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Use technology to reinforce customer loyalty: Industry leaders

By Subhro Prakash Ghosh | Vjmedia Works | August 12, 2014

Effective use of social media and mobility can go a long way toward influencing consumer preferences, say experts

There are five kinds of customers - loyal customers, discount customers, impulse customers, need-based customers, and wandering customers. Whatever the kind, consumers in India are increasingly awash with choice around which products to purchase and from where. Many firms are still struggling to identify and target their top consumers. Both retailers and FMCG firms can cut through the clutter to create a loyal, engaged base of consumers if they are willing to spend more on their products and bring on board new consumers - thereby helping drive profitability in revenues with smarter marketing spend.  

Speaking about "creating consumer stickiness and advocacy” at Massmerize 2014, Bijou Kurien, Member, Strategic Advisory Board, L Capital Asia & Chairman, FICCI Retail Committee, said: "With ecommerce today driving the loyalty of customers, it becomes difficult to find out where to buy today. We are cutting each other's throat by deciding on the pricing. So I think loyalty needs to be understood - is it for my brand or is it for my store”. He felt that it can clearly be seen today that the decision making process has actually stopped at television and newspaper stage. According to him, consumer loyalty is getting translated to retail and the drivers of decision making are things like quality and brand awareness.

According to Adarsh Gupta, Executive Director, Liberty Shoes, "As far as loyalty is concerned, over a period of time a lot of changes have taken place because awareness of the consumer is increasing day by day. There's more information available nowadays about products and features. The expectations have changed and today if you are able to bring in those expectations in your products, I think loyalty still exists”.

Other panellists for this discussion felt that customer expectations are changing at a fast pace. Most of them were of the opinion that it is of utmost important to monitor this. They felt that customer loyalty is all about touching their hearts because giving the service and the standard is there but if a brand is able to invoke the heart, there's nothing like it as loyalty is all about connecting with the customers.

 "There are categories wherein loyalty is possible and have been created. It's not so difficult to get customer loyalty,” opined Utsav Seth, MD & CEO, Pavers England. He felt, "Loyalty is all about giving the service and customer satisfaction. Wherever you go, customers need to be served. Products are just the same everywhere. It's the service and the smile and the touch and the local connect that the brand is able to build with the customer; that will bring them back to the same store. It's all about connecting with your customer. That's the key”.

Social media has not only created the awareness of brands but also engages the consumers. All the penal members strongly believed that social media has been a very crucial medium. It's the global way of finding a connect with the consumers. Mobility is also extremely important as more and more purchases are being done using smart phones.

So, it is time a brand creates and designs a product and creates a demand for it. Industry needs to play these roles together in order to ensure that they are able to capitalise on the consumer loyalty that this country offers.
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