Addressing the Customer Loyalty Challenge Through Emotional Drivers

Retail experiences still matter: consumers’ shopping behavior reveal that 96% of Americans research and browse online, yet 65% of their actual spending is done in physical stores.[1] In order to reach potential customers at key points along their shopping journeys, savvy retailers must engage their audience across all platforms. The new question looming for businesses, however, is the growing challenge of retaining customers’ loyalty to their brand.

Today’s shoppers have more 24/7 “click to buy” information and worldwide shopping power than ever before.  Armed with countless choices and authentic reviews, customers can easily compare products and find appealing alternatives that offer better value, more features, time-saving home delivery, and more.  But for businesses, the growing amount of knowledge and choice available to their customers are undermining brand loyalty. 

Some brands, such as Sephora, Ulta Beauty, and Starbucks, have responded by successfully launching innovative F2F and online loyalty building programs. Both Sephora and Ulta Beauty have mastered the in-store, personalized shopping experience, offering customized makeup advice, sampling and makeovers with in-store events.  Leveraging their apps, social media, and email databases, Starbucks has fully integrated their online and in-store experiences to deliver a faster, more frictionless retail experience.

Customers expect a seamless experience across digital and in-store channels, with personalization that adds value and sets the best brands apart from the crowd.  Yet not all companies are seeing progress and prosperity in the face of the shifting loyalty landscape despite making these investments.  Some have resorted to aggressive loyalty and rewards programs that do very little, particularly the retailer is too late to the game. 

The key to building a seamlessly integrated F2F and digital experience that drives customer loyalty and sales is by identifying and building off of the customer’s emotional drivers. A.I.-based research shows that over 80% of buyers will continue to buy from brands with which they have high levels of emotional engagement, but only 38% will return if emotional engagement is low. Yet while over 80% of executives believe their brand understands customers’ needs, only 15% of customers agree.[2]

In order to build a customer experience that successfully answers the challenge of declining brand loyalty, businesses must identify the emotions that drive their customers before building the experience, instead of mindlessly following trends and copying competitors. 

Using this Experience-Driven Design© Method will drive the innovation of a unique customer experience that is able to be integrated seamlessly across digital and in-store platforms to build long-lasting customer loyalty – and, ultimately, grow sales.