While a consumer drives down their road, what triggers their decision to go to Tesco as opposed to Sainsburys? As they switch on their laptop to shop online, is it Ocado.com or Waitrose.com they visit?
While the flat economy keeps consumer consumption weak, retailers are looking to pull levers other than just price to build brand loyalty.
Short term vs. long term customer loyalty
Price differentiation is clearly unsustainable and confusing for consumers in many cases. Whilst price matching might be good for the consumer in the short term, it negatively impacts the bottom line and does not lead to increased loyalty in the long term.
In a recent study by loyalty360 it was revealed that 84% of respondent retailers use some form of loyalty strategy, but surprisingly less than half (48.8%) believe their initiatives are working.
Therefore, what can drive loyalty in the longer term?
Having a single view of the customer is increasingly challenged by consumer uptake of multichannel. A consumer expects to be able to research a product or service using one channel, order it via another, and potentially take delivery via a third, with the expectation that the retailer is aware of each and every activity and delivering a consistently seamless service.
Consumers also expect the same authentic brand experience whether they are communicating via a brands website, social network, or speaking face-to-face with a representative.
How can social data be used?
So how can brands use social data to drive loyalty? How can it help make every moment memorable for the customer, while still affordable for the retailer? Beyond responding to customer service queries in twitter and other social networks where else can social build customer loyalty?
One way is by using social data to anticipate future customer behaviour. For instance by seeing what is trending and delivering a better marketing message accordingly. This could take the form of tweaking a website in real-time, with the intention of more prominently displaying items customers are discussing online and showing a propensity to purchase. In this way the brand is clearly identifying with its customers in real time and using that data to make it easier for them to find the things they like.
Another example is if a customer has a goal to lose weight, their supermarket could use the data they have collected through a traditional loyalty programme (in relation to the customers food purchases) and make that data available to them to calculate their calorific intake. This data powering an app could then be used by the customer to manage their diet, making them more likely to continue shopping with that supermarket in particular because it is collecting their data and using it to benefit them.
These are just a few ways in which social can play a big role in driving and maintaining customer loyalty, and ways which give the customer benefits beyond discounts for being loyal.
Image credit: Karen V Bryan