As times change and consumers expect more from their products, emotional engagement is becoming the dominant driver of purchase decisions and brand loyalty.
A 2013 Customer Loyalty Engagement Index (CLEI), carried out by customer loyalty and engagement consultancy Brand Keys, found that “brand,” “personal identity,” and “character” exerted the strongest influence on consumer decision-making and engagement with brands.
It carries out its research in a number of consumer goods, and in the luxury cosmetics segment it is Clinique that lead the way, followed by Lancome and Chanel.
Estée Lauder and Shiseido complete the luxury cosmetics category; however, Brand Keys found that the shampoo and color cosmetics categories disappeared from its survey as they are decreasing in emotional brand value for consumers.
Robert Passikoff, president of the New York-based firm, explains that in these cases, competitive pricing and promotion do not drive emotional engagement or brand loyalty, therefore they lose value.
“You can’t build your market on constant low-lower-lowest pricing strategies and promotions, and expect your offering to be seen as different or better than the competition – who’s doing precisely the same thing,” he states.
“Many products and services that consumers formerly viewed as ‘brands’ are now regarded as comparable in all key attributes that drive purchase in their categories, making real brands and engagement increasingly rare, but more profitable.”
Passikoff says that consumers in categories such as luxury cosmetics have indicated that their expectations regarding ‘brand’ have again increased, meaning brands are able to better meet consumer expectations act as surrogates for added-value, engendering more loyalty than those based on the primacy of product and a coupon.
“Advertising and promotion does drive consumer behavior, but no matter how entertaining the ad, it’s extraordinarily less powerful than being able to leverage emotional aspects of the brand,” he continues.
“If all you stand for is ‘shampoo,’ you’ve become a ‘placeholder’ product, one whose name people know but don’t know for anything in particular and companies find they have absolutely no (brand) advantage in the marketplace.”
The Brand Keys boss concludes by warning that if marketers don’t have a real handle on the emotional side of the purchase and engagement process, they end up with a ‘placeholder’ brand, and may as well spend budget on promotions and coupons.
For the Brand Keys 2013 survey, 39,000 consumers, 18 to 65 years of age, drawn from the nine US Census Regions, self-selected the categories in which they are consumers, and the brands for which they are customers.