The 3 Components of Emotional Loyalty

06.04.2021 research

One of the strongest drivers of loyalty is emotion. Building an emotional connection with shoppers can lead to the most profitable customer behavior and influence customer spend, loyalty, advocacy, and customer lifetime value.

In fact, research shows that consumers with strong emotional connections to a brand visit their stores 32% more often and spend 46% more money than those without emotional bonds*. So, bear in mind that it is not something that you can pass on. You need the 3 components of emotional loyalty to nurture customer loyalty: brand affinity, attachment, and trust.

1. Affinity

Making your customers love you is the first step towards loyalty. Obviously, customer satisfaction is key here. Providing high-quality products, for one, and excellent customer service are critical to keeping customers happy and loyal. According to them, speed, convenience, knowledgeable help, and friendly relations are essential elements of a positive customer experience.

Customer satisfaction plays and will increasingly keep playing an important role in customer loyalty. It results in more customer spend and leads your shoppers to trust you better. Hence ensuring long-term loyalty and positive word-of-mouth. Remember that a happy customer is the best brand advocate you can hope for, so you must treat them well and make them aware of how you give back to the community. Send your shoppers customized communications to invite them to join your rewards program and make them appealing to trigger positive reactions: surprise, delight, excitement, etc.

See also: The emotional experience of collecting Little Shop minis


2. Attachment

Having shoppers love your brand is good, but it is not enough. To build loyalty, you need to pay attention to your customers in order to create attachment, which is also part of the components of emotional loyalty. Reward your customers on a regular basis with high-perceived benefits, and reward interactions as much as transactions. You want to give your customers enough reasons to keep coming back to your stores.

Even though the world is becoming more digital, customers still shop in stores and their expectations keep increasing. So, do not neglect human relations and customer service. Then, of course, engage across different devices, channels, and touchpoints, too. Your shoppers of today and tomorrow are connected, so interact with them where they are and make it as seamless as possible. The line between digital and physical is disappearing in retail, so be prepared. You need to make it impossible for your shoppers to resist your stores, online and offline.


3. Trust

The last key component of emotional loyalty is trust. Even though collecting, analyzing, and leveraging data is unavoidable for retailers in the future, you still need to show your customers that they can trust you with their personal information. Prioritize customer privacy and security. Don’t drown your community in emails and notifications: balance out your communications. And every time you interact, show them how authentic your brand is. On a regular basis, prove how valuable they are to you and how you give back. Be transparent about ethics, sustainability, and social causes that you engage in. Give your shoppers the best reasons to trust you.


We’ve established what the 3 components of emotional loyalty are.  Now, how can you ensure that your marketing plan meets these 3 components? Know that an emotional bond can be built with your shoppers in various ways, but your main goal should remain to make their shopping experience memorable. So, forget about the transaction itself and try to go further than simple points and stamps.

Identify your shared values and your audience’s needs and interests to build a connection. Offer them one-of-a-kind rewards that will make your shoppers feel special. Surprise them with unexpected incentives to help them feel valued. Their attachment to your brand can only grow from then on. And since the impact of long-term loyalty programs is dwindling, think of other kinds of loyalty activations, especially short-term loyalty campaigns.


Tips to build emotional loyalty through loyalty campaigns

In a nutshell, short-term loyalty programs or campaigns generally last from a few weeks to a couple of months, depending on the type of loyalty campaign. They are targeted promotions that reward customers for engaging and spending a defined amount of money at the store. When repetitive and omnichannel, short-term loyalty campaigns help retailers increase in-store traffic, sales and engagement. They are powerful tools used in customer retention and loyalty strategies.

Read more: Why you need loyalty campaigns in your supermarket strategy

As Wouter Aalberse, Commercial Director at UNGA, explains: “In the age of screen time, people open their smartphones 80 to 120 times a day. The public is getting more individual. Retailers can help bring ‘live’ connections back with some great collectibles and playful campaigns. At the same time, these campaigns will help them to grow footfall and sales. A win-win situation!”

What does it mean for your loyalty strategy?


1. Select one specific audience and customize the campaign and the rewards

Let’s say you want to directly target families with kids— the main reason why grocery retailers turn to UNGA. What do they want? What do they need? Leverage data and insights to understand them.

Parents have busy schedules. They tend to go back to authentic experiences and products to enjoy the simple moments with their children. Help them achieve this! Launch a creative campaign to reward them with fun and educational concepts, encouraging quality family time.


2. Make your campaign attractive with references your customers understand and love

Let’s continue with the example of families as your audience. If you want to make campaigns and rewards appealing to them, you need to understand what will catch their attention and create an “I want it” feeling. What are kids into? Which superheroes, cartoon characters, or digital heroes are they fans of? But don’t forget that their parents are also part of the target group. Are there any characters, movies, or games that parents love as much as kids which are still trending? What do parents want for their kids to play with? Know that entertainment references and licenses are powerful tools to immediately attract your shoppers. Indeed, they can both appeal to the parents’ nostalgia and kids’ interests.


3. Use your campaigns to address values and show that you care

63% of global consumers prefer to purchase products and services from companies that stand up for a purpose. In other words, research well what your shoppers care for. Is it sustainability? Is it a social cause or ethics? Then use your short-term loyalty campaigns as a tool to align with their personal values and address them publicly.

Now, let’s go back to your family audience for a moment. Sustainability matters to families. Parents want what’s best for their children’s future, and children want to help preserve the planet. So, make sustainability the focus of your loyalty campaigns. As a reward, create a playful concept that will educate children on sustainability and communicate to parents how you care about and implement more sustainable options. On the other hand, if research shows that your shoppers care about a social cause, collaborate with an NGO focusing on this cause. Give your campaign a purpose and communicate about it to engage your audience.

Loyalty campaigns are a powerful tactic to foster an emotional connection between families and grocery retailers. They appeal to both kids and parents and help attain the 3 components of emotional loyalty: affinity, attachment and trust. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with us to discuss your loyalty campaigns.

*Gallup – Customer Satisfaction Doesn’t Count

Discover loyalty campaigns that win over families across the globe.

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