Loyalty Is The New Marketing


A recent article in the Harvard Business Review titled “Marketing Is Dead, and Loyalty Killed It” echoes what more and more marketers are realizing every day: many traditional methods of marketing are no longer as effective in motivating and inspiring customers.

Author Alexander Jutkowitz points to Apple’s phenomenal earnings and 87% customer loyalty in the US and Europe, despite the fact that it does very little traditional advertising and marketing comparatively. Jutkowitz isn’t suggesting brands stop marketing overall. Instead, he recommends they de-emphasize traditional promotional thrusts and focus on loyalty.

What is customer loyalty? And how do you gain it? Based on decades of psychological research and the findings of social psychologist and cross-cultural researcher Shalom Schwartz, Zenzi uses a values-based marketing approach that assists in understanding the motivations of target audiences.

Many marketers start and end with demographics, making sweeping generalizations about target audiences, i.e. focusing on “millennial men” for marketing deodorant versus looking at the specific values and audience types within that category. What types of men? What are they most interested in? What do they value most about the products they buy? What aspects of their lifestyle rank highest with them? Which features, benefits and brand promises are most likely to inspire purchase?

Our President and COO Julie Lyons recently spoke at the AMA Art of Marketing conference in San Diego about the need to know more about the psychology of target audiences to motivate audiences and inspire loyalty. Where traditional demographics stop at basics like gender, age, income, and other general information, Values Marketing goes deeper to hone in on the subconscious motivators of target audiences. By uncovering people’s inner values, Values Marketing enables us to develop marketing strategies and initiatives that are more aligned, personal and inspiring.

Consider your own buying habits. What’s the difference between buying a product or service because it’s necessary or because it fulfills a deeper inner need? Now think about those brands and products that you always buy, have loyalty toward and go out of your way to endorse?

Take my husband, for example. He has been an Olay loyalist since long before they had a men’s care line, and still remembers when I tried to buy him a generic version 20 years ago. While I am sure he likes the SPF and silky glide of the products on his face, I am willing to bet it’s the tradition-based connection he makes with his mother because that she used Olay and always knew everything about skin care. My husband values tradition and ties to family above other motivators, which drives his loyalty to a brand he perceives as traditional and secure.

One of my friends is a devoted Coach bag collector. She loves fashion and has, what many would consider, expensive taste. She puts a priority on investing in quality pieces. She associates the Coach brand with quality, style and status and has been collecting them religiously for more than 15 years. Her choice of handbag is not driven by function, price or convenience. Rather, the Coach brand represents achievement and status, something that is intrinsic to her personal values.

A number of factors go into our buying choices, and while most of us are not typically aware of the subliminal psychological aspects of them all, somewhere along the way we also form connections with a specific brand. Our values play a role in the brands we favor most, i.e. Coca-Cola, Mercedes, Staples, Walt Disney World. They are not just selling soda, cars, office supplies or rides in a theme park; the smartest brands dig deeper to market an experience and a lifestyle that is congruent with the values of their target customers.

Why are target customers’ values so important for marketers to understand and how do they lay the strategy for leading brands? Consider the following from our data scientist Ravi Iyer:

Marketing today is not the same as it was even a few years ago, and it is not going to be the same a few years from now. The advent of the Internet and social media, combined with shifts toward a more open, transparent society have forever changed the way marketers reach, engage, and motivate their audiences. Though the principles and techniques of marketing are evolving on a seemingly daily basis, there is one constant in the lives of people that remains immune to shifting technology and means of communication – their values. Core values that people live by are guiding principles that influence all of their behaviors and thoughts – what they do, what they say, how they think, who they talk to, how they communicate, what they see, what they eat, what they wear, how they behave in different situations, how they consume and, most importantly to marketers, what they buy.

For a business to stay relevant in this fast-transitioning age of marketing, they need to establish a values-based connection – a connection between the business and its customers based on open, genuine, authentic communication that serves the mutual needs of both parties.

It’s important to ask the following questions: What motivates your consumers? What do they truly care about? How can you connect with them better?

The answers to all of these questions lie in their values and knowing them can unlock a whole new world to connect on a much deeper level. How would knowing your customers’ values impact your web content, social media posts, or promotional content? Would it change the strategy and tactics comprising your advertising and public relations strategy? For our free Z-Book on values marketing, please see below.

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