Take a moment to think about a few of your favorite brands—the ones you go out of your way to do business with, or the ones you simply admire for a specific attribute or mission.
What sets them apart, and why are you so loyal to them? It probably has a lot to do with the quality of those brands' products, the experience they provide, or the values they represent.
Now, put on your marketing hat and think about brand admiration from a different perspective. Specifically, ask yourself these questions:
- As a consumer, how much more valuable are you to a particular brand than a less passionate customer?
- Do you spend more with that brand and buy from it more often?
- How willing are you to forgive mistakes or embrace new products?
- How frequently do you talk about, share, and promote your favorite brands?
Truthfully, it's easy to make qualitative assumptions about the value of our brand admiration ("of course loyal customers are worth more!"); but, as any good marketer knows, we don't get paid to make qualitative assumptions. We get paid to evaluate and understand the direct business impact of every investment we make.
So, the question we're left to answer is this: Just how valuable is brand admiration, and what impact does it have on your brand's bottom line?
What Research Reveals About the Tangible Value of Brand Admiration
Thankfully, marketing experts have already taken care of the research for us.
In their forthcoming book, Brand Admiration: Building a Business People Love, marketing researchers C. Whan Park, Deborah J. MacInnis, and Andreas B. Eisingerich share decades of research that make a compelling argument for the enduring value of investing in becoming an admired brand.
Specifically, the authors found that brand admiration tends to propagate distinct human behaviors that drive three clear business benefits: unwavering brand loyalty, passionate brand advocacy, and enhanced cost efficiencies and stronger market position.
1. Unwavering Brand Loyalty
When Brand Keys released its 19th annual Customer Loyalty and Engagement Index, it wasn't particularly shocking that the companies with the highest customer loyalty rankings were also some of the world's most admired brands (per Fortune).
According to research from Stanford University on brand admiration, universally beloved brands benefit from...
- Repeat purchase patterns over competing brands
- A willingness by customers to pay a premium (consider Apple)
- An unwillingness to substitute—even if a lower-cost alternative is easily accessible
These benefits are illustrated in a recent Cornell University study on the impact of loyalty in the hotel industry—a market where loyalty is hard to achieve but easy to quantify.
According to the study, when hotel chains were able to enroll frequent customers in loyalty programs, that resulted in a 50% increase in revenue for enrolled vs. unenrolled frequent customers.
2. Passionate Brand Advocacy
Brand admirers aren't just more willing to buy more from their favorite companies, they're also more likely to talk about, share, and promote those brands at a much higher rate than "average" consumers.
At scale, those behaviors make it far easier (and cheaper) for brands to raise awareness, market new products or services, and recruit new brand admirers—and all of those compound brand admiration.
For proof of the connection between brand admiration and customer advocacy, consider the similarities between BCG's 2015 ranking of the most recommended brands and Fortune's 2015 ranking of the most admired brands. In both polls, Volkswagen and Toyota rank in the top three as both admired and recommended automotive brands globally, while USAA—which ranks as the 28th most admired company in the world—achieved the highest marks for advocacy in retail banking and car insurance.
3. Enhanced Cost Efficiencies and Stronger Market Position
When people are more loyal to a brand (and, thus, more likely to advocate on its behalf), the business will naturally spend less to market its products and raise awareness for new offerings, research confirms. It will also have higher employee morale and lower employee turnover, both of which have a powerful and direct impact on a company's bottom line.
To understand the direct impact on your business, consider how much a 20% drop in customer acquisition costs, or how a 20% improvement in employee retention, would affect your business. What would those cost savings and improved cost efficiencies allow you to do that your competitors can't afford to match?
Is Your Brand Capitalizing on the Potential of Brand Admiration?
When you take into account the quantifiable link between brand admiration and business results, it's safe to posit that brand admiration just might be the most desired status of brand health.
When your business is able to build a framework that takes customers well beyond just liking or trusting you—to a point where they unabashedly defend and forgive you—every KPI begins to compound. Instead of incremental market gains, you'll begin seeing exponential improvement in every important area of business—from partner and vendor alliances to customer and talent acquisition.
Want to learn more about becoming an admired brand? Take a deeper dive by reading the brand admiration whitepaper.
Articles in this series:
- Brand Admiration: Why Some Brands Are Loved Unconditionally (and What You Can Learn From Them)
- Brand Admiration and the Power of Love: Build a Brand That People Adore
- Is Your Brand Trusted? Here's What Happens When It Is—and Isn't
- Brand Admiration and the Value of Respect: How to Build a Revered Brand
- Brand Admiration: Three Powerful Bottom-Line Benefits of Being Admired
- The Saving Grace of Brand Admiration: 3 Companies, 3 Mistakes, 3 Different Outcomes
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