What compels someone purchase more expensive Dove body wash rather than cheaper CVS body wash, or Vaseline instead of another petroleum jelly brand? The answer: brand recognition and brand loyalty. Marketers know the reason behind these selections, and they understand how important it is to establish and maintain brand loyalty for their products. One of the ways in which they try to accomplish this is through customer loyalty programs.
It is imperative to always put the customer first–to focus on the customer’s emotional interactions with the brand and to ensure that these interactions are positive. Creating continual positive associations with the brand will ensue brand culture, and strong brand culture fosters strong brand loyalty. How do marketers ensure that these interactions are positive? Well, they need to really understand and know their consumers–their needs, motivations, and behaviors. They must align their customers’ behaviors with the objectives of their company. Simply being on a generic list as part of a company loyalty program is not enough–consumers want to “feel” that they are important to a brand. This “feeling” is all part of their emotional interaction with the brand.
Although marketers create programs that engage consumers, most fall short in creating programs that initiate and reinforce a lasting faithfulness to their brand. Loyalty programs that just engage customers will by no means automatically guarantee that they become loyal to the brand for life. The reason being is that although these programs might be initially exciting to the consumers, they are not relevant to them in the long term. It all goes back to truly understanding customers and and putting their needs and desires first. Without acknowledging these basics, customer loyalty programs will only have a short term effect, when the endgame of customer loyalty programs is meant to have a lasting, long term effect.