The societal and economic effects of the pandemic have touched everyone’s lives and transformed how consumers shop and retailers sell. Many of these behaviors are expected to stick in the long term, and therefore shape the consumer behavior to a new normal.
The Shock to Brand Loyalty
One of the most significant disruptions in brand-consumer relationships caused by the COVID-19 was the shock to brand loyalty. Supply-chain disruptions, especially in the early months of the pandemic, forced many consumers to try new brands when they would otherwise shop at their favored brick-and-mortar or online shops. While supply chains were restored after the first lockdown, it seems that the majority of consumers intend to continue with these new shopping habits once the COVID crisis subsides.
Although the world’s economies begin to open once again, restrictions on physical stores, rising unemployment levels, and uncertainty of the ongoing Brexit negotiations have suppressed consumer confidence and spending. As a result, value remains the primary reason for consumers to try new brands followed by availability, quality, and the brand’s principles.
Therefore, it’s of paramount importance for retailers to be in a position to reboot brand loyalty. Brands need to identify what consumers value these days, adjust their offering accordingly, and win recurring customers over.
It Takes More Than Cutting Prices
Indeed, customers are more conscious of a bargain than before due to the current economic uncertainty. Nevertheless, merely reducing your prices isn’t enough. Competitors slash their prices to the point where it’s financially impossible to match. However, even if lowering your prices is not a viable option for your company, there are still ways to restore your brand loyalty during these challenging times as the reasons why consumers are abandoning brands are not limited to financial hardship. In this article, we present you with three of the best strategies that will help your brand influence consumers’ decision-making journeys and win customers over.
Be Vocal About Your Values
Brand values play an enormous role when customers choose a product, and it’s more probable they recommend a particular company if its social values align with their own. Taking a public stand on important social and environmental issues can get you recognition from sympathizing consumers.
Connecting with consumers on an emotional level is also extremely important nowadays, and the way you can successfully practice this is by focusing on health and safety. Increasing efforts to keep staff and consumers safe will help reinforce your relationship with your customers. And never forget to express your gratitude to your customers for the support they’ve given.
Forge Meaningful Connections with Your Customers
As new consumer behavior and trends begin to solidify, companies must strive to connect with consumers in new ways that are in sync with their newly formed shopping habits and decision-making journeys. Customers are more likely to remain loyal to a brand that listens to and applies the feedback it receives and is quick to resolve issues on the first attempt.
Extraordinary customer support in the face of adversity can restore broken trust among consumers. Additionally, a solid understanding of current and prospective customers’ concerns and perspectives will grant a ‘human’ element to your company’s attempt to restore and retain brand loyalty. And that’s something brands need to constantly demonstrate through their communications and marketing strategies on social media platforms and their website using clear, personalized, empathetic messaging.
You must think of your customers now more than ever. How are they feeling? What are their concerns? What type of messaging would most likely resonate with them at this point? But always be careful with how you communicate things. You must at all costs avoid coming across as opportunistic. Instead, focus on including yourself in their struggle; find a way to mold your message in a way that emphasizes your shared experiences with them.
Last but not least, show your gratitude to returning customers by rewarding their loyalty. If your company doesn’t have a customer loyalty program in place, now may be the best time to develop one. A loyalty program is one of the best ways to acknowledge your customers’ value and keep them engaged with your brand.
A popular way to reward customer loyalty is by offering a one-time monetary discount on their next purchase. Another example is implementing a loyalty or reward points system. Customers can use the points they collected from previous purchases to access various deals, discounts, special products, and more.
Finally, consider offering a gift to customers that return to your online shop. Be it a free sample or a complimentary accessory for a product they’ve already purchased. People love free stuff!
We’re all slowly starting to learn how to live with the realities of Covid-19. As people’s lives and habits begin to settle into the new normal, so does their consumer behavior.
Understanding which of these new trends will stick and adapting your business model to them is essential to recover and emerge stronger from the pandemic. For retailers to restore brand loyalty during the pandemic, updated business models and practices are vital.
Each one of the above steps by itself will bring your company one step closer to strengthening its brand loyalty, but combined you craft an outstanding, personalized customer experience worth coming back to.
About the Author – Stathis is the marketing and communication coordinator at Shiptheory, a best-in-class shipping management platform that connects retailers with the world’s best carriers to automate shipping labels, manifests, and tracking. He is the main contributor to Shiptheory’s E-commerce and Shipping Blog.