Just like relationships you’ve personally experienced if so fortunate to share joyous love with someone special who touched your heart, go into the pursuit of emotional loyalty with eyes wide open.
Two souls but with
a single thought
two hearts that beat
– John Keats
If only we could know our customer’s thoughts, and in that moment when perfection is achieved, two hearts beat as one. At that seminal moment the spark that creates brand love is created, perhaps it is never ending. As a marketer you would do everything you could to nurture it and prove that you are deserving of the greatest emotion possible – true love that is for a lifetime.
Over the past two years the concept of emotional loyalty has entered our collective lexicon. Consulting firms have created evaluation tools to help loyalty marketers understand their emotional connection to customers – is there potential to improve on it, and alternatively, is it pertinent to their brand or service solution? For example:
- What is the right time and place to show your love for customers?
- Is your brand or service worthy of being loved?
- If your brand engenders love, is there ever a time when showing too much love is a bad thing?
- Is there such a thing as balancing love with a more platonic relationship – to simply be friends because love is a commitment you might not be able to fully reciprocate?
- Are your employees loving brand or service ambassadors, and inspired by your brand culture?
The answer to these questions is both simple and complex. Just like relationships you’ve personally experienced if so fortunate to share joyous love with someone special who touched your heart, go into the pursuit of emotional loyalty with eyes wide open.
Products or Services
What a customer relies on every day that is utilitarian in value may not engender love. Can someone fall in love with their toilet paper brand? Perhaps…but certainly not as much as your Crest 3D White Brilliance toothpaste, a formula that promises to deliver a dazzlingly white and brilliantly clean smile. Supporting your self-image has a much deeper emotional connection to the consumer goods customer than “taking care of business”.
Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, an American staple has always portrayed the children excited to scoop up a big spoon of yummy pasta and gooey cheese, laugh and smile from ear to ear in unison with their friends. Plus, mom gets the satisfyingly warm feeling of seeing children and friends fill their tummies, and ask for more.
Health, Beauty Aids, Fragrance, Jewelry
Products in these sectors are historically high on the emotional scale and sell based on imagery and fantasy. Simply the scent of a product creates an instant wave of emotions that stay with you forever. Can you still remember the fragrance your girlfriend or boyfriend had on at prom? Or the perfume or cologne you wore for the first time that might have been procured from mom or dad’s dressing table. Our sense of smell, the shape of the bottle, and indeed the imagery companies employ to capture your attention and create an emotional connection are both powerful and long-lasting.
No greater emotion is generated than when two become one as partners or married lovers. The depth of shopping experience for the perfect diamond setting says so much about one’s love for another. An emotional reaction is instant from the moment the Tiffany Blue Box® is revealed. What’s inside gets the heart beating, as one.
Retail entities are hit and miss in their ability or lack of emotional connection to the customer. For most if not many, there is a very low quotient or baseline of emotional energy for your traditional department store, grocery, convenience store or drug chain. The effort to “force” emotional reaction is a pursuit to question foundationally based on what the enterprise can or cannot fulfill.
Retailers or Service companies that serve the public sector rely on personal interaction to achieve a strong emotional connection through the associate. The associate can be the greatest asset a loyalty or affinity program can rely on. The associate delivers service with a smile. They are either a “natural” at customer service, or willing to learn how to improve their interpersonal skills, ask questions, remember facts and preferences of their frequent customers and fulfill customer needs and wants without fail. By extension the associate who cares can be the greatest emotional connection to the customer at that moment of delight. Nordstrom’s footwear department and their knowledgeable staff have achieved a tremendous emotional connection for this very reason.
The salesperson on the floor of the menswear department that has style, a sense of fashion and color coordination, can match a tie with a shirt to your color profile and in the end marks up your custom suit to your precise measurement and fit preferences is priceless. When wearing that suit, shirt and tie at your daughter’s wedding the emotional connection to the associate, and by extension the store cannot be more valuable to drive satisfaction, referral and fuel lifetime value growth.
What if the CEO or Owner of a business has a passion for giving back to the world, saving our planet and their motivation is not to make more money, but to do good? Doing what comes naturally, that is part of the business culture inspired by a true lover of the outdoors and fly fishing. This is what Yvon Chouinard is all about. All Patagonia employees are inspired by Mr. Chouinard and the standards of giving that he consistently leads by example year over year. Most recently raising $10 million in 17 days to save the planet so is there any doubt that wearing Patagonia branded merchandise represents a statement that goes beyond fashion?
In the end, emotional loyalty can indeed motivate a consumer to visit a website, store and importantly influence lifetime value growth potential. To the extent that emotional loyalty can be a factor in brand or store or service company choice, it has the potential to lessen reliance on promotional offers, discounts, dollar off incentives – thus helping contribute to better margin on goods sold and business profit results. Some brands or products or services have it inherent in their DNA, others can aspire to it and build plans to attain it. What about your business? What can you do to earn the love of your customers? What can you do to further invest in your company to transform your associates into better brand ambassadors to engender long-lasting love?
David Slavick, Co-founder and Partner at Ascendant Loyalty. David is a world class expert at CRM/Loyalty business case development, program design/strategy, and global technology assessments. He has designed some of the largest, most successful loyalty programs in the retail, restaurant & hospitality, department store, and eCommerce sectors. https://www.linkedin.com/in/