There once was a time when consumers would define themselves by the brands they purchase. This is no longer the case and; in fact, consumers are switching brands at a faster rate than ever before. Indeed, research conducted by consultants McKinsey finds that 40% of consumers are switching brands at the current time, creating a huge headache for companies that have previously rested their fortunes on brand loyalty. Recapturing that slice of the market and rebuilding loyalty has come through a number of different methods, from authentic marketing through to the drive towards personalization.
Marketing can no longer be an auto-generated, ‘plastic’ feeling affair. Consumers have always valued authenticity, according to the Harvard Business Review, but this has become ever-more-important in the modern digital age when consumers are, almost literally, bombarded with advertisements. Marketing efforts have to be deeply personal and businesses have to reflect a commitment to themselves and customers – slip-ups, where company information at odds with marketing campaigns is exposed, can be deadly for business prospects. Proper authentic marketing campaigns are the name of the game; cultural icons like Ben & Jerry’s have staked their reputation on this in 2021, sometimes causing controversy, but it really is a necessity to stay true to the brand.
Microsoft has been a fixture in the modern business landscape for decades now. However, they have suffered from reputational damage and, since the rise of the other tech giants – Facebook, Google, Apple and so on – have faced other companies taking a large slice out of their market share. In recent years, Microsoft has dialed back aggressive business practices and instead worked on purchasing and developing tech. They have diversified considerably, moving into communications, social media, business productivity and hardware. As a result, CNBC have reported that Microsoft now derives one-third of their revenue from the cloud. Consumers are now becoming more loyal to Microsoft, and trusting their stable of products over competitors, clearly showing the benefits of developing that loyalty.
According to one analysis by Inc, brands should forget about loyalty entirely. What does that mean, exactly? It means moving away from the idea that a brand should be the final note in any consumer’s buying habits, and instead moving to the idea that brands should simply be close to their personal values. This ties in with the importance of authenticity in marketing, and is an interesting thought. Moving from a model where you try and work around how customers feel about your brand, it instead focuses on the emotions of what drives customers, identifying them, and then driving your brand using that. This is far more flexible than the idea of creating a specific message around which your customers can rally.
Flexibility is the keyword. Brands need to be far more receptive to consumer trends and thoughts than before. Constructing a brand around a static message and expecting loyalty is folly; instead, focus on how you can adapt to customers.