When it comes to making decisions about what to buy, consumers often rely on their favourite brands. 

Brand preference is a powerful tool that drives consumer behaviour and influences what products people choose to purchase. 

In this blog post, we will discuss the different factors that influence brand preference and how it affects consumer behaviour. We will also look at some of the challenges brands face when trying to build customer loyalty.

What is Brand Preference?

The strength of a brand in the market is reflected by brand preference

This indicator signals whether consumers prefer one particular brand to other brands from the same category. 

Let’s put some things into perspective: when you think about ketchup, which brand comes to mind? 

Hopefully, you said Heinz

Brand preference represents a wanting to use a particular company’s goods or services, even when there are comparable alternatives. 

In other words, they’ve tested the competition and tried a few products from different brands and made a choice that this brand is the best. 

Perhaps more importantly, brand preference almost always implies a desire to get our hands on a certain product or service, even if it means spending more money or putting in extra effort to get it. 

In this way, understanding brand preferences is crucial to companies, since it represents consumers’ loyalty, the success of their marketing efforts, and the strength of their brands.

What Influences Brand Preference?

Let’s stick with Heinz for a moment. 

People are fiercely loyal to their products, refusing to consume any other brand. Even the thought of tasting ketchup other than Heinz will ruin a perfect meal for some! 

Heinz Company is both a marketer and manufacturer of branded foods in the global food industry. Ketchup aside, the brand is recognised for its huge range of other condiments, baby foods, tinned goods and much more. 

But what exactly influences brand preference?

One of the aims every company aspires to achieve is to develop brand preference, which is an important element of brand marketing. 

And brand marketing is a multi-layered approach that aims to establish long-term relationships and emotional bonds with consumers, which ultimately results in higher revenues. The factors therefore which contribute significantly to building brand preference covers brand:

  • Awareness
  • Advocacy 
  • Loyalty
  • Engagement
  • Identity
  • Image
  • Equity

I know this seems like a lot, but building brand preference is a long term game. 

Sticking with Heinz, it’s a brand with a strong personality and a healthy range of iconic assets, such as its logo, colour palette and typeface – these fall under brand identity. 

Also, remember when Heinz and Weetabix came together?  

The picture of beans on Weetabix opened a national conversation, gained an impressive 2 billion impressions (uplifting brand engagement) and boosted brand equity points by six points. 

Fair enough they are “the big boys”, but the point is, a company that successfully considers each of these factors above when developing a brand marketing strategy, gives consumers all the more reason to choose their brand. 

The Power of Branding on Consumer Behaviour

Branding is essential to ensure that your goods are seen in the light they deserve. 

Without effective branding, goods may be overshadowed by their competitors since customers may be unaware of them or choose more well-known alternatives. 

The definition of branding includes everything about a company’s image, including the product’s packaging, advertising claims, consumer touch points, and marketing communications. 

It is critical for businesses to develop a brand since customers, whether they realise it or not, link a brand with the product itself. 

Like brand loyalty, brand preference will take time to develop, and whilst there are no quick fire bullets to build it quickly, there are a few things you can do to help. 

Firstly, you need to actually listen to your customers. If you’re telling people what you think they want, rather than listening to what they actually need, then you’ll just be fighting a losing battle. You need to work with your consumers and create a set of offerings that actually serves their needs. 

To do this, you need to find out what their challenges are and what pain points they’re struggling with, where other products or services may have fallen short. So, you must always stay on top of the game when it comes to market research. 

Moving on, a brand is much more than just a logo or a nice website. It’s all about building an emotional connection with consumers and continuously engaging with them, be it in-person or online.  

You can interact with clients through direct selling, customer support, and the sharing of content on your various brand social media platforms. 

Regardless of how you communicate, though, you want conversations to be a two-way street. 

Don’t make use of engagement as an excuse to talk “at” your consumers. Instead, seek means to communicate with them. Make inquiries, respond to comments, and look for other chances to share thoughts, ideas, or impressions. 

In line with this, part of strong branding is consistency; consumers want the comfort and familiarity of a brand they know, love and trust, so you cannot afford to remain static. 

At the same time, your brand should change with your customers’ demands and expectations. This doesn’t imply that you need to make large modifications every day, but it does imply making minor adjustments to better reflect what your consumers want and are looking for. 

Gather information and make the necessary adjustments requested by your audience. Look for new products or services to satisfy fresh demands that your clients may have. Maintain your brand’s relevance by updating it to stay current and modern — all of these are ways to keep your brand pushing forward. 

As your brand aligns more with your customer’s needs and preferences, they will begin to choose it over the competition. But keep in mind that it won’t happen overnight. You’re in this for the long run, so maintain a strategy of developing brand preference as a long-term goal, and you’ll establish devoted consumers who prefer your business over your competition. 

The Customer Loyalty Challenge: Why do Brands Struggle With Building Brand Loyalty?

We’ve never seen so many ads before. Consumers are being bombarded with material attempting to attract and hold their interest. 

This isn’t slowing down in the least. If businesses don’t get involved, they’ll inevitably lose business. 

Loyalty is built by providing consistent value, interaction, and attention. However, there appears to be a gap between what companies think it takes to develop loyalty and what actions truly earn customers. 

Most of the time, companies believe you create loyalty based on:

  1. Quality
  2. Making the customer “feel” important
  3. Consumers believing in the brand’s values and what it stands for
  4. Offering value for money

In reality, consumers are most loyal to brands who offer: 

  1. Value for money
  2. Quality
  3. Convenient buying process
  4. Overall consistent, personal experience

It’s all too easy to get caught up in the company’s narrative and passion. 

Yes, making people feel valued as individuals and connecting via shared values is, without a doubt, a wonderful approach to start things off. However, it’s the convenience and consistency that keep customers coming back. 

Customer loyalty becomes a problem because it’s difficult for brands to consistently, effectively personalise the customer experience. Because customisation was previously thought of as an unscalable concept, this has frequently been an issue. 

Understanding buyer behaviour and obtaining ongoing client feedback often feels like out of the question due to the amount of work involved. But with the evolution of technological solutions in data management, the secret to customer retention is using unstructured data to allow personalisation on a mass, automated scale.  

Today, companies need to organise this data into a Single Customer View: a collection of highly detailed data profiles for each individual customer, updated in real time. 

With this amount of customer data now available, you can track a whole range of aspects of customer behaviour.

In turn, this allows you to make better decisions and create stronger campaigns – giving companies the power to connect with customers like never before.

Overcoming the Customer Loyalty Challenge

Today, easy access to user-friendly technology has made personalization easier than ever; there’s never been a better opportunity to overcome the customer loyalty challenge.

Retention is one of the most critical performance indicators in your company. The three most crucial phases for businesses to track are:

  1. Engagement and retention of new visitors
  2. Conversions from visitors to buyers
  3. Retention of buyers into repeat customers

Retention should never be considered an afterthought: it’s often in a company’s interest to keep track of their client retention on a weekly basis. By doing so, they can set themselves up for continual improvement. 

If your company is big or growing fast, you’ll need the appropriate technology to reach your client retention goals.  

Most large businesses require software to manage the time-consuming aspect of loyalty creation (e.g. gathering accurate, complete data and using it in effective marketing campaigns).