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Brand loyalty is where a person buys products from the same manufacturer repeatedly rather than from other suppliers.
In a survey of nearly 200 senior marketing managers, 68 percent responded that they found the "loyalty" metric very useful.
Brand loyalty, in marketing, consists of a consumer's commitment to repurchase or otherwise continue using the brand and can be demonstrated by repeated buying of a product or service, or other positive behaviors such as word of mouth advocacy.
Brand loyalty is more than simple repurchasing. Customers may repurchase a brand due to situational constraints (such as vendor lock-in), a lack of viable alternatives, or out of convenience. Such loyalty is referred to as "spurious loyalty". True brand loyalty exists when customers have a high relative attitude toward the brand which is then exhibited through repurchase behavior. This type of loyalty can be a great asset to the firm: customers are willing to pay higher prices, they may cost less to serve, and can bring new customers to the firm. For example, if Joe has brand loyalty to Company A he will purchase Company A's products even if Company B's are cheaper and/or of a higher quality.
From the point of view of many marketers, loyalty to the brand — in terms of consumer usage — is a key factor.
Most important of all, in this context, is usually the 'rate' of usage, to which the Pareto 80-20 Rule applies. Kotler's 'heavy users' are likely to be disproportionately important to the brand (typically, 20 percent of users accounting for 80 percent of usage — and of suppliers' profit). As a result, suppliers often segment their customers into 'heavy', 'medium' and 'light' users; as far as they can, they target 'heavy users'.
A second dimension, however, is whether the customer is committed to the brand. Philip Kotler, again, defines four patterns of behaviour:
Hard-core Loyals - who buy the brand all the time.
Split Loyals - loyal to two or three brands.
Shifting Loyals - moving from one brand to another.
Switchers - with no loyalty (possibly 'deal-prone', constantly looking for bargains or 'vanity prone', looking for something different).
Factors influencing brand loyalty
It has been suggested that loyalty includes some degree of pre-dispositional commitment toward a brand. Brand loyalty is viewed as multidimensional construct. It is determined by several distinct psychological processes and it entails multivariate measurements. Customers' perceived value, brand trust, customers' satisfaction, repeat purchase behavior, and commitment are found to be the key influencing factors of brand loyalty. Commitment and repeated purchase behavior are considered as necessary conditions for brand loyalty followed by perceived value, satisfaction, and brand trust. Fred Reichheld, One of the most influential writers on brand loyalty, claimed that enhancing customer loyalty could have dramatic effects on profitability. Among the benefits from brand loyalty — specifically, longer tenure or staying as a customer for longer — was said to be lower sensitivity to price. This claim had not been empirically tested until recently. Recent research found evidence that longer-term customers were indeed less sensitive to price increases. However, the claims of Reichheld have been empirically tested by Tim Keiningham and not found to hold. Byron Sharp showed empirically that behaviour affects attitudinal response not the other way round. Longer term customers are less sensitive because it is harder for them to completely stop using the brand.
In industrial markets, organizations regard the 'heavy users' as 'major accounts' to be handled by senior sales personnel and even managers; whereas the 'light users' may be handled by the general salesforce or by a dealer.
Andrew Ehrenberg, then of the London Business School said that consumers buy 'portfolios of brands'. They switch regularly between brands, often because they simply want a change. Thus, 'brand penetration' or 'brand share' reflects only a statistical chance that the majority of customers will buy that brand next time as part of a portfolio of brands they favour. It does not guarantee that they will stay loyal.
Influencing the statistical probabilities facing a consumer choosing from a portfolio of preferred brands, which is required in this context, is a very different role for a brand manager; compared with the — much simpler — one traditionally described of recruiting and holding dedicated customers. The concept also emphasises the need for managing continuity.
One of the most prominent features of many markets is their overall stability — or marketing inertia. Thus, in their essential characteristics they change very slowly, often over decades — sometimes centuries — rather than over months.
This stability has two very important implications. The first is that those who are clear brand leaders are especially well placed in relation to their competitors and should want to further the inertia which lies behind that stable position. This, however, still demands a continuing pattern of minor changes to keep up with the marginal changes in consumer taste (which may be minor to the theorist but will still be crucial in terms of those consumers' purchasing patterns as markets do not favour the over-complacent). These minor investments are a small price to pay for the long term profits which brand leaders usually enjoy.
The second, and more important, is that someone who wishes to overturn this stability and change the market (or significantly change one's position in it), massive investments must be expected to be made in order to succeed. Even though stability is the natural state of markets, sudden changes can still occur, and the environment must be constantly scanned for signs of these.