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Role reversal

From consumer loyalty to loyal brand


Lionel Gomez

Head of Strategy

Wunderman Groupe


It has never been easier to be unfaithful to a brand. There is widespread mistrust of big business, personalized targeting is on the rise, and there is public anxiety about the use of personal data. At the same time, trends are seamlessly connected via the speed of social networking, and consumers have permanent connectivity and one-click access to competing brands. These shifts, along with the explosion of e-commerce, flash promotions and private sales, have given rise to an increasingly volatile and promiscuous consumer.


Technology offers new ways to identify, track and target individuals, and loyalty programs have become mobile and geolocalized. Beacons bring customer relationship management into stores, allowing « push » messages to be targeted and customized offers to be created. Touching the right individual at the right time with the right message ... we have been talking about this for years. Finally, the promise has become reality. And we are adding to this: "in the right context, and on the right screen".


Today we are faced with a new paradigm of loyalty. An international Wunderman study among C-level executives has shown that most loyalty programs do not actually build loyalty to a brand, nor really succeed in increasing the average basket size over the long term. We have also found that, in a world driven by an ever-increasing transparency, consumer control and a general decline in trust in brands and advertising, brands need to do more than just sell their products. Brands now have to prove that they want us, their customers. And they have to prove it at every stage of the consumer journey, not just in advertising. We call it #Wantedness: "the quality of being desired or wanted".


But what are the rules and the challenges for the brands seeking to be desired and to win consumer loyalty?


We have identified seven levers of loyalty:


Exceeding standards: Consumers want to engage with brands that redefine the rules of the game regarding product, experience and service.


Competing beyond your category: Being the best in its class is no longer sufficient for a brand. Consumers compare brands in many categories to the likes of innovative giants such as Netflix, Uber, Starbucks or Tesla.


Leading the way and innovating, innovating, innovating: Consumers want brands to go beyond their own borders and comfort zones, and invent.


"Brand me": People want their purchases to reflect who they are and what they believe in. Consumers are loyal to brands that share their values.


"I want you to want me": The vast majority of consumers consider buying only from the brands they feel understand and care for them.


Simplify life: Consumers think that the best brands make their lives easier.


Understanding the individual and not the consumer: Shoppers are more loyal to brands that demonstrate a clear understanding of their priorities and preferences at every stage of the customer journey.


Engaging in a brand's loyalty program is relatively demanding for a consumer, who must follow the rules to earn their "reward". Our study has taught us that the brands earning most loyalty will no longer be those that build programs but rather those that invest in technology and customer-journey analysis to deliver total, inspiring, engaging experiences. The winners will be those that balance service creativity and brand content.


The loyalty program is not dead, but it must be everywhere, and sometimes even directly in the product, when it is in use. Uber understands the things that are important to its consumers, and has addressed each of them: price, effortless and safe payment, limited waiting times, and the courteousness of the driver. This experience is continually being improved.


The key today is that before you ask people to make an effort and be loyal, brands have to invest in looking at consumers, their needs, their expectations and even their anxieties. It is no longer enough to want consumers to be loyal to a brand; the brand must be loyal to its consumers. #WANTEDNESS