Building trust in any relationship in life is so important for it to be sustainable in the long run. Just like trust is a pivotal piece in any personal relationship, it is equally vital when you talk about trust between brands and their customers.
In The Age of the Customer, consumers call all the shots. They are in control because of a plethora of choices available to them. In today’s hyper-connected world, consumers want to feel that they are engaging with brands in a meaningful way. Gaining consumer trust has become that much harder today given the retail/technological backdrop.
We recently reached out to John Baumann, president of multi-title cataloger Colony Brands, and asked him about today’s customers and the value of trust.
Combining Focus and Emotion to Create Loyalty
“We measure, measure, measure in order to understand how our customers are relating to our brands,” Baumann told Clarus. “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.”
Re-thinking a brand’s approach to loyalty means understanding that true loyalty requires a combination of function and emotion.
Empowered by instant access and greater choice, today’s younger consumers are not very forgiving to brands. As a result, building and maintaining trust is a key for brands to develop long-term brand loyalty.
“With so many shopping options today, loyalty is more difficult to maintain than ever,” Baumann explained. “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.”
Loyalty is rooted in consumer trust and the endearing and abiding emotions. Today, consumers base their buying decisions on how loyal companies are to them. So, brands don’t have countless chances to get it right.
People want to feel like they are valued by a brand and that, in turn, goes a long way toward creating and retaining loyalty.
That special feeling, desirable benefits, memorable experiences, along with relevant and interesting content help develop strong bonds between customers and brands.
Personalization and Data are Keys to Building Consumer Trust
Effectively leveraging personalization and customer data are two big components of brand loyalty today.
Brands need to integrate customer behavior with a retailer’s product data to better understand various buyer categories, such as their individual order rates per year and preferences between mobile or desktop.
Baumann talked about these two keys to customer loyalty and gaining trust.
“Interestingly, our catalog buyers love the experience of paging through our catalogs and shopping,” he said. “We try to keep the catalogs both user friendly and entertaining. We’ve tried to incorporate that same feel in our ecommerce sites. Fresh product and exciting creative is cornerstone.”
Baumann said that Colony Brands uses more on-page personalization in its catalogs than most of its competitors.
“As long as the personalization is relevant to the customer, it seems to work,” Baumann added. “We’re trying to emphasize the same in outbound digital marketing.”
Colony Brands includes the following brands: The Swiss Colony, Tender Filet, Wisconsin Cheeseman, Monroe & Main, Ashro, Midnight Velvet, Montgomery Ward, Seventh Avenue, and Ginny’s.
“We keep quite a bit of data that enables us to better make offers to our customers that are relevant to their shopping preferences,” Baumann explained. “Over time, it should help us better tailor our offers to each individual customer’s needs.”
Baumann says that Colony Brands uses a data- driven approach.
“We carefully watch and monitor what our customers are buying,” he said. “We study what else we offer them that is relevant. We probably engage by phone with more customers than most other direct marketers. That 1-to-1 voice interaction can be really valuable in both engaging our customer and learning more about how we can best serve them.”
Do They Trust Us?
Consumers want to have an emotional connection to the brands they are most loyal to and trust carries a critical piece of that equation.
A willingness from consumers to share personal data that brands can distill into effective personalized engagement efforts plays a starring role in building and maintaining mutual trust between the customer and the brand.
As Baumann said, “Do they trust us?” is a huge question brands must continually ask themselves to ensure they are promoting authenticity, transparency, and ultimately, impacting loyalty.