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Creating Customer Relationships That Last

Creating Customer Relationships That Last

Strategies for delivering value long after the purchase itself and creating ongoing revenue streams

In today’s market, consumers seek more from the products they buy and the brands they support. What's more, research shows that 88% of consumers would rather shop at retailers offering a premium loyalty program that they belong to instead of a competitor simply offering lower prices. These elevated expectations and interest around post-purchase experience and loyalty represent a huge opportunity for companies to attract new audiences and deepen their relationships with existing customers.

PSFK explored how companies are building sustained customer relationships in a recent research paper. The findings highlight ways to generate value by creating an ecosystem of services and experiences that support product ownership and offer customers more ways to get involved. Here, we share a selection of trending strategies that top brands and retailers are leveraging to deliver meaningful post-purchase experiences and encourage ongoing engagement.

Lifestyle Pairings — To extend the emotional connection of a product purchase, brands and retailers are developing complementary content, accessories, and activities that pair with items from their collections to maximize brand reach and influence. In a perhaps unexpected partnership, auto brand Lincoln is offering its customers a one-year subscription to the meditation and mindfulness app Calm through its own Lincoln Way app experience. This integration enables Lincoln to remain part of its customers’ lifestyles and daily routines long after a new vehicle purchase.

Community Support Outside of products, brands can connect with customers around broader lifestyle needs and goals. To build these relationships, brands are launching virtual communities to help consumers navigate lifestyle changes associated with their purchase. These support programs offer education, motivation, and confidence to move forward. During Covid-19, baby brand WaterWipes created its own online platform called the Early Days Club to give new parents a place to connect and receive support from featured experts and influencer video sessions, ultimately aiming to make what can be a challenging experience even in the best of times less overwhelming.

Second Life Sustainability — Brands and retailers are investing in the development of new marketplaces and services that directly repurpose consumer products. These platforms work to eliminate the need for single-use through resale, repair and recycling initiatives while building an ongoing, circular relationship. Levi's created its first buyback and resale program, called SecondHand, which lets customers return their worn denim apparel like jeans or jackets in exchange for a gift card. Levi's then professionally cleans and sorts the clothing, finally listing the wares for purchase on the resale site to not only help keep jeans out of landfills, but also encourage consumers to discover apparel they otherwise might not ever see.

Extended Loyalty — As a way to keep customers involved between purchases and encourage them to develop a deeper level of engagement, retailers and brands are updating their loyalty programs to offer rewards for value-added activities that extend beyond a single transaction. From registering products and attending events to sharing on social media and referring friends, these programs provide customers with a greater sense of connection and control while building a personalized relationship with each shopper. Adidas, for instance, launched a mobile app experience called CONFIRMED, which functions as a virtual community and brand hub granting members access to exclusive product drops and content. The experience focuses on enhanced storytelling with creators behind the Adidas brand, including interviews, listicles, first access to new videos and more to keep consumers immersed and engaged.

Collaborative Design — People feel a sense of ownership over their favorite brands and want to contribute to their lasting success. As a way to continue the relationship post-purchase and improve the value of R&D initiatives, brands are inviting trusted members and loyal fans to share their expertise and feedback on existing products and help dream up new products for launch. These initiatives encourage ongoing participation while sharing meaningful benefits for taking part. Reebok is doing so with its First Pitch platform for product proposals, which solicits input from consumers regarding new shoe designs over a period of 72 hours to 30 days. During that time, consumers can put money (starting at $1) toward the shoe until it hits retail price, and if 500 people put money toward it, Reebok makes it.

Owner Ambassadors — Brands are turning existing owners into advocates, incentivizing them for serving as personal entry points into the brand and its offerings. By providing unbiased accounts of their own experiences and allowing prospective customers to interact with products in real-world settings, these superfans create a level of trust and authenticity at the outset of the consideration phase. Outdoor furniture brand Outer effectively invites its customers to act as hosts for its wares, turning their backyards into Neighborhood Showrooms where prospective buyers can view products in real-home settings and compensating hosts for their participation with monetary payment, discounts and early access.

This was just a selection of the trending strategies leading brands are leveraging to continue to serve and engage consumers long after a purchase—for the full research paper, learn more here.  

Lead image: Illustration by Icons 8 from Icons8