Many of today’s loyalty programs try to buy consumer loyalty with discount and voucher that appeal to rationality. The results are unimpressive—50% of consumers leave their transactional loyalty program accounts inactive and hundreds of millions in discounts go unclaimed.

So, if the rational approach isn’t working, what does? To uncover the true drivers of loyalty, we undertook a worldwide, cross-sector research program. We explored loyalty from an emotional perspective, surveying 9,000+ consumers, 500+ executives, and leading academics to discover the drivers brands can harness to build a loyal customer base.

The result? Our research shows that emotions play a far greater role in creating true brand loyalty than current approaches recognise. Building meaningful, deep-rooted loyalty means thinking less about points and rewards and more about driving emotional engagement. The leaders in this field create loyalty through propositions that are more holistic and rooted in experiences. They engage consumers both rationally and emotionally.

Key findings from the research:

  • Consumers’ emotions play a critical role in determining which brands they are loyal to.
  • Executives and consumers have very different perceptions of how well brands make emotional connections.
  • While emotions have the strongest correlation to loyalty, rational benefits do play an important part. Consumers with high emotional engagement also pay attention to rational factors, and brand values are still important to them.
  • We identified a large subset of consumers with high emotional engagement, and how they differ from consumers with low emotional engagement.
  • Emotionally engaged consumers spend more on brands they are loyal to; they have a high propensity for brand recall and purchase; they promote brands they are loyal to; and they enjoy giving back.
  • Emotionally engaged consumers expect more from the brands they are loyal to: two-way interaction; real-time and varied interaction opportunities; and differentiated shopping experiences.
  • By understanding who emotionally engaged consumers are—and what they need—brands can better tailor their experiences and reap the benefits.
  • Every interaction with an emotionally engaged consumer is an opportunity to deepen the relationship and provide more value for the consumer and the brand.

But how can organisations make better emotional connections with consumers? Download our report Loyalty Deciphered—How Emotions Drive Genuine Engagement and our Loyalty Deciphered Infographic to find out how leading brands form strong emotional bonds with consumers.

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