Retail Brand Loyalty is Changing and Success is Still Possible

Marketing tactics are pronounced dead on a daily basis, print has more lives than a cat. The latest addition to the “it’s dead” category is brand loyalty. Retailers and marketers alike are pronouncing brand loyalty dead.

Why? Because a lot of brands are seeing a drop off in repeat customer purchases and changing consumer spending habits.

In reality, brand loyalty isn’t dead. There are however two camps forming in the world of retail. Brands that are loved and brands that are hated. You can imagine which one has the best brand loyalty metrics. There is no room in the middle, middle of the road brands are treated with indifference and their once loyal customers abandon them for a competitor with better customer experience.

The threats to retail keep growing

Toys R Us, BHS and Mothercare are just some of the big names lost in the past decade. Moreover, with almost 10,000 retail jobs lost in the first three weeks of 2020 alone retailers are looking more vulnerable than ever.

So why are retailers failing?

Whilst it’s impossible to pin down the collapse of so many retailers and factors like business rates and increasing labour costs may contribute, the common theme amongst them all is a lack of agility and ability to adapt. A perfect storm is happening right now in retail and eCommerce and the list of threats is growing.

  • Consumers call the shots in 2020. Brands need to move away from being brand centric to become more customer-focused. They must immerse themselves in their audience, learn about their wants, needs, and aspirations and make time for real customer interaction. Spending time to develop meaningful connections with customers is key to standing out in the increasingly competitive retail landscape.
  • Issues around sustainability are becoming increasingly important to more customers. Consumers are demanding more companies on the impact they have on the environment. Implementing changes to improve environmental impact may also put pressure on profit margins but brands that don’t take sustainability seriously will see their customer base shrink as consumers vote with their feet.
  • Consumer tastes and preferences change almost instantly meaning manufacture on demand and dropshipping pose real threats to fashion and product manufacturers who don’t have a strong brand presence.

It looks like a tricky road ahead for retail and eCommerce marketing but it’s not all doom and gloom, whilst some brands are closing others are thriving.

tips-from-reward-agency-about-retail-brand-loyalty

Yet other brands are thriving

Brand loyalty is alive and kicking in retail. “Sticky” brands focus on delivering superior customer experience, they build a connected and engaged audience of fans who live for the brand. The likes of GymShark, Patagonia, and Lush are all examples of using customer experience and brand marketing to create a “sticky” brand.

By aligning themselves to a social cause, creating a movement or launching an impressive marketing strategy – they all have one thing in common. They know their audience and they play to their strengths.

Patagonia is an expert in brand storytelling. Gymshark is using in-person events and influencers and Lush has created a consistent, memorable in-store experience. From their website to their social media profiles and retail experience you know what you’re going to get. Your expectations are set and they’re met and often exceeded.

These forward-thinking brands have crafted a niche within their industry and they’re owning it. Others in their industry look on in awe and dream of the levels of brand loyalty these guys have, but it’s within your grasp too. Retail and eCommerce doesn’t have to be hard.

By getting specific about who your audience is, crafting a message and purpose that connects and amplifying that message far and wide, other retailers can start to build brand loyalty beyond transactional consumer relationships.

Connected experiences: The key to brand loyalty

Brand loyalty is built through the consistent delivery of a brand promise and experience. By joining up your customer experience across touchpoints you’re able to connect and build relationships with your customers beyond a purchase. You become a part of consumer culture, the ultimate goal of any retail brand.

Brands need to adapt their strategies to provide what their audience wants and needs, which means having a seamless customer experience both online and offline like GymShark and Lush. Omnichannel, limited edition products and pop up retail experiences are all factors forward-thinking retailers need to master to thrive.

Powerful stories and connected brands

Beyond seamless customer experience, retailers and eCommerce stores need to win and keep the attention of consumers. The easiest way to do that? Build an emotional connection with the consumer. Storytelling across digital channels like social media and a website, from social imagery to brand promises and partnerships can all help to build a picture of the kind of brand you are.

Whilst the number of threats to retailers are ever-increasing, the opportunity to stand out is there for the taking. In a world of poor retail experiences and middle of the road brands, your time to stand out and be noticed is now.

Commit to becoming a customer-focused, agile and adaptive brand to thrive in 2020.


Reward is the sustainable branding and marketing agency for forward-thinking brands. Our previous campaigns have helped a sustainable packaging manufacturer generate an additional £6.5m in revenue and increased average order values by 30% for a fitness wear eCommerce retailer.

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