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In-depth: What makes consumers love a brand speaks to industry stalwarts to find out how brands create customer loyalty and how marketers can connect with consumers to develop their trust and spark brand evangelism

In today’s consumer-driven world, there’s an onslaught of competing products with identical features but different brand names. In such a scenario, brands go all out to satisfy consumers with their products and services. What it is that makes a consumer love brands? Why are they so loyal to some but not to others?

Remember ‘chaar boondon wala Ujala’, the cloth whitener? Everybody from Gen X-Z in India have either seen the product in their houses or used it. Why? Because the Gen X-Y had trust in its quality. Another factor is the consistency of the jingle ‘chaar boondon wala’, which gives a quick recall in the mind about the product.

But at times, a brand may fail to maintain the trust they have generated in a consumer’s mind or a consumer might shift his or her loyalty due to various factors.

It’s a two-way thing. If a brand thinks about customer satisfaction and organises itself accordingly, the chances of it remaining stable in the market and in the consumers’ heart increase manifold. speaks to industry stalwarts to elaborate on how brands create customer loyalty and how marketers can connect with consumers to develop their trust and spark brand evangelism.

Kedar Apte

Speaking on a consumer’s love for a brand, Kedar Apte, VP, Marketing, Castrol India, said, “A product experience cherishes the consumer when the brand offers something unique, though intangible at times. A great non-fluctuating service is what makes the brand strong. The brand should also make consumers feel that the brand is their friend.”

Apte gave example of Indigo Airlines, which developed a friendlier behaviour with consumers to build a stronger customer relationship.

According to Apte, a brand should use real insights from consumers to make a connection with them.

“Ceat Tyres emphasises on the product’s benefit of superior grip by taking a dig at people taking traffic rules lightly, which makes an instant connect with consumers,” Apte pointed out.

The brand should be consistent on its marketing logo, mark, jingle or a campaign and should be social purpose-driven in order to create a positive impact on a consumer mind.

Shivaji Dasgupta

Shivaji Gupta, Founder of INEXGRO Brand Advisory, said, “Love to a particular brand will happen when it performs brilliantly, makes a genuine difference to their lives, offers desirable value for money and is enthused by a tangible purpose.”

Deepika Tewari

According to Deepika Tewari, AVP, Marketing, Jewellery Division, Titan Company, “There are three significant factors in order to become the first choice of a consumer. The value delivered by the brand, the brand’s voice and the perceived aspirational value attached.”

“A consumer is interested if a brand is enhancing their life and is adding a certain value, only then the customer loyalty can be built. A customer chooses a brand because their values reflect their values and resonates with them,” Tewari added.

Vivek Nayer

Vivek Nayer, Chief Marketing Officer, Group Corporate Brand at Mahindra and Mahindra, said, “Consumers love brands that not only offer a set of rational benefits to them but also go beyond the rational and functional to an emotional space. There is a set of emotional benefits that brand brings to the consumer and the consumer believes that this brand gives me above than any other brand of a particular segment.”

Nayer elaborates on the emotional connect with the SUV category in cars, “Let’s take an example of Scorpio. Besides its features and tech benefits, the emotional benefit of the product is that it gives the king of the road feeling to its rider. Brands that go beyond rational, functional to emotional space can get love of their consumers.”

According to Nayer, “Consumers love brands that are able to create a deeper connect with them compared to other brands, and the deeper connect comes from several factors. If a brand can offer what a consumer is looking for in a differentiated manner both in terms of product and experience, it starts leading to brand love from a consumer. A great example here is Tanishq. The brand clearly understands its target consumer. They not only bring out innovative products and services but their in-store experiences give consumers a special feeling.”

“Authenticity in the products is equally important for a brand if they want the consumers to stick to them,” he said.

“There are several dimensions to authenticity, a brand needs to have a clean image and high governance standards, it should be transparent to its consumers, it need to be socially responsible towards the community and the planet and brands like Tata, Mahindra fall in such a category. To be authentic, the brands also need to admit its mistake and complaints coming from the consumer’s end,” Nayer said.

Kalyan Kumar

According to Kalyan Kumar, Co-Founder and CEO, Social Catalyzers, “There are quite a few brands that are loved, some last longer, some manage an initial short term for emotional and rational reasons.

Setting up an emotional connect

Warmth and competence are two big components of the emotional and rational constructs. It's really a nicely cross-tabbed multiplicity of possibilities. Warmth is about "what is a brand's feeling towards me?" implying empathy or connect, while, competence is about "the brand's ability to carry out those feelings". A lot of the rational bits come out in this part of the construct or at the very least, instilling belief.

At the very least, loved brands are able to connect uniquely and emotionally through communication and have to back that up with a product and actions that live up to those claims, and finally, people are emotional, and love flattery too. There's a lot of consumer behaviour and more recently technology-led "brain hacking" that can get you things, that went possible before, but that last bit is a whole new story.”

Jai Krishnan

Jai Krishnan, Chief Executive Officer, Samsonite India, said, “Older brands like Samsonite have built huge amount of trust in its consumer’s mindset by providing good products and services. Majorly on this basis, a consumer gets connected to the brand. People who buy Samsonite trust that this company will give me the best quality and innovations. Discounts are temptations to the consumer given by newer brands and brands in competition. People who are genuinely in love with a brand generally don’t fall for such temptations, even if they do, that’s simply for a change just to explore beyond the favourite brands.’’

Jagdeep Kapoor

According to Jagdeep Kapoor of Samsika Consultants, relevance, memorability, trust and contemporariness are the four elements that will tie a preference knot between a consumer and a brand.

He elaborates, point-wise.

*Relevance: If a consumer has a particular need, and a brand is relevantly able to meet that need, then there is a tendency to like or love that brand. On the other hand, if a brand is offering an attribute or feature that is different from the consumers need, then there is no question of loving that brand.

*Memorable: If a brand is not on the top of a mind of a buyer and is not memorable, it would not be a consumer’s love. Memorability is a hook that makes a consumer recalls a brand. The recall comes from the packaging, logo; good product experience, communication and all these factors are the love paths on which a consumer walks for a brand.

*Trust: The brand should not let down a consumer. The credibility and trust of the brand are very critical to the consumer because the consumer treats the loved brands as near and dear ones.

*The brand has to be contemporary. If it’s not contemporary, then the brand is temporary.

“These elements would not only make a consumer love a brand at a point of time but over a period of time,” he added

Speaking on consumers opting for newer brands apart from the brands they love, Kapoor said, “Flirtations are temporary but marriage is permanent.” Saying this, he meant a consumer can opt for new offers, seeing the profitability of discounts or extra services offered by the brands, but that doesn’t lessen the preference for the brand they love.

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