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By Amy Onorato

The shift towards customer centricity has sparked a marketing movement, prompting retailers to reinvent the shopping experience

This year, customer experience has been thrown into the spotlight. The shift towards customer centricity throughout 2018 has sparked a marketing movement, prompting retailers to reinvent the shopping experience using more immersive and personalized tactics.

But as retailers move towards transformation, the issue of brand trust hangs in the balance. The Cambridge Analytica scandal thrust the data security conversation centerstage. And with Facebook’s recent admittal of another 50 million accounts compromised in late September, and Google’s shutdown of Google+ in the wake of a data breach, it doesn’t seem like the issue is going anywhere anytime soon.

Emerging data regulations, like GDPR and the CCPA are challenging marketers to change the way they interact with consumers when it comes to collecting personal information. But whether you’re subject to regulation or not, a new study from InMoment shows that brand trust is playing a larger role in providing better customer experiences.

InMoment surveyed 1,300 consumers in the United States for their “2018 Retail CX Trends Report,” which focused primarily around customer loyalty. InMoment found that 88 percent of consumers agreed that brand trust was “extremely important” when deciding where to shop. Sixty-seven percent said a break in brand trust (or “brands not living up to their promises”) was one of the biggest reasons they lost faith in a retailer their previously loved.

What does it take to build brand trust?

According to the InMoment study, the answer isn’t so simple. On the foundational side, personalization, product quality, data security, and customer feedback were all pillars of developing an effective strategy. But the heart of it came to understanding the motivations behind building customer relationships, and fostering loyalty.

The anatomy of loyal consumers

InMoment found that brand loyalty shifts between generations. Millennials were among the most vocal about buying from brands they trust. But the decision to remain loyal (or not loyal) to a particular brand was found to be largely data-driven across the board.

Broader accessibility to customer reviews and product research allows consumers to make more informed choices about the goods and services they’re investing in. The diversity in choice has led to a more diversified market. Sixty percent of consumers said they “play the field” when it comes to shopping, with loyalties to only a select handful of brands.

However, what consumers were found to be loyal to was not so much about the product a retailer was offering, but the value they find by shopping with a brand. This distinction, InMoment notes, places more emphasis on the way a brand positions itself — whether that’s through aligning with particular values, or providing unique experiences.

Strong customer relationships also don’t happen overnight. Eighty percent of consumers noted that “cumulative” positive experiences fostered long-term loyalty. And once a bond is forged, consumers are more likely to give a brand another chance before kicking them to the door — and look into shopping with a competitor.

The benefits of brand loyalty

The boon of brand loyalty for retailers comes in the form of feedback. Positive feedback from customers leads to more word-of-mouth recommendation, elevating awareness and building brand reputation. InMoment found that consumers who feel “high levels of trust” are more likely to share “ratings and commentary” about their experiences with a retailer. They’re also more likely to recommend a brand to peers (75 percent) and shop more frequently (60 percent).

By Amy Onorato

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