In its recently published Customer Loyalty Engagement Index (CLEI), Brand Keys tracked brands in categories such as beverages, quick service, pizza, banks, beer, car insurance and cosmetics amongst others. As qsrweb reported, emotional engagement proved the most important factor in purchasing decisions and brand loyalty. Its 17th annual report showed promotions and discounting reaching "saturation levels."
To create "points of differentiation," brands need to meet customer expectations of empowerment and discounting by using social networks to build communities. Brands cited as successful in this goal, and therefore building high levels of loyalty, included Dunkin' Donuts (in two categories), Coke and Diet Coke.
Robert Passikoff, Brand Keys' president, explained that marketers without handles on "the emotional side of the purchase and engagement process" may become what he calls "placeholders" whose "name people know but don't know for anything in particular and have absolutely no [brand] advantage in the marketplace," adding "if that's where you are, you might as well spend your entire marketing budget on coupons, deals, and promotions."
The company's blog explained, "Last year, the Brand Keys Customer Loyalty Engagement Index found customers were looking for 'delight' from their brands. This year evidence mounts that it's still delight that will continue to define the consumer landscape, and what brands can do to cement customer loyalty and profitability."
The blog added that 49,000 consumers "self-selected among 598 brands in 83 diverse categories" and assessed them "based on an independently-validated technique that fuses rational and emotional aspects of the categories, using a combination of psychological inquiry and higher-order statistical analyses." This technique "has been used in B2B and B2C categories in 35 countries around the world and is proven to identify the real category drivers for the consumers' ideal. Along the way it allows us to determine how well brands meet — sometimes even exceed — expectations consumers hold for the Ideal in their category."
Although expectations varied by category, Brand Keys concluded that success comes from understanding the link between differentiation and delight. Those attributes related to "experience" and "brand values" proved to be most important when it came to decision-making, expectations and engagement.
How effective are retailers in connecting with consumers on an emotional level?