Emotional engagement bonds brands with their customers, study finds

Emotional engagement creates powerful bonds between brands and customers

Brands that prove to be more than just a name to consumers and form lasting emotional bonds are the likeliest to have staying power, according to a recent study from Deloitte Digital.

The study found that appealing to a consumer’s emotions based on four key elements – connection, data boundaries, consistency and loyalty – has a direct correlation to a brand’s customer retention rate.

Of the 62% of consumers surveyed who said they felt a relationship with a brand, 76% went on to say that they have used that brand for four years or more because of the trust they have in it.

Trustworthiness proved to be the most important factor in brand favorability as 83% of those surveyed had it as their top qualification. Integrity and honesty were the next two most important qualities, at 79% and 77%, respectively.

The study’s findings suggest that brands can cultivate a trusted relationship by examining its components: Before there are emotions, there are rational considerations, such as recommendations by trusted sources, the quality of the product itself, ease of using said product, and fair prices.

Some consumers also look for shared values; one common theme is environmental consciousness.

These factors help to foster an emotional connection making customers more likely to make a recommendation, as 44% of those surveyed endorse a product based on emotional criteria. And, in these recommendations, 60% of customers tend to use language such as “love,” “happy” or “adore,” typically reserved for family or friends.

“Customers and consumers are longing for human connection with the organizations and people they do business with,” said Timothy Greulich, experience management practice leader at Deloitte. “When pressed on what those connections look like, they described their relationship in the context of a friendship’ more importantly, a two way-relationship, where both parties are responsible and engaged in the health of the friendship/relationship.”

Like a trusted relationship with a friend, consumers are concerned with how companies are keeping their secrets, as well. Even though customers crave a certain level of intimacy with their favorite brands, they still expect to have their privacy respected.

While 75% of consumers who responded to the survey expect a brand to know why they purchased a product and 52% want the brand to be aware of their subsequent satisfaction, 35% do not want their browser history searched. And 59% prefer that a brand does not respond to their social posts, even if the post was positive.

Negative experiences, such as a breach of privacy or an overstep of boundaries, can cause customers to break off relationships with brands. The nearly 70% who say their favorite brand offers “reliable, great customer service” rarely leave at the first mistake; their departure from a company depends mostly on the company’s response to that mistake. In fact, 77% will stay with a brand as long as they are offered what they deem a genuinely empathetic apology.

As demanding as today’s consumers may seem, most do not expect total perfection. What they crave is a human element that signifies that they are being listened to and are valued as a customer, rather than just being another number or statistic.

“The ability to understand what creates, cultivates and ultimately sustains loyal customers beyond the initial marketing interaction is going to be tremendously important,” Greulich said, adding that building “emotionally intelligent platforms to recognize and use emotional data at scale is one of the biggest, most important opportunities, if not imperatives, for organizations going forward.”

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