Brand Loyalty One of the most desirable traits that marketers would like to see in the consumers they are positioning their product towards is loyalty to their brand. Brand loyalty can be defined as “the extent of the faithfulness of consumers to a particular brand, expressed through their repeat purchases, irrespective of the marketing pressure generated by the competing brands. (Business Dictionary, 2012) An expression of brand loyalty from consumers can help companies to experience significant growth not only through repeat purchases, but also word-of-mouth: brand-loyal consumers who talk among their peers about their purchasing behaviour may talk positively about the brand they like, which allows these consumers to try these recommended brands – which they might not have tried otherwise – thus expanding a business’ market and increasing its profits.
Since brand loyalty can play a significant role in a business’ performance, it is important that marketers understand the different factors that lead to consumers showing brand loyalty. One of the main contributing factors to brand loyalty is satisfaction. According to Ha, Janda and Park’s (2009), satisfaction can be achieved through a “rich employee-related customer orientation”. In addition, the perceived quality of the product on offer was found to have a positive effect on South Korean consumers’ satisfaction and brand loyalty.
The need for a high level of customer orientation is further discussed and confirmed by Lee, Knight and Kim (2008), who commented that a consumer-oriented approach was crucial in market strategies to appeal to Korean consumers. In addition, the authors gave the example of Wal-Mart’s entry into the Korean market to demonstrate the need for foreign companies to adapt their strategies in order to successfully appeal and cater to Korean consumers. Yoon and Kim (2000) provide two more contributing factors to building brand loyalty among consumers.
Going on the fact that repurchasing is a part of the definition of brand loyalty, the authors suggest that a firm needs to either improve the overall impression that its firm or brand gives its consumers; otherwise, the firm must provide an incentive for repurchasing (e. g. coupons or special offers and discounts) – both of these factors, when implemented together, will provide the best chances of increasing consumers’ loyalty towards the firm or brand.
The authors go on to discuss one of the important findings of their research which shows why consumers choose not to be loyal to a brand and thus switch to another. They argue that firms need to minimise or remove the factors they found that lead to what is described as “negative expectation disconfirmation”, which are listed here: avoid raising consumers’ expectations beyond the level at which the firm can consistently deliver; focus on what the customer wants and expects rather than the firm’s production constraints; respect price sensitivity, as some people feel their loyalty is exploited as prices increase.
If a firm were to implement these changes in order to seek an attitude of customer orientation and improve their corporate image, how would they go about it? One of the ways this is being done nowadays more than ever is through the use of social media. Kabani (2012), CEO of The Marketing Zen Group, posted an article with the following tips for making loyal customers through the creation of social media content: interact; be helpful; make your fans the stars; offer perks; be transparent.
Taking the example of the whiskey brand, Johnnie Walker, it can be seen how these tips work for an established brand to retain customers and make them loyal to the brand. Johnnie Walker, a brand which boasts international success based on a long history of creating quality whiskey blends (John Walker & Sons, 2012), has set up Johnnie Walker Facebook pages for all the major markets it caters to. Looking at the Johnnie Walker Singapore Facebook page, it can be seen that all the tips recommended by Kabani are implemented in some way.
The page administrators create posts every one or two days for people who have “liked” the page to look at, share with friends and comment on. These posts are not just about Johnnie Walker whiskey products, but also sporting events (Johnnie Walker is a sponsor of the McLaren-Mercedes team in the Formula 1) and interesting facts relating to distinguished people or events. Helpful posts, such as exclusive recipes for preparing seasonal cocktails with Johnnie Walker products, are shared on this page.
Johnnie Walker makes its fans the stars through competitions to win a place at the Circuit Lounge, which is the party held during the Singapore Formula 1 Grand Prix, where Johnnie Walker selects people from its list of people who have “liked” the page, to receive guest passes for the exclusive party. The names of the winners are then posted on the page. At other times, content shared by fans will be shared and re-posted by the page administrators. Besides the exclusive party invitations, Johnnie Walker posts sneak previews of new limited edition product releases or information on upcoming events related to the brand.
Finally, whenever fans have questions about products or events and are awaiting responses, the page administrators promptly reply to inform them of the situation (e. g. why a letter has yet to be received). This method of interacting with consumers can be deemed successful for building brand loyalty as so many fans have posted comments about how much they love the brand and enjoy it for the special occasions in their lives (Johnnie Walker Singapore, 2012). Recommendations for Marketing Managers
In relation to brand loyalty, a firm wishing to enter the South Korean market must keep in mind the necessity of creating a brand image that is consistent with how they wish to be perceived, the level of service the firm can deliver consistently, and being truly customer-oriented. When South Korean consumers are satisfied with a product provided through customer-oriented service, then these consumers are more likely to show loyalty towards a brand, leading to repeat purchases, which benefits firms through increased market share and profits.
Establishing brand loyalty among consumers is feasible through the creation of interesting, informative, helpful and customer-oriented social media content. A successful portrayal of the brand’s values through frequent interaction with consumers is essential to getting consumers not only to learn more about the brand, but sharing this knowledge with their peers, which leads to increased and repeated purchases. This also contributes to an increase in a firm’s market share and profits.
The important thing to recognise is that building brand loyalty gives firms a competitive advantage: brand image is something that is unique to each firm, and as such, it can prove to make the difference when a consumer needs to make a purchasing decision between two brands of a similar product. When the brand image of the firm entering the South Korean market shows a strong sense of customer-orientation and consistent delivery of expectations, its chances of succeeding in the market will be higher than those firms who fail to recognise how important customer-orientation is to South Korean consumers.
Bibliography Business Dictionary, 2012. What is brand loyalty? Business Dictionary, published 2012, < http://www. businessdictionary. com/definition/brand-loyalty. html> Ha, H. Y. , Janda, S. , Park, S. K. , 2009. Role of satisfaction in an integrative model of brand loyalty: Evidence from China and South Korea, International Marketing Review, Vol. 26, no. 2, pp. 198-220 John Walker & Sons, 2012. Our Labels. Johnnie Walker, published 2012, Johnnie Walker Singapore, 2012. Johnnie Walker Singapore, Facebook, updated 11 October 2012,
Kabani, S. , 2012. How to build brand loyalty through social media, The Business Journals, published 24 August 2012, Lee, M. Y. , Knight, D. , Kim, Y. K. , 2008. Brand analysis of a US global brand in comparison with domestic brands in Mexico, Korea, and Japan, Journal of Product & Brand Management, Vol. 17, no. 3, pp. 163-174 Yoon, S. J. , Kim, J. H. , 2000. An empirical validation of a loyalty model based on expectation disconfirmation, Journal of Consumer Marketing, Vol. 17, no. 2, pp. 120-136