As a business we’re constantly working hard for our clients to deliver great marketing campaigns that give them a clear return on their investment. And that means making their customers want to buy their products and love their brand. So, that got us to thinking what do customer loyalty and brand loyalty really mean and are they the same thing?
The answer is no – customer loyalty and brand loyalty are both very important and very closely linked but they are two very different things – here’s why.
The main difference between them is that customer loyalty is mostly linked to how much they have to spend and what is available to them in terms of good prices, offers and savings. Brand loyalty, on the other hand, has very little to do with prices or savings, but is more about how a brand is perceived by the consumer – through marketing campaigns, its reputation and their previous experiences with the brand.
In other words, customer loyalty relates to the people who keep coming back because of lower prices or better discounts on products they buy regularly – but these people can be tempted to shop around if prices go up. Whereas people who are loyal to a brand seek out that brand regardless of price and remain customers because they believe it offers a better service and/or better quality products. Customers who are brand loyal are also more likely to try out other products from the same brand, even if they are slightly more expensive. So, whilst both are extremely important customer loyalty and brand loyalty have to be addressed in two different ways.
Customer loyalty can be improved by using tactics such as maintaining low prices and offering regular discounts, special offers or multi-buy deals. This is something we see the major supermarkets do well all the time as they strive to convince customers that they are still the cheapest and best value option for the weekly shop. Their adverting campaigns regularly compare the prices of leading brands to show that they can offer them cheaper – encouraging brand loyal customers to buy from them!
Brand loyalty, on the other hand, is easier to maintain once established, but harder to win in the first place. They key here is that once a customer does become loyal to a brand as long as the quality or service it offers doesn’t change, they will feel very little need to check out the competition. Consider how many people will only eat Heinz Baked Beans even though they cost a few pence more than supermarket own-label beans because they believe they taste better. Also remember the public outcry when the quality of the chocolate used in the iconic Cadbury’s Crème Egg was changed.
To summarise – customer and brand loyalty are equally important and to be successful, businesses need to consider both by combining the two concepts when developing their marketing strategies.