‘Brand Love’ is a misnomer.
When did we all start believing that brands are at the epicentre of the consumer’s universe? In a Nielsen survey in 2015 the number of brands the average Australian actively follows on social media is ... wait for it … one. And two-thirds don’t follow any at all.
The reality is, people are mostly loyal for no other reason than human nature. We create buying habits to reduce the number of decisions we make each day to make our lives easier. Repeat purchase is largely just repeat behaviour, doing something we have done before.
As long as your product did what it was supposed to do, people are more likely to buy it again because it’s one less thing they have to think about. There’s around 40,000 products in the average supermarket alone … imagine having a ‘loving relationship’ with all of these companies? Relationships with real people are hard enough!
There is, however, one guaranteed way for any brand to achieve more loyal customers …
An experiment run in 1964 at Texas University demonstrated this in-built loyalty very clearly.
Each day, for 12 days, four loaves of bread from the same bakery were offered to 42 women. The loaves were wrapped identically, except for a large letter on each ... L, M, P or H. The position of the brands on the tray rotated each day as well. Quickly, loyalty developed with some respondents favouring a particular brand. Some also favoured the position on the tray, usually the left-hand side. Even with very minor differences, loyalty will occur.
Professor Byron Sharp from the Ehrenberg Bass Institute of Marketing Science has written two bestselling books - How Brands Grow & How Brands Grow Part 2 - using historical data over long periods of time. In these books, he talks at length about loyalty and the Law of Double Jeopardy.
Double Jeopardy was identified in the 1960s by a sociologist, William McPhee regarding the popularity of radio announcers, and has since been statistically verified by the Ehrenberg Bass Institute as the underlying principle for all brand choice. The law states that smaller market share brands have fewer sales because they have fewer customers (the first jeopardy) who are slightly less loyal (the second jeopardy). Conversely, larger share brands have more customers who are more loyal.
The path to more loyal customers is therefore to increase penetration by appealing to a broader cross section of customers and these customers will be naturally more loyal.
This has been proven to apply to both B2B and B2C products and services … everything from Colgate to concrete supplies.
If you provide a service or product that lots of other companies do, it’s a natural instinct to want to tell them why you are better, why they should choose you, what makes you different. ‘Differentiate or Die’ has been the mantra for decades in marketing.