People can’t help but develop brand preference and loyalty; for each of the various services and products they buy, there will always be a company that they believe provides the best service, prices, and experience. That company will earn their preference and possibly their loyalty. But brand preference and loyalty are two different concepts.
What is brand preference?
Brand preference develops when one brand consistently provides a pleasant experience for a customer. If a customer buys one brand of dog food and sees no issues with the food, likes the price, and notices that the dog enjoys it, they will likely develop a preference for that brand and be unlikely to branch out and try other brands. Brand preference does not equal loyalty, however.
What is loyalty?
Loyalty may develop when a customer forges connections with the employees or owners of a company. Customers that look forward to visiting a certain coffee shop each day to see their favorite barista – even if the shop is out of their way – are loyal customers. Those that visit the same coffee shop every day because it’s on the way to work and don’t know the baristas or attempt to forge deeper connections with employees likely just have a brand preference. If visiting the shop daily ends up building a connection between the customer and employees, that preference could develop into loyalty.
Customer brand preference and loyalty
Getting a customer to prefer your brand is the first step to creating loyalty. Once a brand preference has been established, the customer will continue to come to your store or visit your website somewhat regularly. Regular interactions and purchases create additional opportunities to connect with customers and begin to build loyalty out of their brand preference. In order to have a customer around long enough to build loyalty, the brand preference must be established.
For this reason, the employees you staff are very important. How they interact with your customers will determine if they develop a brand preference or true customer loyalty. Hire employees who understand the importance of the customer experience and don’t mind going out of their way to help. Creative problem-solving skills are essential in customer-facing staff. Positive communication techniques should be taught to ensure every customer leaves feeling satisfied.