- 1. Definition
- 2. Overview and development of brand loyalty
- 3. Advantages and disadvantages
- 4. Relevance to influencer marketing
- 5. Current best practices
Table of contents
Brands and companies learned early about the importance of brand loyalty. They also learned early on that a brand representative that resembles or reminds the target audience of themselves goes a long way toward boosting sales. Case in point: Maybelline’s sales increased when it switched to its “Maybe She’s Born With It, Maybe It’s Maybelline,” campaign led by the girl next door turned supermodel Christy Turlington.
Brand loyalty means that the consumer chooses the brand or product consistently over all others. Even if they try another brand once, the new brand loses the comparison and they return to the original.
Overview and development of brand loyalty
What began as personas like Betty Crocker became celebrity and model representatives. Models like Gigi Hadid, Maybelline’s “face” since 2015, sign multi-year contracts to represent a brand. As traditional advertising lost its pull though, a new kind of brand representative emerged – the brand influencer. This began as firms discovered the power of word of mouth (WoM) advertising, noticing that as individuals with active social media accounts posted positively or negatively about their products, it affected sales. WoM affected brand/product loyalty because people often listen to the opinions of those they trust.
This emerged into a focused mechanism of identifying these trusted sources, then offering them an incentive-free product or pay – in exchange for reviews or posts. According to Ad Week, influencers became “de rigueur” for marketing campaigns. Influence marketing reaches millennials and Generation Z more effectively because they view brands and advertising differently. Ad Week reports that 74 percent of millennials and Generation Z members don’t like targeted ads on their social media feeds. Conversely, 92 percent favor influencers and find their recommendations authentic.
Advantages and disadvantages
The advantage of brand loyalty is continued sales. While obtaining new customers remains important, retaining the old customers is the key to stable development. Loyalty to a brand means it lasts. Influencers help by resonating in an authentic one-on-one manner with consumers.
The main disadvantage is how quickly the field of top influencers changes. At one time, celebrities with 20 million followers or more led the pack. Now, every group except micro-influencers, individuals with less than 250,000 followers, outperforms celebrities. The brands – and celebs - need the help of popular content creators with between one million to 19.9 million followers or emerging influencers with followings of between 250,000 to 999,000, according to two recent studies by Fullscreen and Shareablee. The ever-changing ideal follower count means a constant change of who to use.
Relevance to influencer marketing
Appropriately utilizing influencers increases brand loyalty. It illustrates to consumers that people just like them like the product or brand. It also brings to life a persona of the brand that triggers customer's emotional buying motives.
Current best practices
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) sets regulations regarding influence marketing. These include requiring brand representatives and influencers to reveal any affiliation with a brand on each post or blog. It also requires the placement of the hashtag #ad on any brand sponsored post on social media such as Instagram. This authenticity resonates with consumers though.
With respect to building campaigns and obtaining representatives, many brands and companies now use influencer management agencies that handle all aspects for them. This benefits them by obtaining an expert manager who also knows and enforces the appropriate FTC regulations. They also keep abreast of changes in consumer likes and dislikes, such as the change in the key influencers noted above.
Using artificial intelligence to research consumer needs and desires continues as a factor in developing brand and company loyalty. Big data helps companies learn what consumers want, then turn it back to them.