When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but creatures of emotion.” – Dale Carnegie

“Don’t mix business with emotions.” It’s a common saying. But is it true? I doubt! 

We, humans, are full of unpredictable emotions & variable logic. Logic or emotions alone can’t address our reactions to situations, as our actions are driven by several other factors. Talking about shopping, for some, it is a leisure activity, and for others, it’s a duty-bound thing. And that’s why the shopping preferences of no two individuals are the same. 

Today, when brands want to bring their first-time shoppers back in the loop of transaction cycles, emotions play a critical role. With increasing competition, customers need more than quality products to keep going with a certain brand. Competitive pricing, rewards, psychological preferences, personalized experiences & the values that brands stand for – are becoming crucial for customers. Neither pure emotions nor hardcore logic. It’s the right balance of emotional & rational approach that can work well for any business. Going further in this blog, you will learn how emotional loyalty supports common types of loyalty & aids in customer retention. 

Prominent Types of Loyalty 

Types of Emotional Loyalty

“How can we earn more loyal customers?” is the question that brands across the globe keep asking. There is no mathematical formula or methodical approach to gaining loyal customers, for sure. From Daniel Katz’s psychological understanding of individuals in the 1960s to Forrester’s best practice report on loyalty in 2021, customers’ approach toward brand loyalty is evolving. With offerings moving from low-value tangible things to high-value intangible things, the coming generation shows greater towards the ‘Experience Economy’. The most common loyalty types observed in the industry are listed below – 

  • Transactional Loyalty: Customers remain loyal to a certain brand they are shopping from for the monetary rewards they are getting instead of long-term associations. Individuals accrue benefits here based on transactional exchanges, and they remain loyal to the brand as long as they don’t find the best deals elsewhere. Let’s consider a customer who shops grocery items for 5000INR/month from DMart and gets 500INR off from the bill in addition to discounted rates of products. If a grocery store in their vicinity offers a flat 50% discount to their first-time shoppers, they may prefer shopping once from there to claim that deal. You can see it’s purely a rational decision, and that’s why it is also known by the names – rational loyalty, functional loyalty, or cognitive loyalty. 
  • Behavioral Loyalty: The tendency to purchase products from the same brand every time rather than seeking for its alternatives comes out of habit. That’s why people refer to behavioral loyalty as habit loyalty. For example, Mia shops for her stationery from a shop in her vicinity. She may get a discount on some of the notebooks & might pay a little more price for the sketch colors. Regardless, she shops from there because it’s in her vicinity & she has been shopping there for a few years. In this scenario, if she relocates, then she will not come back to shop for her stationary items from that shop specifically.
  • Emotional Loyalty: One of the rare yet most intriguing loyalties that brands crave is an emotional one. It is driven by the psychological preferences of customers & their shopping experiences. Though it’s a long and uncertain process, emotionally bonded customers have demonstrated greater conversions. Jargon won’t last long, but stories do, and that’s why businesses across the globe are counting on emotional marketing strategies. A global diamond brand, DeBeers’ experienced that their tagline ‘A diamond is forever’ is losing its true meaning. They’ve tried a unique approach of putting an installation of 25,000 red roses spelling out ‘A diamond is forever’ in the middle of New York’s Grand Central Station. As expected, the time being, roses changed color, dried out & died. DeBeers’ approach not only caught the eyes of lacs of people & gained attention globally but successfully delivered the message to the audience that other gifts are temporary, unlike diamonds.

Why Does Emotional Loyalty Matter? 

How emotions & logics work for human brain

As the word “loyalty” itself is an emotion, brands can rely on emotional loyalty to keep the soul of “loyalty” intact. Emotional bonds are known to bring a deeper level of commitment both for customers and brands. The best outcome of emotional loyalty is brand advocacy. Shoppers not only shop the products from any brand but rather become your product advocates on social handles, forums, and in-person discussions. It’s like getting a salesperson for your brand at no cost.  

There can be many reasons behind emotionally loyal customers, like individual situations (like the one mentioned above), experiences using the products of specific brands, a societal/global cause that the brand supports, and values you stand for & support as a brand. Brands often leverage the power of storytelling to entertain, inspire, educate, energize and deliver the right message to the customers. The research by Capgemini finds that highly emotional people buy their favorite brand 82% of the time when they need a specific item, compared to 38% for less emotional people. Needless to say that emotional loyalty alone can’t bring loyal customers to your store’s door. Transactional rewards, customer behavior & shopping experiences often bring shoppers to the list of regular customers. Gradually, when a brand gains shoppers’ trust, using an emotional approach helps them improve its customer engagement rate. Moreover, it helps in understanding your customers’ behavioral preferences to personalize their shopping experiences.  

How Can Brands Cultivate Emotional Loyalty Among Customers?

Emotions - Driver of trust & loyalty

Creating a holistic customer experience for shoppers is a journey. It’s not a game of a single marketing campaign, a success story, or a viral video that can win you, loyal customers in a single day. It’s a consistent approach with multiple stages in a journey that a customer takes with your brand and becomes a loyal customer (more on this Harvard Business Review report). Here, you will find some promising tactics that brands leverages to uplift their customer engagement rate & boost ROI. 

  • Let data drive your customer’s emotional understanding –

Loyalty won’t happen as a single-shot reaction; it is driven by multiple stages. Using your customers’ data, you can get a better understanding of the times when they felt delighted. Walt Disney took this approach to the next level with their emotional data capture methods. Using facial recognition technology, Disney captured the response of its viewers in terms of the emotions displayed. Further, they analyzed & deployed this data in their coming movies.  

  • Ideate your campaigns around your customers’ interests – 

Another way is to have a deep understanding of current culture and what people are connecting with. For instance, music bands have a mass following, and there is a new band on the blocks every few months that become a sensation. In the middle of 2021, the K-Pop boy band BTS was a rage, and McDonald’s collaborated with the band to come up with BTS meals, and they were an instant success!  

  • Stand for the values you support as a brand –

This approach not only builds connections with your customers but will also humanize your brand. Be true to yourself when counting on those values & see how you can spread the message along those lines. For example, the Tata group is the symbol of trust and longevity in India. Its latest campaign and book – #TataStories with Harish Bhat, plays very well on the values Tata stands for, making it very natural for customers of the Tata Group to connect and reconnect with the brand most of India has always admired. 

Building emotional loyalty is not a quick fix. It takes time, but if you’re in it for the long term, values and ethics are the most important. If you’re true to the values, it reflects in the campaigns; this is the best way to enter and stay in people’s hearts. This is when a customer becomes a family. Want to add an emotional element to your loyalty programs? Reach our emotional loyalty experts & drive engagement to your brand like never before.

Aprajeeta Singh
Writer by profession & an artist by passion. Aprajeeta spends most of her days writing the tales of brands and those of her imagination. In odd hours you find her reading literature & diving deeper into ecommerce sciences. Art fuels her creativity & she adores experimenting with it.