Retaining and Building Brand Loyalty During COVID-19

Imagine you are standing in the cereal aisle of your local supermarket. It is March of 2020 and you are just starting to get used to wearing a mask and gloves on the daily. On your shopping list of about forty items, you already could not find some of the basic necessities, like toilet paper, and all you want is to be at the checkout. Both of your children love Lucky Charms and eat it for breakfast every morning. Unfortunately, because of the pandemic, the supermarket only got a shipment of Magic Marshmallow cereal. As a parent, your number one priority is to make your children happy. So, you buy two boxes of the off-brand cereal and call it a day. Now imagine that every other parent has the same mentality as you. A McKinsey report found that over 75% of consumers have tried new brands, shopping locations, and methods of purchasing as a result of the pandemic. COVID-19 has led to less product availability, which has directly influenced consumer behavior and caused a decrease in brand loyalty. However, companies that continued to market their products and offer incentives for purchasing thrived during the pandemic and built up customer loyalty. 

Ice cream brand Häagen-Dazs did not pause marketing when the pandemic hit, but rather increased digital marketing tactics to build customer loyalty and gain success. The head of marketing culture and brand experience in Europe and Australia at General Mills, Arjoon Bose, explained that Häagen-Dazs took action and “maintained our investment pressure and ensured we had brand salience going in a meaningful and purposeful way.” For example, Häagen-Dazs partnered with Secret Cinema for the “Secret Sofa” campaign. During the pandemic, Secret Cinema sent out newsletters to inform customers of that week’s online film screening. The recipients of these newsletters were awarded a weekly code from Häagen-Dazs to order the flavor of the week and enter in a digital contest. The campaign became one of Häagen-Dazs most successful digital activations in years, as sales skyrocketed. Furthermore, General Mills has identified Häagen-Dazs’s “super fans” and targeted this audience to increase brand loyalty. 

Like Häagen-Dazs, other companies have found ways to keep customers loyal. For instance, large retailers including Macy’s, Target, Nordstrom, and H&M have expanded their loyalty programs to target more customers. Below are some tips to maintain brand loyalty when the world is far from normal:

Nobody’s Perfect

Mistakes are okay, but they need to be fixed. Not addressing, fixing, and apologizing when something goes wrong causes resentment. Remember: nobody’s perfect, and positive confrontation can both resolve issues and increase loyalty. 

Loyalty Must be Earned

Don’t forget the basics: free-returns, priority pick-ups, seamless customer experience, etc. In an uncertain time, staying true to company values and morals will keep customers loyal. Focus on personalization, transparent communication, and an overall seamless digital experience for customers. 

Execution is Everything

Think about how you can make customers’ lives easier. Employ curbside pickup, keep inventory stocked, and offer practical return options to keep customers coming back. 

We hope that the information above has inspired you to focus on marketing and maintaining brand loyalty during this unprecedented time. If you have any questions or are seeking advice, feel free to reach out:

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