In an ideal world, organizations wouldn’t have to vie for customer loyalty; the product itself would be enough to keep customers coming back for more. Unfortunately, the world is far from ideal, and with increased competition in every aspect of business, loyal customers are necessary to ensure continued success. While a unique and relevant product is the foundation on which customer loyalty should be developed, there are other factors that can help steer customers in your direction, prompting them to stick to your brand. Here we delve into some of the psychological triggers that promote customer loyalty.
Create Positive Associations
Human psychology revolves around the concept of associations. For example, when you touch a hot stove, you will immediately experience pain. The association of the hot stove with pain is then created in your mind, and you will subsequently avoid touching hot stoves so as to not experience the associated feeling of pain. On the flipside, the brain also makes positive associations, such as the feeling of pleasure after eating ice cream. What this means in terms of gaining loyalty is that you need to ensure your brand is associated with positive feelings. This will make a customer want to come back to your brand, to re-experience those positive feelings.
There are many ways to make sure your brand is associated with a positive experience. These include great customer service, creating quality content, sending your customers wishes on birthdays and anniversaries, unique in-store experiences, frequent rewards and gifts in the form of promotional items for customer loyalty, and many more. Depending on the type of business, product, and average buyer persona, you will need to formulate a strategy to create positive associations. Obviously, this can’t happen overnight, but with each positive experience, your customers will become more loyal to you.
Grow Your “Tribe”
Social categorization, or one’s “tribe,” as is often referred to in popular culture, is a great way to create brand loyalty. As stated in an infographic published by University of Southern California’s Applied Psychology Program, “…fostering an us vs. them mentality, giving the consumer a sense of belonging while creating an enemy out of competitors” is a good strategy to lure and keep customers. Whether your tribe is a small one, or a larger social group doesn’t matter — people love being part of an exclusive tribe that then becomes a part of their personal identity.
Apple is a great example of large-scale social categorization. By using cool, laid-back and new-age people to showcase its brand, simultaneously showing unlikable characters to portray its rivals, Apple instills a sense of “community identity” (and in this case, elitism) that makes customers feel that they’re a part of the brand. Apple’s overall customer loyalty strategy has worked so well that, according to USC, 78 percent of Apple customers say they couldn’t imagine having another phone, and 76 percent will replace their old iPhones only with other Apple models.
Use Color to Promote Your Values
Don’t underestimate the value of colors. The effective use of colors can be the make-or-break factor when it comes to consumers recognizing and revisiting the same brand. In fact, research shows that the proper use of color increases brand recognition by 80 percent. A further 85 percent of consumers buy because of color. Different colors elicit different responses in people. Consider your business and its product, mission, and values. Based on these, you can identify which colors will most likely bring this across in your marketing and branding campaigns.
For example, Starbucks uses green in its signature logo to subconsciously remind consumers about the brand’s sustainability focus on using fair trade coffee, as well as its many corporate social responsibility endeavors. Thus customers are subtly reminded of the benefits of buying a cup of coffee from Starbucks. Similarly, the color blue is most often associated with calmness, a sense of stability and confidence. That’s why it’s a preferred color for financial business, and both JP Morgan and American Express use it in their branding. Research the psychology behind colors and utilize the findings to proactively bring out your brands values. An appealing visual image paired with a strong color choice is integral to drawing in customers and keeping them engaged enough to return to your brand over others.
To summarize, make sure you incorporate a series of positive experiences with your brand that are present and consistent. Instill a sense of tribalism among your consumers, and leverage colors to communicate key aspects of your brand. While your entire brand campaign can’t be based on subconscious branding alone, using psychological triggers in your general campaign will only boost results.