Over the years, we have followed shifting customer values that help to differentiate brands.
As we follow these developing trends we often gain clarity in interesting areas. Clarity in the past couple of years came in a better understanding of certain segments of customer loyalty.
We have watched loyal customers for some time and have a good understanding of their make up. But within these loyal customers, there are some that stand out. These “raving loyalists” go beyond loyalty, they are willing to defend and represent our brand. They are somewhat more engaged than those defined by the NPS methodology as “promoters.” The raving loyalists feel a personal and emotional bond with the brand which causes them to not only recommend but defend and represent the brand. Think of hard core Apple users; it would be an understatement to say “hardcore Apple customers have a strong willingness to recommend.” Their bond to the brand is clearly more emotional than that.
Raving loyalists are not only important because they are loyal and drive additional business, but are also part of the “innovators” and “early adopter” set in the market. It is they, who control access to the mainstream market (see the Law of Diffussion of Innovation – beautifully explained by Simon Sinek here).
In looking at these raving loyalists we find they have the following characteristics:
1. Raving loyalists believe they perceive the company’s purpose or mission (It doesn’t matter if they are right or not. In this case perception is reality.)
2. Based on their consistent experience with a company or brand, a raving loyalist perceives the company or brand to be authentic to its purpose or mission. Simply put, the customer thinks the company walks the talk.
3. The raving loyalist perceives an alignment between the company’s values (the source of the authenticity) and their own personal values.
When they see this alignment of values, the customer feels personally represented by the company or brand. In turn, becoming an agent of the brand that represents him or her. This turns into an emotional bond of reciprocal kinship.
We see these types of relationships between fans and sports teams, within certain ethnic or socio-economic strata, in nationalism and regionalism, religious groups, and more specifically to our discussion, between customers and certain brands such as Harley Davidson, Apple and Corvette among many.
So, the raving loyalist who will promote, defend and represent your brand has only two overriding requirements. They must perceive authenticity in your brand and they must feel the brand is aligned with their own core values.
Here then, are the obvious questions:
1. Do we understand our customer’s values?
2. Is our mission or purpose aligned with them?
3. Are our customer experiences across the company demonstrating consistent authenticity?
If the answer to any of these is no, raving loyalty is not possible and we have lost major ground in the battle for differentiation.
Our deepest quest as marketers and brand strategists must be authenticity.
However, authenticity is not found in an advertisement or in engaging creative production. Authenticity is found in the operations of the company as it relates to a higher overriding purpose. It is found in a company’s policies, processes and delivery mechanisms as experienced by the customer.
Without authenticity we cannot create deep rooted loyalty with our customers.
Committed to XCL