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What is the main differences between companies who have loyal customers and those don’t? Answer: the experience customers have with the brand.
There is little difference between passionate sports fans and loyal brand shoppers. Brand loyalty allows customers to showcase their own unique tastes and individuality.
Take the example of sportswear company Lululemon, which now has over 200 stores and sales leaping from $40 million to $1.37 billion in only eight years. In the United States alone, sales grew 40 percent in 2012. Shopping at a Lululemon store provides a unique experience unlike most retail clothing stores. First, the staff members become brand ambassadors for the company by being outfitted in the latest seasonal designs. Second, the stores offer community workshops such as in-store yoga, self-defense and even goal-setting classes. Third, the company encourages all shoppers to post on their social media networks such as Facebook and Instagram, which becomes free viral advertising for the company.
The whole sales cycle can be broken down into three stages. By seeing all the employees in the latest workout gear, shoppers are able to see how the clothes fit and move in real life. This makes the transition to buying easier. Having workshops that centralize on the buyers allow shoppers to feel engaged and empowered, while also evangelizing the brand and bringing people to the store. By encouraging shoppers to share their experience on social media, it becomes the beginning of a grassroots campaign. It also helps those who are not ready to commit to the buying process. By posting a picture of a product on Instagram, the buyer can get instant feedback on what their friends and followers think about the product. This can encourage the buyer to make the purchasing move once they feel they have received ample approval from their friends online.
So how does this relate with your particular business?
Assuming you’ve tried ads, paid search and steep discounts to battle with the competition and yet customers are still not knocking on your door, it may be time to provide a more comprehensive experience for potential customers. If you are a product based business, focus on what kinds of services you can offer – like Lululemon, whose workshops become a service they offer to customers. Instead of just selling an item like other major retailers do, they encourage shoppers to come back with an entirely different purpose and service offering.
For example, if you own an ice cream shop, host a workshop on how customers can make their own (without giving away your secret recipes of course). A great example we have seen recently is an automotive repair shop that hosted workshops on how customers can change their own oil.
Encourage your customers to spread the love. Leverage the use of technology with social media sharing. Not only is this great advertising, it’s a way to make customers feel like they are doing a favor for their followers by referring a good business. Above all, it is the experiences customers have that will keep them returning for years and years.
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