On a recent trip to South America, a friend went to a mall to buy a pair of Bluetooth headphones. He asked to see the boxes of two brands that he liked. But when he compared the features, he was shocked. Not only were the exact same features listed, but the box design was so similar that it was likely they were the same product with a different name.
They were probably knock-offs, albeit high-quality ones.
He returned the boxes. He wanted to buy a specific brand, even if it meant going to another store and spending more money.
His brand loyalty is the dream of every business owner, and seasoned marketing professionals create entire campaigns designed to foster these types of commitments.
Brand loyalty happens when customers come to trust the products and services of a certain business over others. This trust can be based on a wide variety of factors, from high quality standards to associations with particularly beloved celebrities, but the result is the same.
Customers with this kind of loyalty are willing to purchase specific brands throughout time, regardless of the marketing campaigns of the competition. They choose a brand name over "the best deal."
What's more, brand loyalty can become a source of pride and even identity for some. There's a level of attachment that happens in the strongest form of this behavior. People with strong brand loyalty will even encourage their friends and family to buy the same products within the brand. They're consumers and advocates of the specific brand for life.
10 Excellent Examples of Brand Loyalty
Apple is at the top of every brand loyalty list, and for good reason. A recent SellCell.com survey discovered that more than 90% of iPhone users were planning on buying another iPhone when the time comes for an upgrade.
While Samsung also has healthy brand loyalty, it's Apple products that are associated with a certain quality and creative professionals identified with the sleek styling and user-friendly interface.
You're certainly more likely to find someone with an Apple logo sticker on their bumper than an Android logo. Apple uses its position as a market leader to gain loyalty, even if it means people must stand outside stores in long lines for hours for the newest product release.
While Nike's famous swoosh and "Just Do It" tagline makes it one of the most known brands in the world, it also has one of the most loyal customer bases. Brand recognition is important, but this company is a winner for connecting with the athletes their target audience admires.
Just look at basketball superstar Michael Jordan. At the height of his career, he was so popular that young athletes believed his shoes were part of his success. That translates today into dozens of other celebrities endorsing Nike.
The brand loyalty here is based less on quality and more on image, making it work as one of the great brand loyalty examples.
Not everyone agrees with their values, but that's what Chick-Fil-A has built its brand loyalty upon. Instead of simply marketing their chicken sandwiches, this company instead pushes their work within local communities.
From being closed on Sundays in honor of certain religious traditions to providing giveaways to charities, the brand strives to share what's important to their customers.
On top of that, their cow mascots, who misspell "eat more chicken," underscore the family nature of the company. Even subconsciously, they make parents more likely to stop by with hungry kids in tow.
Does Coca-Cola really taste that much different from a Pepsi? To many, those are fighting words. Yet, the same basic Coca-Cola carbonated beverage can taste different, and even contain different ingredients, throughout the world. That doesn't stop their loyal customers.
Unlike other beverage brands, Coca-Cola has mastered the art of nostalgia as a means to increase brand loyalty. From the classic logo design to the simple longevity of production, people connect the drink with the "good old days."
Even when they introduce failed products like New Coke, their customers are so loyal that they'll come back for more.
Although a cup of regular filter coffee at Starbucks can cost four times more than coffee from a gas station or deli around the corner, there are still lines of people in the stores and the drive-through.
While the brand's simple, urban styling helps, it's the My Starbucks Rewards program that really attracts their customer base. It's one of the best brand loyalty programs going.
This program lets customers order through the app on their phone to save time, get free refills on filter coffee, and receive discounts after accumulating "stars." There are even "double-star days," which is double the motivation to stay loyal.
6. Amazon Prime
If having nearly everything you want to buy in one place online wasn't enough, Amazon has created hundreds of thousands of committed customers through its Amazon Prime program.
For $13 a month, people can get free shipping—even same-day in some cities. Prime members get special discounts and endless entertainment that make it a no-brainer for some to log on for purchases. Plus, these loyal customers appreciate perks like the unlimited photo storage and ad-free songs that come with membership.
To stay relevant, Amazon is also expanding vertically by purchasing the upscale grocer Whole Foods. Prime members can get their groceries delivered in two hours. That's the type of service that will make people so loyal they'll even brag about it.
There's a lot of competition in the beauty industry, with customers being able to buy products almost anywhere. Sephora has created a following not by focusing on one particular brand, but by branding themselves as a place to go for any beauty brand. This is highly valuable one-stop shopping for customers looking to experiment with a new product or beauty brand.
But if that's not enough, this chain of stores allows customers to create accounts for easy online purchasing, offers an app for on-the-go browsing, and has tons of deals that keeps them top-of-mind.
Figuring students can wear literally anything that stretches to a yoga class, there's something impressive about Lululemon.
This brand, which sells athletic clothing, has become a trendy place to buy yoga leggings—which aren't particularly inexpensive. How have they done it? The brand is using its stores and website to serve as a hub for people who cared about their health.
They hold free yoga classes, organize festivals, and enlist more than 1,400 ambassadors around the globe to talk up the brand. As a result, customers look to the brand as a source of inspiration, education, and, importantly, the place to buy their gear.
9. Ben & Jerry's
Freezers in corner shops and grocery stores are usually packed with dozens of different kinds of ice cream. Ben & Jerry's has a tried-and-true marketing campaign that gets people picking up their pints in a few ways.
First, they distinguish themselves with unique flavors and ingredients, like cannoli bits or pretzel bites.
Second, they play off the fun of a sweet dessert with silly names, like Chunky Monkey and Cherry Garcia.
Third, and most importantly, they position themselves as a values-based alternative. They share a philosophy that cares for the animals that make the creams and eggs they use, just like you would expect from a small New England mom-and-pop shop.
10. Dunkin' Donuts
Years ago, Dunkin' Donuts was little more than a diner on the corner where you could buy something sweet and a cup of coffee. Times have changed. Now with franchises throughout the globe, customers recognize Dunkin' for its consistency, familiarity, and fast service.
The company makes it easy to order with a mobile app, and people stay high on sugar and caffeine with their DD Perks membership. People seem to love saying yes to the question, "Do you Dunkin'?"
Tricks for Improved Brand Loyalty
There are a few characteristics each of these brands have that make customers love them. It's important that your products or services follow suit.
First, there are no surprises. People know what Coca-Cola is going to taste like every time they open a bottle. If the drink were unreliable and sometimes flat, people wouldn't be as loyal. They consider the drink to have the same high quality, every time.
For some of these brands, nostalgia plays a role. If customers used to stop with their parents for ice cream at Ben & Jerry's, they'll be more likely to choose that brand over others at the grocery store.
Values are also important. If a customer cares about sustainability, they'll continually support a brand that makes their products with people or the planet in mind.
And finally, many of these brands offer loyalty programs.
By offering discounts or free items through accumulated points, brand leaders are naturally encouraging their customers to return again and again. With time, the brand will be so familiar that the rewards program won't even be a conscious motivator.
The keys are consistency, quality, and smart marketing techniques.
Creating loyal customers is a sure-fire way to cement your brand into its position as an industry leader for years to come. The more you understand and practice the techniques that build brand loyalty, the more you’ll see the same faces coming back—and spreading the word about your product—again and again.
This article was written by Compose.ly writer Suzanne Wentley.