Brands must focus on how their values and behaviors are perceived, as well as the quality and applications of their products and services
Aedhmar Hynes, Text100
One of the most important goals for consumer brands is building and maintaining consumer loyalty. As brands expand globally, they encounter people with different cultural and economic backgrounds, and thus different drivers of loyalty from their home market. It’s important to understand and adapt to those differences in order to present the brand successfully in each market and across the globe.
In the U.S., brands build consumer loyalty by how they behave, the stance they take on important public issues, and delivering a consistent customer experience across all channels. In Asia, many consumers are far more motivated by regional pride, thanks to the increased importance and influence of Asia in global affairs. They are more inclined to attach loyalty to a brand perceived as Asian.
In Europe, the idea of “buy European” is less pronounced – in fact, cultural differences between nations can be important across a “united” Europe. A brand that exhibits a wry sense of humor – even in its direct responses to individual consumers – will do well in the U.K., while the same approach wouldn’t resonate in France.
Culture, however, might not be the most important factor when brands consider how to approach diverse markets. Perhaps a more revealing barometer by which to look at them is economics – specifically, considering the phase of economic development of different customer segments in a region or a single country.
Consumers found in emerging economies, or groups just moving into the middle class, in places such as India, China, or parts of Eastern Europe view price and differentiation as primary drivers. These consumers will demand a brand provide good value for money – and are able to use online information to compare value with competitors.
Relationships being the loyalty driver
However, for consumers who have more disposable income and more experience with online purchasing, there is a willingness to trade some personal information in exchange for a premium or to obtain a product that has more prestige. This is the start of a shift from “price” to “relationship” as the loyalty driver.
Finally, consumers who have moved firmly into the middle or upper-middle income brackets often consider the overall brand “purpose” when making their choices. In this case, brands must focus on how their values and behaviors are perceived, as well as the quality and applications of their products and services.
The above being said, these cultural and economic drivers are still an overly broad way to view consumers. The power of technology to connect any consumer with any brand – coupled with the power of social media to allow consumers to connect with each other – means people today share more common traits than ever. As such, the key to loyalty will be building relationships with consumers.
And these relationships must be based on data that allows brands to understand individual, human differences. Those human differences speak to values. That’s why, over the long term, brands that offer consumers a consistent and authentic experience that speaks to their values will best navigate the complexity of global differences.
Aedhmar Hynes is the CEO of Text100.