Now more than ever, customers are leaving brand loyalty at the door. For many customers, it doesn’t matter if a product has been their favorite for 20 years – if a new brand can provide a better experience or prioritize the consumer’s values and needs better than another, there’s a good chance brand loyalty is at risk. Not to mention, COVID-19 caused customers to reassess their loyalties and brands out of necessity – product availability, supply chain disruptions, business closures, and more resulted in customers looking for alternative brands and products. New entrants to market, many digitally born or digitally driven, have also challenged reputable brands that have worked for years to establish brand loyalty and consumer trust.
So, how can retailers drive and maintain customer loyalty, particularly in an increasingly competitive market? It starts with the customer experience.
2022 Customer Loyalty Trends
Below we highlight five customer loyalty trends that retailers should be mindful of to drive, improve, and retain loyalty among customers.
Trend #1: Digitalization and Contactless Payment
Digital platforms saw massive growth during the pandemic. Companies needed to reinvent themselves, and digitalization was essential in keeping revenue flowing. The switch to digital was a way to keep money coming in, but it was also a strategic customer loyalty play. Creating comprehensive apps and online experiences shows consumers that the company cares to meet their needs and wants to make their lives easier. People quickly became accustomed to having orders and payment methods at their fingertips.
Through digital platforms, companies are focused on providing a seamless connection between their customers’ purchase history, rewards platform, and order management. Companies are also focused on creating a contactless payment experience. Contactless payment and online ordering are beneficial for companies because they promote and enable the ease and convenience of at-home shopping. With the digital approach, consumers are interacting with the company’s app or website more frequently, ultimately providing the company with more data on the consumer.
Through digital platforms and easy payment options, brands can foster consumer loyalty by supporting consumers on their path-to-purchase journey, delivering seamless interconnectivity, and providing options, ease-of-use, and convenience.
Trend #2: Customer Engagement Through In-App Games
Games are engaging and interactive. People of all demographics enjoy games, which is why the gaming industry has more than two billion users each year.
But why are companies like Chipotle including games as a part of their customer loyalty experience? It’s about more than just providing games – companies are tapping into the gaming market because it’s a way for them to keep the consumer engaged with their brand outside of purchasing activities.
If customers are interacting with the company’s app to play games and earn rewards, they’re seeing the brand more frequently and associating it with a fun experience. The more that customers interact with the app and the game, the more touch points, and in turn data, the company can track. Having this data allows companies to continue to adapt and optimize their customer experience to make it more engaging and further draw in their consumers.
Furthermore, by introducing games to their app platforms, companies are aiming to bring out the competitive nature of their customers and boost engagement. Gamification drives customer retention and loyalty by leveraging the psychological aspect of achievement. Customers want to make it to the next level and keep their status, so they don’t want to delete the app or cancel their subscription in fear of interfering with their success or status. Ultimately, gamification can drive loyalty with engaging consumer experiences, helping to reach a new market and build a positive emotional connection between the brand and its consumers. Continue reading by downloading the full report below, and learn more about our Retail Consulting Services here.
Subscribe to Clarkston's Insights
Contributions from Catherine Ault