providing immediate value to the customer.”
Sheryl Clark, CEO of women’s apparel retailer, talked to us about emotional loyalty and the ongoing challenge of acquiring and retaining customer trust.
“For us, it’s about being consistent in our product offerings to her that are age, trend, and fit appropriate so that she builds the trust with us collection after collection and knows she can shop with us and feel confident about her purchase,” Clark explained.
Clark added: “To be honest, this has been a challenge, but it’s also our biggest opportunity—to get that consistency of product and quality. That’s huge when it comes to building trust with your customer and ensuring they remain loyal. Our goal is to ensure not just that we’re hitting the mark when it comes to quality, but that we’re exceeding her expectations.”
Trust, Clark said, “is an ongoing goal of ours and a big part of that is consistency—consistency of our product, our quality, and in our communications with her.”
Brand Love and Trust Come From Empathy
All these experts agree that love and trust stem from being empathic to your customers.
That’s why listening to your customers, identifying their pain points, and resolving them with an engaging and rewarding loyalty program is crucial.
How are you keeping your customers coming back?