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Customer Behaviour

Customer brand loyalty has survived the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which imposed a severe stress test on brands, according to the 25th annual Brand Keys 2021 Customer Loyalty Engagement Index® (CLEI). The national survey, conducted by the New York-based brand engagement and customer loyalty research consultancy (brandkeys.com), found that while the pandemic claimed many business and brand fatalities, customer loyalty was not among them.

“The new CLEI survey found 2020 marketplace rigors created two loyalty challenges for brands,” noted Robert Passikoff, Brand Keys founder and president. “First, how to enhance brand-to-consumer emotional engagement and, second, how to leverage brand values to best meet customers’ expectations.” This year, to graphically illustrate brand loyalty rankings, Brand Keys created a series of emotional engagement/expectation quadrant maps to delineate brand loyalty positions in the marketplace based on the two stress-test dynamics.

Loyalty Positions On Loyalty Map

The 2021 CLEI examined 94 categories and 855 brands. Brands representative of each of the quadrant values included:

QUADRANT STRESS-TEST LOYALTY VALUES BRANDS
        #1

Upper Right

High emotional engagement

High level of meeting expectations

Apple, Dunkin’, Amazon, Fox News, Avis, Clorox, Google, Hyundai, Amex, Konica-Minolta, Samsung, Discover, Delta,

Guinness, Major League Baseball

        #2

Lower Right

Low emotional engagement

High level of meeting expectations

Campbell’s, Macy’s, Toyota, Burger King, Microsoft, Facetime, Home Depot, Apple Pay, and Poland Spring
#3

Upper Left

Hight emotional engagement

Low level of meeting expectations

HP, Old Navy, Papa John’s, Taco Bell, Mastercard, GEICO, Old Navy, Taco Bell, CBS, Allstate, Mr. Clean, CNN
#4

Lower Left

Low emotional engagement

Low level of meeting expectations

Revlon, Bing, Wells Fargo, Motel 6, Mazda, Victoria’s Secret, Pizza Hut, Budweiser, National Hockey League, USPS, Subway, J. Crew, Victoria’s Secret, Chrysler

Each quadrant on the map represents a combination of values related to predictive loyalty drivers: Emotional Engagement and Meeting Customer Expectations. “Ideally,” said Passikoff, “You want consumers to feel your brand engenders high emotional engagement and meets their expectations as completely as possible. Brands able to do that are six times more likely to create loyal customers, and loyal customers are six times more likely to give a brand the benefit of the doubt in tough circumstances.”

Customer Desire and Brand Delivery

“Emotional engagement, the result of effective marketing communications that increases a brand’s equity, results in customers behaving more positively toward the brand,” noted Passikoff. “Consumer expectations, a key dimension of customers’ brand belief-systems, are unconstrained customer desires. Expectations increase on average 22 percent a year, yet brands typically manage to achieve only a seven percent increase – a big gap between customer desires and brand promises to deliver.

“Desperate times calls for desperate choices due to lack of product availability, and purchase of ‘new’ or ‘alternative’ brands represents basic need, not a lack of customer loyalty. During pandemics consumers will compromise, but they still continue to demand that their expectations be met,” noted Passikoff. “But lack of product availability does not denote a decline of brand loyalty. Yes, being in-stock matters as regards sales, but loyal customers are more likely to stick with their favourite brands through difficult times and, in a more stable marketplace, will wait for them or will actively seek them out.”

“What’s incontrovertible is that the Brand Keys 2021 Customer Loyalty Engagement Index confirms brands that best meet consumers’ expectations, and are capable of sustaining emotionally engaging relationships, always see enhanced loyalty – and the market share and profits that come with it,” added Passikoff.

A complete list of the CLEI’s 94 categories, and the brands exhibiting the highest loyalty focus via emotionally-engaged customers and an ability to best meet customer expectations can be found at https://brandkeys.com/customer-loyalty-engagement-index/

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