Brands should offer exclusive privileges

Brands offering consumers exclusive privileges and added value services are more likely to earn their loyalty, according to new research.

The survey by FastMap Consumer Voice Panel for independent strategic loyalty consultancy The Loyalty Practice reveals that 41% of consumers identify exclusive privileges as the factor most likely to influence their loyalty, followed by additional services, cited by 39%.

Regular relevant communication from a brand is also deemed to be more important than free gifts or access to special events such as sales previews, which is seen as the least compelling factor.

Head of The Loyalty Practice, Louise Isaacs, says: “Exclusive, money-can’t-buy offers build emotional loyalty as well as rational loyalty, which is based on price discounting.

“At Christmas we’re expecting another bombardment of price focused offers, but the clever retailers and brands that have built relationships and emotional loyalty with exclusive privileges throughout the year won’t have to compete so much on price.”

News International has recently announced the launch of Times+, an online membership and customer retention programme that will give members access to events, offers and gifts to reward loyalty.

The Loyalty Practice found that a quarter of consumers are less brand loyal than they were a year ago and that loyalty behaviour differed across gender and age. Women were found to be twice as loyal to fashion brands as men, while customers over 60 are less likely to switch banks.

The survey revealed that the travel industry commands the least loyalty with only 3% of consumers considering themselves loyal to airlines and travel companies, compared to 33% who claim to be loyal to supermarket brands and 23% to banks.

The research follows similar findings from the Direct Marketing Association, which revealed that 71% of consumers don’t trust the financial sector in the wake of the financial crisis.

Isaacs says: “Travel brands are likely to fall low on the customer loyalty ranking because holidays and flights are low frequency purchases, meaning travel companies have very few interactions with consumers, and therefore fewer opportunities to build relationships with them. Travel brands need to put more focus on engaging with customers during their buying-cycle to capture additional data and build appropriate relationships.”

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