In short: brand loyalty is the affection, fidelity, and commitment a consumer has for a brand or product. Back in the 90s, in the prehistoric time before social media, marketers had a lot fewer resources at much higher costs to communicate with consumers.
Due to the high costs of media, such as magazine ads, back bus banners, TV ads, and radio ads, the advantage of brand exposure was for those who had high budgets.
There was not much room for building brand communities, better understanding the audiences’ behaviors, or receiving timely feedback on their products (if you haven’t noticed, these are all benefits of social media that we often take for granted).
Yet, it was not uncommon to hear about brand loyalty and the extremes consumers would go to to acquire a loved product. At that time, brand loyalty was expressed in ways that are uncommon today – think of Heinz lovers who would travel long distances to buy their favorite ketchup or Coca-Cola lovers who would never taste a drop of Pepsi, no matter what. Apple aficionados who spend hours in line to get their new model of iPhone or, going way back, Atari fans who would wait endless months for a new game to be launched.
Communicating a company’s identity – who they are, what they do, their values, and how they help consumers – are part of brand marketing activities. It takes time, effort, consistency, and a deep understanding of a particular consumer segment to establish a crucial part of the brand-consumer relationship: trust.
This story illustrates the importance of brand loyalty in brand marketing in this new decade. Authenticity, personality, and strong values matter more than ever. In a time where consumers are bombarded with marketing messages online and offline, global promotions, and infinite options, consumer loyalty is the result of a hard-earned trust gained by the brand.