Why market research is the key to brand loyalty

Your business is customer-focused, right? Everything you do is for the customer. So, why are you struggling to get them to remain loyal to your brand?

The answer is simple.

If you want customers to come back, you have to give them a great experience at every level, every time.

Let’s say that again. Say it out loud if you want to.

If you want customers to come back, you have to give them a great experience at every level, every time.

Nicholas Stone - Founder and CEO

Nicholas Stone - Founder and CEO

It’s a no-brainer, isn’t it? However, while many companies have got the ‘initial experience’ under control, many fail to deliver the ‘every level, every time’ part. From a customer’s point of view, there is often at least one aspect of the business that undermines the positives gained in other areas. The problem is that many organisations don’t know where the problem lies. Sometimes, they don’t even know there is one.

To prevent this, it is vital to regularly review every customer contact point to ensure it aligns fully with your value proposition. This process does not have to be formal as long as you view everything objectively.

Understanding brand experience

Nick Stone understands the value of creating a unique customer experience. When living and working in New York, he made two observations that led to the creation of his business Bluestone Lane.

  1. New Yorkers drink lots of coffee.

  2. Most buy their coffee from a large retail chain that serves average quality coffee with average quality service by Australian standards.

As a Melbournian, Nick was used to getting great coffee from lovely cafes in little bluestone arcades near his work. There, the staff knew him by name and they made everything from the type of cups used to the range of coffees on offer part of the tangible experience of being there. And, even though there were many cafes, each had an x-factor that set them apart from the others and they capitalised on it.

When Nick discovered that this sophisticated coffee culture didn’t really exist in New York, he brought Melbourne’s bluestone lane experience to his new home. Since opening its first location in July 2013, Bluestone Lane has become the fastest-growing premium coffee and café brand, with 27 stores open now across 6 US cities and a flagship coffee roastery and production facility.

In his podcast interview on The Mentor List, Nick shared his habit of objectively reviewing the brand’s value proposition every day, asking questions like:

  • Why would a local come to us?

  • How do we remain relevant?

  • How do we keep our value proposition compelling?

Now it’s your turn to assess your business against the market. Look at every customer touchpoint in your business and evaluate it through 2 filters. Does it align with your value proposition and does it give your customers a great experience they’d want to tell others about?

There is also a third, equally important, filter. Does it give your customers what they want?

How do you know what your customers really want?

“The misalignment between what customer wants and what a business thinks they want is huge. Our research shows most companies only have about 48 per cent of alignment with their customers … The good companies are at 80 per cent. And what makes a 20 per cent difference is usually something surprising, and that’s where the money is. This is what disrupts.”

(From the CMO interview with Joe Urbany, professor of marketing at the University of Notre Dame, How disruptive customer insights drive financial value).

There is only one way to find out what your customers really want and that is to ask them. You need to make market research a regular priority and to include as many of your target customers as you can.

However, don’t just ask customers, “What do you want?” as they probably couldn’t articulate it easily. Instead, ask more detailed questions such as:

  • How your product helps them?

  • Why they would deal with your competitors?

  • How can your business improve?

  • If they were designing your product, what would it look like?

  • Was there a point in their contact with your organisation when they felt their needs were not being met? What happened?

  • Would they use your products or services again? Why or why not?

This may sound like you are creating a whole lot of extra work for yourself and your staff, but it is through digging this deep into your customer’s real experiences that you will learn if you are upholding your promises and earning their loyalty.

Are you willing to act on feedback?

It’s one thing to conduct great market research. It’s another to act on the feedback you receive, especially if the feedback is not what you’d expected. It might be difficult to accept that you are not hitting the mark and easy to continue following your original direction. However, that’s not going to help you create brand loyalty, is it?

Instead, you need to be brave and be willing to take some risks. It might take a bit of trial and error to find your own x-factor and align it with your customer’s needs, but, when you find that sweet spot, everyone wins.

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Prior to launching his Bluestone Lane brand, Nick Stone spent 10 years as a corporate finance director with ANZ Banking Group Limited and UBS Investment Bank, advising and financing some of the world’s largest multinational corporations in the United States, Europe and in the Asia Pacific. Before that, he was a professional Australian Rules Football (AFL) player for 6 seasons, having played for the Collingwood, Hawthorn and the St Kilda Football Clubs.

If you would like to hear more of Nick’s personal story and his insights into building a successful brand with loyal customers, take the time to listen to his podcast interview on The Mentor List today. Better still, sit back with a great cup of coffee and enjoy!

Kick start your personal journey to success from the conversations David has with his inspirational guests on The Mentor List. www.mentorlist.com.au

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