The practice of customer loyalty marketing has become commonplace for many brands. However, by not pushing boundaries it is true to say that apathy can develop among people who feel increasingly less loyal to favored brands. As competition becomes ever more fierce in the battle to win over these customers, it can send them fleeing for cover from the deluge of loyalty tactics. To overcome this, brands have to think smart and focus more on delivering the customer touch points that matter most to their target group, something which first has to be identified.
Market research can be an extremely effective tool in finding this out, so that any loyalty tactics are hitting the right note from the outset. Gaining a real understanding of what is important to customers, what keeps them coming back for more and how to engage and retain them in the future, is imperative in an age where consumers can be swayed very easily.
And it is understanding this consumer journey, from decision-making to actual purchasing, that is driving market research today. And what better example of this than the recently announced Impact 2015 event to be held in March next year, run by the Market Research Association (MRS), which is themed “Understanding Consumer Behavior in a Changing World”.
Not only can effective market research help in finding out what will resonate with target markets, but the act itself can actually boost brand loyalty. Some of our own research showed that 62 per cent of survey respondents feel more loyal to a brand that has asked their opinion in the first place.
Market research is increasingly being used both before and after loyalty marketing to monitor the effectiveness. This is not only to find out what kinds of promotions will most appeal to target customers, but also to gauge post-promotion and whether it will be well-received. It can help brands get the most value and ROI on the marketing budgets available. For instance, it can be hugely beneficial when it comes to understanding the difference between perceived and real value of consumer offers and how to leverage them.
By investing in research panels, brands can establish what their customers perceive as high value, which may in fact differ greatly from its real cost. For example, if a hotel was to offer free rooms at quieter times to its valued customers, the perceived value to the customer could be far greater than actual value. For the hotel, giving away a room in a lower occupancy period is insignificant in terms of cost. This can really help brands to work smart in a competitive arena and really maximize their budgets.
Market research is valuable in uncovering the behavioral characteristics that best reflect the opinions of their target market. If a consumer would not consider buying a certain make of car due to the servicing facilities nearby presenting a perceived cost, they may become more likely to buy if they were offered a free collect and return service. What all this means is that brands can tailor their approach to the priorities of the consumer, as long as they know what those priorities are!
In short, without investing in sufficient research to gather insights into their customer base, brands can find their investment in loyalty marketing wasted.
Bo Mattsson is the chief executive of Cint, a global provider of market research tools and survey sampling solutions for obtaining market insight from engaged online panels via its OpinionHUB global exchange platform. Bo founded Cint in 1998 when he decided to apply his experience of trading online to the market research industry. He then took over as CEO in 2003 to revamp the core technology behind the market research tools into an exchange-based offering for transparent respondent access. For further information, please visit www.cint.com.