New research reveals what it takes to create a ‘loved retail brand’

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Love for the brand has a huge impact on a customer’s loyalty to a retailer, as well as their likelihood to recommend it to others, according to a new study. People who love a brand are three times more likely to recommend it and will tolerate it making twice as many mistakes as any other before taking their custom elsewhere. Indeed, according to the Brand Love report, a retailer that is loved can mess up almost five times and people will still stay loyal to it.

The research, which was carried out by Energy PR among over 100 top marketers, identifies what it takes to create a great brand and what more is needed if it’s to be loved. According to the marketing experts, contrary to popular opinion, being original isn’t that important when it comes to greatness. Despite the success of innovative retailers such as Apple and IKEA, only 17 percent of marketers think that uniqueness is important, and just 1 in 10 (11 percent) believe a brand’s greatness is determined by its level of innovation. Instead, they argue the key ingredients for greatness are trust (60 percent) and how a brand makes a consumer feel (58 percent). These out-perform even practical considerations such as customer support (34 percent) and value for money (33 percent).

Even if a brand achieves greatness, this is no guarantee that it will be loved according to the Brand Love report.  To be loved involves a greater level of intimacy; over half of the marketers studied suggest a loved brand is aligned to the customer’s values (55 percent), indeed it must be part of their life according to 42 percent. Over a third (38 percent) went further, adding that such a brand needs to be closely tied with the customer’s identity.

Interestingly, the list of brands that marketers feel 100% committed to is dominated by retailers, with Amazon, Tesco, Asda, Apple and Nike all appearing in the top 10. However, the Brand Love report also identifies intriguing quirks of consumer behaviour which retailers must consider. Firstly, many could be mistaking apathy for loyalty as, according to the study, consumers are incredibly apathetic – willing to tolerate an average of two mistakes from even an ordinary brand before being compelled to shop around. This passivity could be enabling a lot of inferior customer service to go unpunished.  The flip side is that once such passive customers are eventually lost, winning them back will be incredibly difficult.

Brand Love also identifies a ‘recommender gene’ which some people simply do or don’t have, and which will overrule how they feel about a brand; for instance, even among the consumers who love a brand, 10 percent will still not recommend it (or any other). Contrarily 30 percent of people who are not that committed to any brand will still happily recommend brands to others, with H&M and Apple amongst those most likely to be recommended.

When it comes to the most common mistakes brands make on the path to greatness and love, these centre around neglecting the feelings of customers by focussing solely on new customers (58 percent), forgetting current customers (54 percent), being inconsistent with messaging (28 percent), failing to understand customers properly (28 percent) and not being authentic (27 percent).

Louise Findlay-Wilson, managing director of Energy PR, which conducted the study comments: “A key take away from our research is that the best brands aren’t necessarily great innovators, but, if you read between the lines, they are all great communicators. Without communications retailers will struggle to demonstrate their values or become part of someone’s life and identity. Communications are an effective way to show customers that a brand ‘gets them’, it cares, and to make them feel good. And once the customer loves a brand, those communications are still crucial. As our research shows, a consumer may tolerate a retailer they love messing up, but they won’t tolerate it neglecting them in favour of new customers. That’s a massive betrayal of that all-important trust. That’s why great communications remain key.”

The brands the 100 top marketers love the most are:

  1. Apple
  2. Nike
  3. Adidas
  4. Sky
  5. Samsung
  6. L’Oréal
  7. Amazon
  8. E.on
  9. Tesco
  10. Asda