WITH DR FARAI CHIGORA
At the intersection of brand management and entrepreneurship lies the value of brand loyalty. If done correctly, a brand can easily mutate into an equivalent of a religion as the customers identify with it across the value chain and their lifestyles. This is what the brand managers and leaders at companies like Apple and Nike understood well. There was a time, especially when the Apple founder Steve Jobs was alive when customers will sleep in the queues waiting to be the first to buy their new iPhone, iPad, iPod, or iMac. The brands technically exceeded the levels of textbook loyalty into more of a religion. This should be the ultimate dream for our local entrepreneurs, to go beyond the loyalty levels. When such a reality altering experience happens, the cost of managing the brand and supporting the products and services become low as the ‘convicted’ customers and ‘religious followers’ assume the brand ambassadorial roles in promoting the brand through word of mouth and online. Suffice to note that the cost of servicing a loyal customer is less than that of reaching to new customers. This is the value that ought to be unlocked through building brand loyalty.
Brand loyalty matters. It is a reminder to our home grown enterprises that the real battle begins here. When we explore and discover loyalty of our customers in our brand selling (whether positive or negative). As noted in our last instalment, this can only happen when we invest in knowing ourselves and promising that we can consistently deliver to the customers. Numbers will always talk as the adage goes, “figures don’t lie”. From our market share percentage, sales revenues and bottom-line they have a voice here. It is ideal to remember that loyalty from a customer perspective is achievable and summable as the correspondents of customer’s own values and our own brand values. How far are we in knowing this needed balance as we enterprise for industrialisation? Food for thought as this is the only best matrix to position and plan for our profitable identity gained from a recognition now and maintained forever.
The tastes and preferences of our markets are changing daily by a blink of an eye. It is always a new dawn in the business world where brands talk and compete to provide an ecosystem of experience surrounding the customer and building that much need reliance on the brand. As the world of arts asserts “to remain young forever”. Hence the brand should talk and address this to prompt loyalty. That is to be relevant in satisfaction as we move and align with change in the world of entrepreneurship and industrialisation. In this dimension it is imperative to maintain a status quo where our brands and their offerings should be compatible with the current lifestyle of our customers and partners.
As postulated in the previous editions we have to know our customers and project almost what equates with their perceptions. For brand loyalty it matters too. As an entrepreneur you should be able to customise (both offerings and the brand) according to the current specifications and needs of their lifestyle. We go for road shows and advertise in various platforms on a daily basis. Which is good as a promotional stance towards marketing our products in various segments. But what is the main objective behind? Especially with brand loyalty escalation, a few of our SMEs will fit themselves in this perspective (all done in the name of tradition rather that novelty through innovation).
Just like in any set-up from household to a national level, our customers want to be enticed and reminded of our brand from an epic to a whisper that is personal than public (customisation and personalisation). Through telling them a story that connects with the memories of the brand (remember Willards Peanut Butter “Go Nuts”, Nhapitapi Chete with Sun Jam and Geisha that “lasts like a Mother’s Love”). All these bring our customers closer and loyal to our brands. The journey will then be endless into future generations such that our brands will be shared in family trees as legendary that have made a change of a lifetime. Brand loyalty is an outcome of us investing in what makes our customers feel loved and remember by our brand, it is reciprocal. Even in its nostalgia it prompts loyalty that goes beyond generations. It is high time we should engage this in our practise for industrialisation (no matter which sectors of operation). The drive here is to create a sense of togetherness in the mind of the customer to become partners who will fight for market victory for both satisfaction and profitability. Let us do it. Loyalty is involving, respects attention, accepting corrections and be effective in communication. Failure to adhere to these makes it cumbersome if not destructive and our enterprises should be geared for such an organised installation otherwise the ship will sink through a simplified overt. It is therefore imperative to consider;
Customer relationship marketing
This is the most crucial node in the formation of brand loyalty that can last into generations. It a matter of bringing our customers on board and be part of us rather than a source of current revenues. It is about creating relationships that can be converted into a lifetime asset. Our enterprises are long overdue in creating talking customer databases for a start. A database that knows its customers not only by birth but taste and preference. We should go beyond golfing into sharing dreams. This makes us able to talk what is expected of us rather than imposing. Creating a mutual relationship that keeps going in the same direction thus improving loyalty to the brand and its prosperity.
Brand story telling
Our brand should talk a story. Each brand has its story to tell in the mind of the customer. It is our duty as entrepreneurs to extract that good story, one that our markets are happy to share with us and others in the market even venturing into newer markets. A lasting song that will make them want to dance and even dine with our brand and its offerings. Many of our enterprises are yet to conform to this. Little known is the magnitude of turnaround that these stories will have in improving brand loyalty and market expansion.
- Dr Farai Chigora is a businessman and academic. He is the Head of Business Science at the Africa University’s College of Business, Peace, Leadership and Governance. His Doctoral Research focused on Business Administration (Destination Marketing and Branding Major, Ukzn, SA). He is into agribusiness and consults for many companies in Zimbabwe and Africa. He writes in his personal capacity and can be contacted for feedback and business at email@example.com, WhatsApp mobile: +263772886871.