Are Loyal Customers a Thing of the Past?
You’re working hard to connect with both potential and current customers these days, be it via traditional radio or digital, outdoor or social endeavors, and you’re continuing to make sales. But it’s no longer easy to have a repeat customer at “hello.” Today’s consumers expect much more from their shopping experience in order to make a return visit, or become that coveted customer for life – if there is such a thing anymore. Gone are the days when customers will only buy a Lexus without also considering a Mercedes, a Volvo, and a BMW. Which means where they’ll buy this luxury car may also change. So, what are you doing to retain a customer’s jewelry purchasing loyalty in your store after they’ve made a purchase?
According to a 2014 Ernst & Young survey of approximately 25,000 people spanning 34 countries, fewer than 25 percent said of U.S. citizens said brand loyalty was a factor in their purchasing decision. While many consumers opt for well-known brands for some purchases such as clothing and electronics, many consumers tend to go where the deals are – regardless of who manufactures the product.
The state of the economy, which has not recovered to the extent expected, is not helping matters either. It’s driving what people can afford. This, in turn, is allowing lesser-known brands to make their own pitch right next to those with clout. With Millennials starting to make some of their important jewelry purchases now when the economy is not so stellar, will they reverse this trend as they get older and have more spending power? It may not be so easy to change a mindset when a deal becomes more important than brand loyalty. This is why now, more than ever, it’s essential to provide a fair price, exceptional service, and opportunities to bring your customers back to your store.
To combat these issues thus far, retailers have been entrenching themselves in developing programs that reward their customers. Ulta, Starbucks, and American Eagle are just a few. Perhaps you have even signed up for one yourself. For the exchange of certain information, like your name, address, and birthday, a customer receives a loyalty card that enables them to receive points with a purchase, and perhaps invitations to special events or an opportunity to preview events before the general public. After a certain dollar amount is met, the customer who signed up for the rewards program receives a gift certificate toward a future purchase, a percentage off, or a special birthday treat. Sometimes a customer can receive double the number of points during certain promotions. Who doesn’t like to receive a perk now and then? But, more importantly, rewards program perks put the retailer top of mind over their competitors when shopping opportunities arise.
Although perks and rewards programs may help in some fashion, according to that same Ernst & Young survey, “Organizations (brands) have to go back to basics and get to know their consumers if they are to develop strong and profitable customer relationships. They must engage in a different type of dialogue, characterized by a new way of listening and talking, in neutral forums governed by different rules. ” Ask your customers post-sale how their experience was. Digest their feedback. Ask them what they’d like to see in your store. What would make them happier? What would make them come back? Then put what you’ve learned in place. Engage with your customer. Make sure you’re communicating with them often through phone calls and regular email blasts, but most importantly, listen.
Angie Ash is Executive Vice President of Fruchtman Marketing, a full-service agency headquartered in Toledo, Ohio, representing independent jewelers, jewelry manufacturers and trade organizations throughout the U.S. You can reach Fruchtman Marketing at 1-800-481-3520, and sign up for their free weekly newsletter, Tuesday Tips & Tricks at fruchtman.com.