How to build loyalty: The secret sauce

August 10, 2023 | By Rupkatha B

The easiest part of the job is to probably launch a brand, but then to build that brand is probably the most difficult part, observed Maria Gedeon, Founder and CEO, Gedeon Mohr & Partners during a session at the THINK! I CAN! conference.

What is your favourite brand that has earned your loyalty, she asked the panelists as a thought starter.

“For a retailer to pick one brand among many that I’ve handled is difficult. But I’ll still answer that question,” said Anuradha Dhawan, Executive Vice President – Retail, Al Ghurair Retail. “My current favourites are the two brands that I handle now, and that’s not only because they are part of my portfolio. They are my favourite because they are close to my personal sense of purpose. They are Springfield, a Spanish contemporary fashion brand centered around sustainability. The other brand is The Face Shop, which is a Korean natural beauty brand. Yet another brand that I really like and was associated with for a decade is Charles & Keith. That brand story is compelling – how they came in as a challenger in the market and then became market leader in their category by staying on top of trends, close to customers and by remaining authentic to what they represent. Charles & Keith has brought accessible luxury to the common customer, and that I think really set them apart.”

Sharing his perspective, Rahul Kadavakolu, Group Chief Marketing Officer, Aster DM Healthcare said, “I’ve started to fall in love with the concept of creating an ecosystem. At Aster we’ve an entire ecosystem, starting from hospitals to clinics to pharmacies. And we also have Medcare which talks to a slightly different audience segment. So, the concept of moving away from transactions to building value has become a centre forward for me because that’s a completely different shift in the way we start to like brands and use them on a day-to-day basis.”

“I really like Apple. Along with ease of use, it brings for me a little bit of higher positioning,” shared Gonçalo Traquina, Partner, Management Consulting – Financial Services Leader, Head of the Customer Advisory, KPMG Lower Gulf.

“My favourite will have to be Nike because of the way it reinvents itself through marketing, positioning and purpose,” said Abdulla Al-Dabbagh, Retail Vertical Lead, Snap Inc.

Moving over to the million-dollar question, Gedeon asked, what will drive customer loyalty and the future of retail.

Traquina voted for omnichannel shopping experience, personalised interactions and sustainable & ethical practices as well as the use of automation and robotics.

“The world is changing rapidly, so businesses really need to evolve and adapt to newer technologies and new consumer cohorts such as Gen Z who are changing the narrative of how we design our business models. It’s important for businesses to start thinking of creating immersive spaces rather than retail stores or an online platform,” Dhawan observed.

At this point, Gedeon directed a question to Al-Dabbagh: How can brands leverage technology such as AR capabilities that Snapchat specialises in?

“Taking Saudi Arabia as a market where Snapchat has over 22 million unique users. If we were to count every single human being in Saudi Arabia aged between 13 and 34, 90% of them are on Snapchat today. They are engaging on the platform. Our Snapchat population opens the platform over 50 times a day and over 90% of our users use AR. It’s not just another buzzword, it’s what truly puts the consumer, the target audience at the centre of that experience. They eventually become brand ambassadors, influencing their social circle to engage with the AR experience, and that’s the power of Snapchat. Plus, AR has a direct impact on sustainability too,” he explained.

“We keep using three words – brand, experience and loyalty. It’s very important to make sure that all three are connected and not working in silos because at the end of the day, loyalty is the end result of what the brand encompasses and the experience it offers,” Kadavakolu stated.

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