Are you showing that you care?Today’s mobile-enabled shoppers can constantly evaluate their purchasing decisions, but if they sense that your brand is in their corner, they’ll trust you more than your rivals—and they’ll keep coming back. “People want to feel valued, and they make shopping decisions based on how companies make them feel,” says Denise Lee Yohn, retail and brand consultant. “Showing that you care about customers as people, not just buyers of your products is becoming more important as many transactions have become automated, and the personal, human element of interactions between customers and brands has been eliminated.”To demonstrate that caring, retailers and other consumer companies need to become like living businesses, fulfilling the role of a concierge or butler, or even of a friend, according to Accenture. In fact, research by Accenture shows that U.S. companies are losing about $1 trillion a year by not maintaining symbiotic ties with their customers and staying “relevant” to their lives.
Care for an apple?
To understand the value of caring, think of Kroger, a major grocery chain that has Amazon-owned Whole Foods and a host of regional rivals breathing down its back. Many Kroger outlets now give out free pieces of fresh fruit to children as their parent shops. Like a trusted friend, the store is trying to help Mom and Dad tempt the youngsters with a healthy treat, thus building a bond with both generations. The desire for retailers that care is especially prevalent among young adults. Millennial consumers want experiences as well as products, and demand is rising for cooking classes, health-and-wellness sessions, and makeup tutorials, according to McKinsey and Co. Add to that, timely advice about credit cards and data safety. With record-breaking student loan numbers, it’s no surprise that millennials are also motivated to boost their financial knowledge and improve their credit scores.
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Take a small step beyond your core business
There’s a myriad of ways that your retail brand can win consumers’ trust by showing them how much you care about their lives. Here are a few examples
- Walmart offers free health tests, with pharmacists, optometrists, and employees giving shoppers free screenings for vision and blood pressure, as well as glucose readings for diabetes prevention.
- Nordstrom is trying a more far-reaching approach. It is launching a concept store, Nordstrom Local, which provides manicures and has a bar that sells coffee and alcohol. Shoppers can pick up their online orders at the outlet, but there are no products that people can actually buy in-store.
- Dealers for Tesla electric cars have set up interactive displays and on-site demonstrations to teach people about electric vehicles.
- Speaking of cars, BMW now links its customers to a broad ecosystem of car-share and rental companies, parking aids, electronic-vehicle charging stations, and location-based mobile lifestyle apps. “Customers will see their engagement with the BMW brand as an ongoing relationship, rather than a one-and-done purchase,” says the Harvard Business Review.