I’m a consumer, you’re a consumer we’re all consumers, aren’t we? As consumers, we have personal core values that help guide us to the brands that we feel a connection to. Perhaps it’s the brands that we grew up with, or maybe we were early believers in a small company that grew into a huge corporation. Sometimes, brands are perfectly positioned to introduce something that you have been wanting or needing in your life. Marketers, historically have paid very close attention to this behavior. Although the methods for conducting these studies and collecting the data has changed through the years, we consumers tend to follow certain patterns that either leads us to or drives us away from certain brands. What makes a consumer loyal to a brand, and more importantly, what keeps a consumer loyal to that brand?
According to Rakuten Martech’s latest insights on this study, there are 6 stages of consumer engagement that enables marketers to better understand consumer’s “brand affinity”. The Consumer’s brand hierarchy is as follows:
- Awareness– an introduction is made to a brand. Does the consumer identify with the brand? Will it fit within their lifestyle? Does the consumer like the brand’s culture or mission?
- Acquaintance– This can happen within 1-3 purchases of a brand. Style, flavor, comfort, performance, quality and even a consumer identifying with the lifestyle associated with that brand can make or break the rest of the brand-related journey.
- Trust– 4 plus purchases of the brand. Brand value increases with each purchase.
- Infatuation– The brand is becoming a staple for the consumer. It’s important to note that if a consumer has grown up with the brand- this is generally where they will start on their adult personal journey with the brand they’ve known and loved and will continue to love. These are the strongest consumers that any brand could ask for. They’re smitten!
- Fidelity– In any relationship, things can go wrong. Even the most loyal consumers may balk at a new version, style, formula, recipe, or system of a brand if it doesn’t meet their expectations. It’s critical that brands leverage all strategies that bring new consumers to them as well as, solutions for long-standing fans that may feel dispirited with an imperfect purchase. Making things “right” is the only way for that relationship to continue and thrive.
- Evangelism– This is the ideal behavior for any brand’s consumer. They know and trust the brand and will share or preach about the brand’s: authenticity, reliability, high quality, performance etc.
Brand agility requires a very different way to think about how to manage brands and how to be willing to position brands in a way that consumers want and need them. Marketers understand that consumer values are constantly changing. Today we are seeing that consumers are putting an emphasis on the need for brands to be authentic; the need for brands to evolve; the need for a brand, if it’s going to be successful, to have a sense of the greater community. Brand agility in the marketplace today means that brands need to be adaptive, to have a willingness to change, to evolve, depending on the various influences on a category or market they find themselves in.