What is Brand Loyalty? (Definition, Types, Examples)

Jul 5, 2022 - By Camilla Mackeviciute

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Statistics by Sellcell show that Apple’s brand loyalty reached an all-time high of 92% in 2021. The brand has such loyal customers that no one or nothing can persuade them to go elsewhere.

The tech company appeals to customers who value creativity, innovation, and minimalism. And it has maintained its brand identity since its origins in the late ’70s. That’s probably why it has such loyal customers.

That said, building brand loyalty is a concept that feels like lightning in a bottle — so hard to achieve. You can’t force it but can only earn it.

This article will dive into brand loyalty and how your business can use it to connect with your target audience.

What Is Brand Loyalty in Marketing?

Brand loyalty is when a consumer chooses to repeatedly buy a product produced by the same company despite competitors’ efforts to entice them. For example, some customers will always buy Pepsi while others will buy Coke every time.

Brand loyalty is often based on perception. Customers will consistently buy the same product since they perceive it as superior to other available products.

For instance, when was the last time you searched for something using a search engine besides Google? For me, I can’t recall.

And it’s not that the user experience or interface is wildly different on other search engines. Google has built this loyalty from online users, making it the number one search engine globally.

Types of Brand Loyalty

Businesses will typically use different marketing strategies to build loyal customers through incentives such as gifts or loyalty programs.

Here are the different levels of brand loyalty:

1. Hard-Core Brand Loyalty

Hard-core brand loyal customers are enthusiastic about a particular brand and only associate with it positively. That means the consumer had an exceptional experience, and they remember the brand fondly.

For example, Apple exhibits hard-core customer loyalty when it releases a new iPhone. 

Since many people associate the brand with high-quality status, loyal customers can easily convince others to buy the new iPhone. 

If you’re fortunate to build brand loyalty like Apple, you should introduce a program to encourage your brand ambassadors to continue spreading the word about your business and appreciate them for their support.

2. Split-Customer Brand Loyalty

Split customers are loyal to more than one brand but limit their options to two or three brands. 

You can quickly turn these consumers into hard-core customers by nudging them a bit. But converting them can be challenging since most of them are aware of other options.

An example of split loyals can include Delta Airlines, United Airlines, and American Airlines. A customer may have the best experiences traveling with Delta Airlines, but they can also have positive experiences with American Airlines and United Airlines. So, the customer will have no problems flying with any of the three airlines.

3. Shifting-Customer Brand Loyalty

Shifting loyal customers have a mix of hard-core and split loyalty. 

Generally, such customers will buy their products from one brand for a certain period before switching their loyalty to another. They’ll then remain loyal to the second brand.

One example of shifting loyal customers can be the case of yogurt. Consumers may prefer to take a specific yogurt brand over an extended period, and they’ll be faithful to that yogurt taste. But after they’ve become used to it, they may attempt other brands.

Brand Loyalty vs. Customer Loyalty

The primary difference between brand loyalty and customer loyalty is pricing. 

Pricing has a significant impact on customer loyalty but not on brand loyalty. Customers loyal to a brand will buy the company’s products regardless of the price.

Customer loyalty is all about what you can offer consumers regarding regular prices and money-saving offers. It relates to having lower prices than competitors or better discounts on specific products to encourage customers to make repeat purchases.

Here’s a summary of the key differences between brand and customer loyalty:


Also read: What Is a Repeat Customer? Definition, Formulas & Rates

Brand Loyalty Examples

Here are three examples of exceptional brand loyalty:

1. Coca-Cola


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Unlike other beverage brands, Coca-Cola has perfected the art of creating memories to increase brand loyalty. People associate the drink with the ‘good old days.’

Even when launching a failed product like the New Coke, their customers are so loyal that they’ll return for more.

2. Starbucks


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A cup of regular Starbucks coffee can cost four times more than coffee from a deli around the corner. But you’ll still see long lines in the Starbucks stores and drive-throughs.

Starbucks uses its rewards program to attract its customer base. As we’ll see later, it has one of the most effective brand loyalty programs where customers order through their phone app to save time, get discounts, and free refills on filter coffee after accumulating ‘stars.’ 

3. Nike


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Nike has one of the most loyal customer bases in the world. This company excels at connecting with athletes who inspire their target audience.

For example, basketball superstar Michael Jordan was so famous that young athletes thought his shoes contributed to his success. As a result, dozens of other celebrities endorse Nike.

Their brand loyalty is based more on image than quality, making it one of the best examples of brand loyalty.

Building Brand Loyalty

You must offer a positive customer experience to create customer trust and build brand loyalty. An Edelman survey reports that 67% of customers say they need to trust the brand behind a service or product. It’s not enough to have a good reputation.

An analysis by 8 Ways Media also shows that it takes less than a second for a customer to form an opinion about your brand after viewing your website. So the way you present your business is crucial in influencing how connected customers feel to your brand.

With that in mind, here are some important strategies to help you build brand loyalty among your customers:

  • Strive to produce high-quality products and stay consistent to prevent customers from returning to brands they know they can trust.
  • Keep in touch with your target customers through social media and consistently inform them about any new developments in your company and future expectations.
  • Establish your business with customers who are brand enthusiasts instead of trying to sell to everyone.
  • Start a loyalty program to reward loyal customers with discounts and ensure excellent customer service for every repetitive purchase they make.

Best Loyalty Programs

Did you know that customer loyalty programs influence 69% of people to choose a specific business?

An effective rewards system is a must-have to ensure your customers stay loyal and increase revenue with repeat purchases.

That said, here are three loyalty programs worth looking at:

1. Starbucks Rewards Loyalty Program


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Starbucks Rewards program is among the best customer loyalty programs in the world.

Customers must use the mobile app to buy coffee and earn points (or stars). As a result, Starbucks collects a gold mine of customer behavior data by having many customers use the app to make purchases.

The data enables the brand to offer more relevant benefits to the customers.

2. Sephora Beauty Insider


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Like Starbucks, Sephora’s Beauty Insider program is one of the most popular loyalty programs, with more than 25 million loyal members.

The program is a traditional point system where clients earn rewards for each purchase. 

Sephora keeps its customers loyal by allowing them to choose how they spend their points and get the deals they want without lowering the perceived value of the products.

3. Barnes & Noble Loyalty Program


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Unlike the other two customer loyalty programs we’ve mentioned, Barnes & Noble’s loyalty program is paid.

Customers who wish to join and become VIP members must pay an annual fee of $25. 

Barnes & Noble’s paid program has the following benefits:

  • Free shipping;
  • Special birthday offers;
  • Early access and discounts;
  • 40% off hardcover bestsellers in store.

Build Your Brand Loyalty With Sender 

There you have it. To create brand loyalty, you must build your brand strategy and objectives to improve customer relationships. As a result, you’ll gain loyal customers and boost revenues. 

If you’re looking for a straightforward omnichannel (email+SMS) marketing automation tool to help you build your brand strategy, Sender’s got you covered. Sign up with a FREE FOREVER plan and experience complete marketing experience with zero financial commitment! 


Also read:

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