Brands don't understand value of customer loyalty, study states

"Far too often, loyalty is a tactic to drive relationships instead of being the foundation of the relationship itself."

Brand marketing professionals have a dangerously outdated view of customer loyalty, according to a new report from the CMO Council.

The report, entitled Loyalty that Lasts, found that "while product and price are still key elements, customers actually want to like – if not love – the brands they do business with… they want to see themselves, from their realities to their aspirations, embedded in each purchase."

Meanwhile, one in three senior marketing decision-makers surveyed by the CMO Council believed that "loyalty is more often based on the consistency of transactions rather than the lasting bond of allegiance."

Nearly 40 percent of respondents defined a loyal customer simply as someone who consistently purchases their products, or is enrolled in an awards program.

This metric can be misleading, as that might more easily equate to convenience than loyalty for many consumers. 

One major reason for the disconnect is that strategies regarding both brand experiences and customer engagement are often kept separate, making it more difficult than necessary to unify under a clear view of the customer. 

This results in seeing customers as targets rather than people, which means they might purchase your product, but wouldn’t care less if your brand disappeared, according to a recent study from Havas. 

One way to remedy the situation is to first recognize that the definition of loyalty extends beyond a relationship "predicated on savings, rewards or promotions," the CMO Council states.

Any solution would also require senior marketing executives to "take specific and intentional steps to actually lean in with emotion and not just schemes, promotions or gimmicks," in order to develop true emotional loyalty to the brand. 

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