What Marketers Can Learn From 2020’s Brand Loyalty Leaders

What Marketers Can Learn From 2020’s Brand Loyalty Leaders

What’s in this article:

  • Brand Keys has identified several interesting trends, some of which could only have happened in 2020.
  • Streaming services like Netflix and Amazon drive higher loyalty than social media, smartphones, tablets, and many non-Amazon online retail sites.
  • In a year when hygiene and cleanliness became more crucial than ever, Purell and Clorox both appeared on the Customer Loyalty Leaders list for the first time.

Every year, brand research consultancy Brand Keys releases the Customer Loyalty Leaders List, which compiles the top 100 companies leading the way in consumer loyalty. According to Brand Keys, the list answers three subliminal questions asked by consumers:

  1. Which brands showed up?
  2. Which brands delivered when needed most?
  3. Which brands best met my always-very-high-and-getting-higher expectations?

With the 2020 Loyalty Leaders List release, Brand Keys has identified several interesting trends, some of which could only have happened in 2020. Here are some key takeaways for marketers hoping to boost their own brands’ loyalty and retention.

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Consumers are gravitating towards streaming entertainment

It’s not surprising that online retail juggernaut Amazon once again took the number one spot on the list. Still, there were some changes and additions to the top 20, with streaming services dominating Brand Keys’ loyalty metric. At #2 and #3, respectively, both Netflix and Amazon streaming services (the latter of which is ranked separately from Amazon retail) moved up a few spots from the previous year’s list. Disney’s new streaming service debuted at #7, and Hulu moved from #32 in 2019 to #19 in 2020.

With the coronavirus keeping everyone inside for the majority of 2020, it’s not surprising that consumers are looking for ways to stay entertained at home. However, it’s interesting that streaming services like Netflix and Amazon drive higher loyalty than social media, smartphones, tablets, and many non-Amazon online retail sites. Marketers hoping to reach consumers where they spend the most time should take note of the increasingly loyal relationships between streaming services and viewers.

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Don’t underestimate the power of a good loyalty program

While some of the 2020 loyalty leaders were impacted by shifting consumer needs during a pandemic, others aren’t as easy to decipher. After all, who’s thinking about high-end makeup or sneakers that didn’t see the inside of an office, restaurant, or gym last year? Despite the challenges, some brands managed to retain their customers’ loyalty and improve upon it. What do they have in common? Excellent loyalty programs.

As we’ve noted before, Sephora’s comprehensive Beauty Insider program is one of the best in the business. It’s simple to join, easy to understand, and frequently rewards customers with free samples and gifts. Even in a year when many of us let our makeup brushes go unused for months at a time, Sephora managed to climb nine spots to hit the #33 ranking.

Even higher up is Nike at #12, which also has a comprehensive benefits program. And for those home improvement projects, consumers are significantly more loyal to Home Depot, which moved from #37 to #8 the same year it expanded its loyalty program.

COVID-19 is giving cleaning products a boost

Among 2020’s hottest trends? Hand sanitizer and bleach. In a year when hygiene and cleanliness became more crucial than ever, Purell and Clorox proved to be loyalty leaders in the household cleaning industry, with both appearing on the list for the first time — and in the top 40. At #30 and #39, respectively, Clorox and Purell beat out established brands like Samsung, Zoom, Starbucks, Spotify, and more.

These gains show that you don’t have to have a flashy product or high-tech service to gain customer loyalty; sometimes, it’s enough to fulfill a need and do it well. Likewise, some products don’t need over-the-top marketing campaigns when simple facts will do.

Customer Loyalty Leaders List offers some direction for marketers still reeling from last year’s unprecedented events. Most of us are still trying to figure out what our new normal looks like, but one thing is clear: customers value brands who genuinely care about their needs.

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