57 per cent of customers stayed faithful to a brand during the tumultuous year of 2020

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In a recent survey shared with Marketing Dive by marketing company Merkle, 81% of customers said they want to form a partnership with brands, indicating their desire to engage in loyalty programmes. According to the survey, 70 per cent of customers prefer discounts to free goods (65 per cent), free trials (51 per cent), free services (48 per cent), and a chance to win prizes (28 per cent).

Consumers like surprises as well, with 58 per cent stating that sales and gifts are the most important way for brands to connect with them and recognise their loyalty. The pandemic’s changes to everyday activities have people asking retailers to help make their lives simpler. Forty-one per cent of those polled said brands needed to make the shopping experience more convenient.

Despite the events, of2020, which included the start of the pandemic, civil turmoil, and the U.S. presidential election, more than half(57%) of respondents said they remained loyal to a brand. According to a survey of 1,500 U.S. customers, about half(49%) said such incidents had not deterred them from buying a brand.

For years, brand loyalty has been a top priority for advertisers, but the pandemic’s supply chain disruptions tested consumers’ commitment to their favourite brands. Many customers were pressured to try new brands and shops as shoppers cleared supermarket shelves in the early days of the crisis. According to Merkle’s study, the majority of customers remained loyal to a brand last year, highlighting the value of catering to customer needs in unpredictable times.

Many customers want to feel like their loyalty and purchases matter, despite their willingness to develop longer-term relationships with brands. According to the survey, nearly half of consumers(45%) want to “feel like the brand appreciates my company,” while 14 per cent want to “feel like the brand knows me,” and another 14 per cent want to feel associated with the brand “on a shared cause or collection of values.”

Although customers enjoy surprises and convenience, 40% of them believe that saying “thank you” for their company is one of the most important ways to connect with them. According to Merkle, the simple gesture “costs nothing” and “resonates with people,” demonstrating that a company values a customer’s business and respects its part in the brand’s success.

In2020, 18 per cent of customers who switched brands said their old brand was unavailable, while 16 per cent said a new brand offered a better discount or price than other alternatives. Consumers may be convinced to move back, with 23% of survey respondents saying they would return to a brand if a discount was given. Making a product or service accessible again (19 per cent), apologising or justifying a position on a public concern (12 per cent), or presenting details on how a brand outperforms competitors were all more common responses (11 per cent).

Loyalty programmes are critical for advertisers, who are expected to have more difficulty targeting their digital ads in the coming years, in addition to helping brands weather disruptions like the pandemic. Google is deprecating third-party cookies in Chrome, and Apple is changing its software to require customers’ permission to be monitored by apps, forcing advertisers to find new ways to communicate with customers and encourage repeat purchases. According to Merkle’s research, tailoring loyalty programmes to suit customer tastes is critical to sustaining these relationships.

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