Opinion: Where our loyalties lie: Do emerging brands breed greater loyalty?

Derek Eccleston, Chief Development Officer at eDigitalResearch (edr), part of MARU Group.

Derek Eccleston, Chief Development Officer at eDigitalResearch (edr), part of MARU Group.

Customer loyalty is the pinnacle for any brand – everyone knows that selling more to existing customers is easier, and cheaper, than finding new ones, writes guest blogger Derek Eccleston, Chief Development Officer at eDigitalResearch (edr), part of MARU Group.

Loyal customers spend more - and tend to visit more frequently. They’ll also actively recommend your brand to others helping you to ultimately get more guests through the door.

What breeds customer loyalty?

A great guest experience is key.

But delivering a great customer experience isn’t just about the rational – price, range and convenience. To build lasting relationships with customers, you need to connect with them on an emotional level too - it means listening to what they have to say, finding out their wants and needs and delighting them by continually looking to improve.

Does practice make perfect?

Like most things, achieving high levels of loyalty is harder than it sounds. The Voice of the Customer needs to thread throughout your entire business – from operations to product development.

In theory, long-established brands that have been operating for decades must have high levels of loyalty – otherwise how would they have been able to grow and still be around today?

But our consumer needs and expectations are changing. We’re becoming increasingly more demanding as customers.

Add to the mix the growing amount of choice customers face – whether through new brands or emerging touch points – brands have to fight more than ever before for our attention and loyalty.

A positive outlook

Insight reveals that emerging brands appear to be nurturing higher levels of loyalty than their long-established counterparts thanks to a much more emotive outlook.

Take growing burger brand Five Guys. Long established in the US, Five Guys is making big in roads in the UK with almost 50 locations – but still have room to grow when compared to burger giant McDonald’s and their 1,200 UK and Ireland sites.

A sample of Five Guys’ public sentiment rates more positively than McDonalds’ – almost half of the sample taken by edr (eDigitalResearch) were positive about Five Guys over the past weekend, double the amount seen by McDonald’s.

Five Guys’ customers talk about their ‘love’ for the brand and some even labelling themselves a ‘fanatic’ while McDonald’s’ conversations centre around food content – including ‘salt’ -  and poor experiences.

Emerging brands have a clear advantage when it comes to fostering an emotional connection with customers. Unlike the big multinationals, growing brands can take advantage of less red tape, engaging with customers and responding as quickly as possible – a recent report by BDRC Continental found that established retailers are amongst the worst brands for answering customer queries quickly on Twitter.

For Five Guys, they’re able to shape social media experiences, sharing positive messages while McDonald’s’ persona focuses on brand messages – McDonald’s concentrate on the rational while Five Guys are creating a clear emotional connection with customers and letting the brand’s personality shine through.

edr (eDigitalResearch) measured a sample of public Twitter comments for both top and emerging hospitality brands from 15th – 17th April 2016. 

eDigitalResearch (edr), part of MARU Group, are proud sponsors of the 2016 CGA Peach Consumer Insight & Marketing Conference.