Building brand loyalty is critical to long-term success. It’s no secret that customer acquisition costs are on the rise. Paid ads are going up in price, and an over-saturated eCommerce environment makes it more challenging to get a good return on investment when it comes to conversions. To get the best bang for their buck, increasing loyalty among Millennials and Gen Z is currently at the forefront of many brands’ marketing strategies.
Times have changed, and cultures have shifted. Growing up online has altered how Millennials and Generation Z interact with each other and brands. The tactics that worked to build brand loyalty with previous generations are less effective.
So how can brands capture and increase loyalty among the younger generations?
Be Customer Obsessed
Despite participation in popular trends and a blurring of cultures online, Millennials and Gen Z want to be seen as unique individuals. They want to feel like the brands they purchase from understand them and go the extra mile to make them feel valued.
Consumers interact with brands in previously unheard-of ways. They follow brands on social media and comment on posts just as they would with people. Brands need to reciprocate this relationship by becoming customer obsessed.
With endless articles about how “the youth” are killing certain traditional business models, it’s clear that attitudes towards companies have changed. Therefore the approach to winning consumer loyalty must change as well. Millennials and Gen Z don’t feel it’s their responsibility to support brands as much as it is the brand’s responsibility to support them. A heavier focus on customer experience is needed.
Ways brands can improve their customer experience include:
- Creating ultra-niche content
- Adding personal touches to purchases like a bonus surprise or thank you card
- Authentically embracing diversity in brand image
- Prioritizing transparency
- Owning errors and making them right
- Asking for and implementing feedback
- Making data-informed decisions
Millennials and Gen Z are careful about their purchasing. 82% of shoppers want the values of the brands they buy from to align with their own. In a global economy, we have endless brand choices. It makes sense that - given similar products and quality - consumers will drift towards those that better align with their values.
Brands must seriously consider their values and incorporate them into their brand image and marketing. But this comes with its own warning. Be authentic.
Virtue signaling is another no-go with the current generations. We see this in the criticism of “Rainbow Capitalism.” This is where brands appear to use events like pride month to showcase the LGBTQ community in content, resulting in an inauthentic attempt at winning social approval and, by extension, sales.
Choose one or two significant issues to align your brand with and really commit. Support organizations related to those causes and integrate these values as deeply into your company as possible. Trying to stand for everything waters down your efforts and can appear disingenuous. And that’s almost worse than standing for nothing in the first place.
Be Digitally Present
Millennials and Gen Z were raised on tech. It’s incredibly uncommon to see anyone from these age groups without a cell phone. It’s even more rare to find someone who uses little tech at all. Brands that aren’t present digitally don’t exist for most of the population. Even small, local brands need an online presence.
It’s a common comedic trope that the newer generations are terrified of phone calls. And while the majority can handle their own through vocal communication just fine, there is some truth to the sentiment. Many younger individuals prefer connecting with others through social media, text messages, or email. If these options aren’t present for your brand, you’re losing a good chunk of your customer base before they even connect with you.
With services like Google Business, where a potential customer can check hours of operations, a younger consumer will likely pass over a company that neglects to offer this information rather than making a call to ask.
Again, the younger generations believe brands are there for them, not the other way around. This means there’s an expectation of meeting them where they’re at. If they don’t use Facebook, they’ll expect your brand to be present on Instagram. Brands need to be multi-channel - but with a caveat.
Different audiences hang out on different platforms. And for audiences that traverse multiple platforms, each serves a purpose. It’s not effective to post the same content across Facebook as you would on TikTok. Curate your content based on the platform it’s on.
Involve Your Consumers
True brand loyalty is built when your brand becomes a part of someone’s life. You’re top of mind when shopping and when your customers are asked for recommendations from their friends. But how do you achieve this? By becoming a part of your consumer’s life. Building relationships and allowing your consumers to participate in your brand are proven steps for building loyalty.
Some ways you can achieve this are:
- Loyalty programs that allow consumers to earn rewards
- Affiliate programs that reward consumers with a commission for any sales they refer
- Ambassador programs that ask your consumers to help create content in exchange for rewards
These allow you the unique opportunity to collaborate with, receive feedback, and build long-term relationships with your consumers. And the word-of-mouth you receive in exchange grows your customer base, giving you even more opportunities to build loyalty.
The economic forecasts for 2023 are precarious as we come out of a global pandemic and threats of recession loom. Consumers want to buy from brands they trust. With less expendable income, they have less room to risk trying new brands. Building loyalty now will keep your brand strong when times get tough.
Focus on your consumers, be authentic, meet them where they’re at, and build genuine connections to see brand loyalty soar among your Generation Z and Millennial audience.
The opinions expressed here by Guest Contributors are their own, not those of Rise Marketing.