The power of brands goes far beyond their product, and touches upon the feelings it transpires. Brands are well aware of this, and tackle their consumers’ reactions to maximise engagement. For example, a simple swoosh on running shoes will make the amateur runner feel like an athlete. Or the branded perfume will help the aspiring young professional feel like a million bucks. The brand becomes much more than a symbol, and much more than just another thing. But what is it exactly that makes a consumer choose a brand over another, and what keeps her/him coming?
With brands struggling to maintain their relevance, the price at stake is high - about 1 trillion dollars high to be exact. Successful brands work dynamically to make sure their product, advertisement, and service reflects the continuous changes of the customers’ landscape and mindset. They match their customers’ values and desires to their product placement and experience. In this line of thinking, the emergence of sustainable product lines ensures that the rising eco-conscious millennial can make a purchase without compromising on the values they believe in. Advertisements today are more akin to inspirational speakers than marketing material, pushing the customer to push the limits and aspire to be “the best”. In the age of e-commerce, retailers are enhancing the store experience to reflect the ease of shopping online with the added value of creating memorable moments. These moments are then shared, and act as the best kind of advertising a brand could wish for - after all, 92% of consumers prefer recommendations from family and friends above all other ads.
These are all great practices from brands, which truly are effective in driving engagement, and have transformed the relationship between the customer and the brand. They are incredibly successful in getting the customer through the door, but they do not help them to stay. In fact, the current state of rewarding brand loyalty is stale and does not reflect the drive and innovation that is present in all other areas of the brand experience. The relationship between customer and brand has evolved, and its purpose is not only fulfilling needs, but rather targeting dreams, values, and aspirations - promising a better future. This focus on the customer’s future is what we think is the key to brand engagement, and, ultimately, brand loyalty.
To retain customers for the future, rewards programs have to evolve from betting on instant gratification through discounts and cashback programs. That is the only way a consumer will see a long-term value in the purchase and consequently will seek a long-term relationship with the brand. After all, Millennials pursue trustworthy relationships in their lives - even with the brands they purchase. This new type of forward-thinking loyalty can be empowering for both brands and consumers, as they actively see their futures intertwined, creating value that lasts.
BITS is leading the rewards program evolution, where consumers and brands share much more than values, needs, and experiences - they can now share stocks. They can then actively engage not just in their present, but also for their future. This new currency of fractional shares is set to shape tomorrow’s brand loyalty - and the way Millennials feel about investing. How? By creating an app that allows users to earn fractional shares of stock with every purchase.