Facing the Challenges of Building Loyalty and Retention: The New Strategic Imperative

If the latest economic downturn has taught marketers anything, it’s that we need to keep our friends close and our customers closer . During a time of tight purse strings in both business and consumer spending, the battle for wallet share has never been more intense . Faced with the high cost of new customer acquisition and constrained marketing budgets, businesses are looking to improve their bottom line by increasing focus on their most valuable asset – their customers . Loyalty and retention programs designed to strengthen the relationship between customer and business are now a staple in the marketing mix .

Even though these programs are pervasive across all types of businesses, marketers are now challenged with new customer dynamics . The global recession and the now- pervasive options available through social media and online channels have combined to usher in a new customer sovereignty, where frugal buyers can find, compare and evaluate purchases in a matter of minutes . What’s more, social media has given the customer significant power to influence the purchase behavior of others, giving a whole new meaning to the adage “the customer is king .”

Customers are more fickle these days . Their expectations are greater . They are easily wooed by the promise of savings and getting more for less . Brand loyalty is certainly not what it used to be .

Loyalty 360, in partnership with SAS, set out to examine current trends in customer and loyalty programs . In an online survey conducted from November to December 2011, more than 150 customer loyalty and retention executives in both B2B and B2C companies from a cross section of industries shared their insights and experiences . The study sought to understand how businesses are addressing their customer loyalty and retention efforts in the wake of changing market and customer dynamics, and to identify the keys to effective loyalty and retention efforts.