In the past, traditional marketing used to be push-based, and for decades this model was predicated on a lack of information often available to the general public. The advent of real-time digital and social communications has, however, disrupted everything.

The tech-connection

Consumers have now become empowered with a near infinite amount of information and choice, and this has made effective marketing more about creating meaningful experiences and building personal relationships by cultivating emotional connections that lead to loyalty.

This is where customer loyalty is headed and many brands have already made great strides in this direction. But the journey is certainly not over. In truth, it is only just beginning.

As a strategic concept, the overall transformation of customer loyalty has been as rapid as it has been dramatic, and there is no reason to think we have reached the apex of this evolution. The future of customer loyalty is still very much in flux.

Because it is so closely related to human emotions, customer loyalty will never be a static or objective phenomenon. This is true with respect to the strength and duration of loyalty as well as with how it is expressed across new spending habits and evolving customer engagement behaviors.

Set your standard

Therefore, it will always be up to forward-looking trendsetters to drive loyalty by perpetually innovating segmented, personalized and highly relevant experiences that engage each and every customer with a high degree of relevancy and meaning. Brands and marketers must study this ongoing evolution very closely and be ready to respond to changing customer needs and expectations with great agility and speed.

“...most do not have the extra time or attention to devote to brands that make engagement confusing, complex or irrelevant.”

The ability for brands to motivate customers and manufacture demand through generic and blanketed promotional marketing is long gone. Today, customers simply expect more from brands. Expectations are rising, and this “age of the customer” will only become more daunting for brands that do not meet customers on their level.

Time is money

Since most customers are inundated with a flood of messages and products for new and existing media channels, and from every conceivable angle, most do not have the extra time or attention to devote to brands that make engagement confusing, complex or irrelevant.

And even if a customer did possess such a luxury, why would they ever want to spend it in such a fashion?

This is seeing the rise of content marketing as a way to increase engagement. Beyond mere static or traditional advertising methods, great content marketing can tell stories that cross channels and weave touch points together in new and exciting ways. Today, we are seeing more brands relying on such strategies to increase customer loyalty by connecting on deeper emotional levels.

In the near future, this type of engagement will also be seamlessly connected across all channels, and new social and digital communication technologies, such as mobile (and perhaps those yet to be created), will become even more crucial.

Adding value for consumers

Of course, the ability to allow customers to connect and engage how, when and where they please, is already starting to emerge. And as this engagement strategy continues to be perfected, it will not only provide convenience and utility across all touch points, it will also help create communities of customers that value engagement over consumption, product over purchase and enduring relationships over fleeting transactions.

Many brands may not yet be ready to adopt such a customer-centric mindset, but in time the eventuality of this shift may ultimately be inevitable. And we do see some brands that are already breaking free of the old conventions enough to make measurable progress in this direction. As they continue to do so, the focus from customer acquisition to retention will also only continue to accelerate.

This change is already in effect to some degree. But once most brands find themselves on the other side of this bell curve, the customer-centricity metamorphosis will finally be complete. Instead of viewing loyalty as something customers display toward brands, in the future, loyalty will be what brands will display toward customers.