By: Adam Helliwell, Managing Partner, We Launch.
“When it comes to customers, most discussions centre on acquisition and retention, but it is an unpalatable truth that the majority of customers hold no true brand loyalty in the age of fast fashion and even cheaper prices. Past research has shown that 91% of unhappy customers will not complain in the hope brands will do better, they will simply leave. So how can brands retain their customers and seize the opportunity to create a better experience for them?
Last month we sadly saw high street hero Gap close its bricks and mortar doors for the final time in the UK. However, following this, one wonders what might have accelerated the store closures, even in light of the struggling high street and the impact of the pandemic. Many high street retailers are subject to constant promotion and discount culture, which admittedly works to temporarily increase traffic, drive units and achieve sales targets. However, this more often than not creates a divide between a brand and its customers. With a constant barrage of communications that offer little in terms of genuine quality material, it’s no wonder they often feel alienated.
Brands must work hard to build a strong valuation for themselves with customers. In the first instance relationships will more often than not translate into larger profits, so it is vitally important to stay at the forefront of their minds. However, this can be detrimental in the long run, constant emails, promoted posts, window posters, and BOGOF shelf signage will have a huge contribution to customers feeling seen but not heard. With that in mind, it’s no surprise that customers deter from entering a brand’s retail stores and let them know they are no longer interested in choosing their services. Reaching out to these disenfranchised customers with more marketing material will only add to this and likely cause lasting damage to the relationship. Addressing the problem before it becomes one is most likely the best answer.
Keeping a regular drumbeat of communication with your customers across all channels is vital to staying front of mind, and ahead of the competition. Providing customers with useful, relevant content that is engaging, thoughtful and aligned with their values, will help to maintain a relationship with them – even though this may not be transactional or commercial for some time.
If you can build brand equity before frustrations manifest themselves then they will value their connection to the brand enough to warrant them to continue engaging with your product. This is of course easier said than done, but an investment in brand marketing that says more and less often can potentially circumvent the issue.
Today’s retail landscape ultimately means that when a brand launches a new product, the customer is in control. It’s almost got to the point where they decide how much to pay; if they hold out for long enough, that new season dress will be on 20% off next week – hands up who hasn’t searched for a discount code? Achieving cut through and actually converting the customer is becoming so much harder. Brands should focus on consistent customer experience both on and offline, adding value by surprising and delighting, looking after the core customers by rewarding them, engaging with their audiences on a personal level, showing they really understand them, and being creative with ALL brand communication. Most importantly, brands must be present and relevant wherever their customers are, ensuring there is cross-functional collaboration throughout the business.
In an age where the new consumer is constantly on the lookout for the best deal or the hottest trend, struggling retailers must look to what once made them thrive in shopping centres and highstreets across the country. Creating an experience that is worthy of what their brand can offer them and proving that a great experience with a brand may well be superior to a ‘buy one get one free’ offer.”