‘Lovemarks: The future beyond brands' is now a daily reality
A decade after writing his ground-breaking book showing how emotion can inspire businesses and brands to deliver sustainable value, Kevin Roberts goes bang up to date with his views on brand loyalty as it applies to the marketing imperatives of 2015. For a CEO, brand loyalty is the ultimate business deliverer: a flow state that’s hard to achieve and easy to lose, being more alchemy than science. Yet today more than ever, mastering the emotional dimensions of marketing is by far the most important requisite of an enterprising life in business.
Brand loyalty: Physics vs. biology
Worldwide, half a trillion dollars are invested annually in advertising – in media spend alone – to achieve the state of nirvana known as brand loyalty. The original notion of brand loyalty was that repeat buyers are more profitable than acquiring new ones. They return a higher margin, are stronger recommenders, and require fewer special deals and pricing offers than it would cost to acquire new customers. The ‘physics’ of this equation remain unchanged.
In a perfect world, returnees and recommenders are the most valuable customers that any CEO, CFO or CMO could have. They just want more of them. But the ‘biology’ of the situation is that consumers are human beings with imperfect, changeable, and emotionally influenceable behaviour. So even in this complex multi-channel, multi-choice era, winning loyalty remains a very real and important focus. This is simple economic common sense; it always was, and always will be. As emotion is the primary driver of loyalty, marketers will be lost if they don’t get to the nub of how people feel. The goal of brand communication should be to achieve ‘Loyalty Beyond Reason.’
From brands to Lovemarks
By the beginning of this century, continuous quality improvements in manufacturing, distribution, service, price and promotion had led largely to brand parity. Lovemarks mapped out new territory where brands would be eclipsed by rich emotional fields: associations owned not by companies, but by their customers. Such connections, inspired by deeply shared human emotion, would form an attachment that brands could no longer achieve.
The effect of a Lovemark was ‘Loyalty Beyond Reason’ – beyond price, beyond attribute, beyond benefit. Lovemarks go beyond rational factors into the emotional territory of Mystery, Sensuality and Intimacy. Lovemarks recognise that the heart rules the head in decision-making. Moreover, when a deep emotional connection is cultivated, it protects against preference attacks from competitors touting new features, deals and designs. Take a brand away and people will find a replacement. Take a Lovemark away, and people will protest.