In the world of Amazon, it’s hard—if not impossible—to win on price. Instead, the goal of 21st-century brands should be to do what Amazon doesn’t—build brand loyalty through a compelling story and a superior buying experience. In 2016, over 80 percent of brands expected to compete mostly on customer experience compared to only 36 percent four years ago. Retailers have come up with innovative ways to distinguish themselves and keep customers coming back. Here are a few interesting ways to encourage brand loyalty and examples of brands that have found success with them:
1. Offer More Than Just Your Products
One of the best ways to differentiate yourself from other brands is to stand for something besides just the product. Companies of the 21st century have a mission beyond just making money and hope to provide more to their customers than just their flagship merchandise. Consumers identify with the brands they buy, which is especially true when it comes to anything fashion-related. Millennials use brands to display their personal identity, and all shoppers see their clothing choices as an extension and reflection of them. While every brand has their unique vision, below are a few types that have resonated:
TOMS’ One for One message emphasizes how buying from them will help provide shoes for a person in need. They promote themselves as a company doing good, and by buying from them so are you.
The clothing company Everlane, promotes working with ethical factories around the world to appeal to this side of shoppers. Business Insider reported that Everlane's 2015 sales increased 200 percent from 2013 to $35 million, and this year they opened their first brick and mortar store in San Francisco and New York. A Unilever study showed that 21 percent of people say they would support brands the convey sustainability. Millennials understand their global impact and are willing to spend more on eco-friendly brands.
Dove and Arie
Dove and Arie decided to focus on Body Positivity and it was widely successful. After Dove launched its Real Beauty campaign, sales have jumped from $2.5 billion to $4 billion. Arie saw a 20 percent boost after launching their #ariereal campaign that featured models of every size without retouching.
Credit: Dove Instagram
Just as restaurants have shifted to using local produce and livestock, retail brands have directed their efforts to local manufacturers and materials. This localization has a powerful influence on devoted shoppers. By opening their watch factory in Detroit, Shinola uses connects to customers who believe the city and want to see it thrive.
2. Make It Easy to Buy
Having a simple, consistent, and frictionless payment experience can go a long way with shoppers, whether online or in-store. Online has taken over, but brick and mortar stores are still an important part of the shopping process. Ninety-One percent of purchases last year were made in-store. Consumers will research and price check online, but nothing beats trying it out yourself, especially for fashion apparel. In 2017, 68 percent of customers surveyed by Market Tracker preferred to shop for apparel in-store.
The fashion titan focused on creating a seamless transition between online and in store. The smart mirrors, touchscreens and RFID-power tables create a unique customer experience. The interactive displays connect a customer in the store with more styles and sizes online in a slick and high-tech environment. Customers are more willing to engage with a retailer that is both an aesthetically pleasing experience, flexible, simple, and consistent across all platforms.
3. Make It Personal
Thirty-one percent of consumers want a personalized shopping experience. By speaking directly to your customers, you can give them an experience no other retailer can. With technology, companies are able to tailor-make an experience, size, or collection for the shopper. Below are three companies that are making shopping personal.
H&M craft their store experience down to the GPS location by using AI and analytics to decide which pieces are selling best in which geographic.
New Balance allows customers to customize style and color of their shoe down to the laces and rivets. Each customer gets to a shoe that is made for their unique sensibility.
IndoChino creates made to measure suits that are shipped directly to the customer’s door, giving clients the perfect fit with minimal hassle. They are also capitalizing on the omnichannel trend by having showrooms where buyers can get measured and try on sample suits before they buy online.
A brand that is an identity, an experience, and inspires loyalty is set up for success. These are just a few examples of how to create that sense community for your own customers. But these new retention techniques require more money. The goal is the create a brand shoppers believe in and are willing to invest in. One they are In the end they will pay more than they would on Amazon but they will do so by choice.
About the Author
Jesse is a graduate from the University of Michigan with a degree in neuroscience and a passion for writing. She uses both skills to tackle financial technology. Jesse was born and bred in the Bay Area and has watched as technology companies came to flourish in San Francisco. She is excited to be part of one that focuses on helping people make better financial choices.More Content by Jesse Klein