Reinventing loyalty: understanding consumer behaviour in the experience era

We need to be think­ing about con­sumer loy­al­ty dif­fer­ent­ly in the age of expe­ri­ence’, writes David Bur­nand, enter­prise mar­ket­ing direc­tor, Adobe EMEA

There’s no ques­tion that there has been a seis­mic shift in how we regard brands over the past decade. It cer­tain­ly feels like con­sumer loy­al­ty has become increas­ing­ly dilut­ed, so what’s dri­ving this trend? Work­ing with Gold­smiths, Uni­ver­si­ty of Lon­don, we set to find out. We sur­veyed con­sumers around Europe, as well as con­duct­ed exper­i­ments with a group of peo­ple to get an in-depth under­stand­ing of how they inter­act with brands.

What we uncov­ered was that dig­i­tal has changed the land­scape – it has giv­en con­sumers more choice than ever before. They are no longer con­fined to geo­graph­i­cal bound­aries when it comes to buy­ing the stuff they love and need. The inter­net has also allowed any type of com­pa­ny big or small the abil­i­ty to com­pete for busi­ness and ulti­mate­ly con­sumer loy­al­ty. Final­ly, dig­i­tal has her­ald­ed a new era of ulti­mate con­ve­nience, where time poor con­sumers can get what­ev­er they want, when­ev­er they want it. Our research reflect­ed these trends strong­ly:

  • 50% of con­sumers said they would buy from an unknown brand that offers a bet­ter expe­ri­ence
  • 46% said they felt over­whelmed with choice
  • 59% said con­ve­nience was a key aspect of loy­al­ty

While undoubt­ed­ly a chal­lenge for brands, there are oppor­tu­ni­ties. Giv­en these new con­sumer real­i­ties, almost two thirds (61%) said that they are now loy­al to brands that tai­lor expe­ri­ences to their needs and pref­er­ences. A fur­ther 50% said they feel good about brands that con­tin­u­ous­ly intro­duce inno­va­tion to improve the cus­tomer expe­ri­ence – but, only if brands use con­sumer data with respect.

Look­ing at the results of this study, one thing became very clear to me: data and the con­tent informed by the intel­li­gence it pro­vides is the foun­da­tion for loy­al­ty. This may be obvi­ous: we’ve all been using data and insights for many years now to inform our mar­ket­ing efforts – be that for cus­tomer acqui­si­tion or reten­tion (loy­al­ty). But, we need to step up a gear and this is where break­throughs in arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence (AI) hold the key. Using AI tech­nolo­gies, brands can make that data into true intel­li­gence that deliv­ers great con­tent and expe­ri­ences to cus­tomers. Expe­ri­ences that are adap­tive, rel­e­vant, con­sis­tent and excit­ing, that help them to nav­i­gate the over­whelm­ing choice and solve their prob­lems quick­ly and seam­less­ly. AI can deliv­er this at scale too. This is what cus­tomer loy­al­ty will be all about in the next few years.

The new ‘ABCD’ of Loy­al­ty

Work­ing with Gold­smiths, we also used the research insights to iden­ti­fy four key new dimen­sions to delight cus­tomers, meet their needs and pro­mote loy­al­ty.

A – Give peo­ple an Adap­tive expe­ri­ence

Brands that have indi­vid­ual con­ver­sa­tions with con­sumers will be the new loy­al­ty lead­ers. The use of data is at the heart of this, allow­ing brands to give indi­vid­u­als the per­son­alised expe­ri­ences they want. AI will allow this to hap­pen at scale too – poten­tial­ly nur­tur­ing engage­ment and loy­al­ty among mil­lions of cus­tomers.

 B – Be wher­ev­er the con­sumer loves to be

We live in an age where con­sumer expe­ri­ence of a brand is often frag­ment­ed across a num­ber of dif­fer­ent devices, and at dif­fer­ent times of the day. As a result, busi­ness­es need to become flex­i­ble enough to be wher­ev­er their cus­tomer is – regard­less of device or loca­tion.

C – Help con­sumers fil­ter Choic­es

The dig­i­tal rev­o­lu­tion of the last few years has brought with it unprece­dent­ed choice for con­sumers. Help­ing con­sumers cut through this noise will grab their atten­tion and build loy­al­ty. AI is pow­er­ful in bring­ing togeth­er rel­e­vant data with great con­tent, deliv­ered at just the right time to the right per­son.

D – Dif­fer­en­ti­ate through immer­sive expe­ri­ences

In the expe­ri­ence era, brands must use new and emerg­ing tech­nolo­gies to help con­ve­nience-dri­ven con­sumers get what they need, faster. Being able to offer immer­sive expe­ri­ences that delight con­sumers will be a major way brands can set them­selves apart from the com­pe­ti­tion.

In the new era of expe­ri­ence, the con­cept of brand loy­al­ty has changed. The win­ners will be those that can suc­cess­ful­ly reach a con­sumer who is more capa­ble, self-aware and demand­ing than ever before. Those that use new tech­nolo­gies and data to pow­er this could see them­selves with cus­tomers who are more loy­al than before.

For a more in-depth look at the new ABCD of Brand Loy­al­ty – and what these mean for mar­keters – down­load our full report here.

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