As we touched upon in our previous blog on building a trusted brand, developing a unique story and then telling that story across all communications mediums are critical first steps to brand loyalty. But what can you do to take your marketing and branding efforts to the next level? A brand loyalty program is one way, but not in the traditional sense. In fact, our cannabis survey of over of 8,000+ consumers revealed that typical loyalty/rewards programs (read: points for purchases) rarely influence a new cannabis consumer’s decision-making process. A nascent market like cannabis is the reason why. Emerging markets still need to convince the general public of the viability of their product or services. And that's where brand loyalty come in. Brand loyalty is the secret sauce to winning the cannabis market share war in the long haul.
Brand Loyalty Defined
Brand loyalty is one of those concepts that you know is important, but you often don’t know why. Even the most experienced marketers have a difficult time defining it. Let me attempt to do so here.
According to Wikipedia, “brand loyalty is defined as positive feelings towards a brand and dedication to purchase the same product or service repeatedly now and in the future from the same brand, regardless of a competitor's actions or changes in the environment.”
Think Coke vs. Pepsi or the PC vs. the Mac or Burger King vs. McDonalds. It's a preference so strong that consumers rarely deviate from their brand of choice. It's that “thing” that companies vie for, and the “thing” that creates unstoppable brands.
No single cannabis company has yet to win the brand loyalty war. In fact, based on our research, we know that price, product selection, staff friendliness, location, and ailment-specific products are the current top selection drivers. These factors, of course, are important to winning sales in the short-term and should be considered when devising an overall marketing strategy. But if you want to also “win the war, not just the fight,” you need to have a bigger strategy in mind.
Building Brand Loyalty for the Long Haul
To build brand loyalty, you must continually evoke an emotional response. The current top selection drivers such as price or product selection typically do not elicit the type of reaction conducive to building brand loyalty. However, something like a healthy lifestyle does. Because 60% of cannabis users consider a healthy lifestyle to be a priority, we tell our clients to consider educational content that showcases cannabis as part of a healthy lifestyle. At first glance, a story devoid of a specific product or price promotion may seem to fall short of creating immediate sales, but if long-term brand loyalty is a goal (as it should be), branded content is a must.
This doesn't mean that short-term sales should be ignored. For example, branded content, along with display advertising promotions that highlight current sales (e.g. ads on the USA TODAY NETWORK) is one way to meet both the short-term and long-term goals of an emerging brand, in an emerging market.
At LOCALiQ, marketing experts and advanced technology give our cannabis clients the tools and strategies they need to carve out a unique position in the market and truly connect with their intended audience. To find out more or to get more details on the USA TODAY NETWORK | LOCALiQ cannabis study, email one of our experts, Claire Will, at email@example.com.