John Vance weighs in on customer loyalty disruption
Brands are raising the bar on customer loyalty with authentic experiences, data-driven strategies, and more.
Customers are the lifeblood of business, but winning customers is only half the battle. Keeping customers engaged and retaining their business is just as critical. However, offering a loyalty program is not enough. Consumers have a plethora of loyalty programs to choose from. The average American household holds memberships in 29 loyalty programs but is active in just 12 of them, according to research firm Colloquy.

Merchants must give people a reason to remain loyal to their brands—or risk losing the customers they worked hard to gain. Delivering an authentic brand experience, understanding and meeting your customers' needs, as well as making it easy for customers to interact with your brand are some of the critical factors for building customer loyalty, say industry experts. Here are examples of brands that are taking these lessons to heart. 

Companies don't just sell products or services anymore. Product features and services are quickly duplicated by competitors—often at lower prices—making it difficult for brands to compete on this level alone.

The most successful brands differentiate themselves through authentic experiences, observes Ray Wang, principal analyst and founder of Constellation Research. "We're moving from selling products to selling brand experiences," Wang says. But companies must do more than tell a simple brand story. "Every touchpoint must reflect the authenticity of the brand's promise," he adds. As an example, Wang points to Disney, a company that has perfected the branded experience. Visitors know that they can expect a family friendly experience that is reflected by the company's highly trained employees and branded merchandise.

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