Michael is a Professor of Marketing in Haub School of Business at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, Marketing Consultant, and Author of multiple excellent books on consumer behaviour including his latest bestseller “The New Chameleons: How to Connect with Consumers Who Defy Categorization”.
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Originally trained as a social psychologist, Michael expanded his focus over the years from psychology and fashion to all kinds of products that express a person’s identity or who he wants to be.
As a consumer psychologist, he looks at the relationships between products and people, and how these products actually affect buyers in a deeper way, psychologically.
The New Chameleons
Michael’s book The New Chameleons came about after realizing that basic consumer categorization schemes were becoming counterproductive.
Based on his observations, people were responding and changing based on the different situations they found themselves in.
Old labels and categories no longer applied to these consumers, and Michael’s book highlights this to help brands understand that their customers should no longer be categorized in the same way as before.
Involving Consumers Right From The Beginning
Retailers have to realize that the market has moved from a linear decision sequence to what Michael calls today as the “always on” consumer who’s bombarded with information 24/7.
What this means especially for those in marketing is that you need to involve your customer earlier in their buying journey. Coming in too late may leave you behind the competition and out of your customer’s mind.
The Key To Building Loyalty
Highly engaged brands share their brand story and background, and even the people behind the brand. This allows customers to identify and connect with the brand on a deeper level such that they no longer identify your product as just a commodity they can easily replace.
How Soon Should We Build Engagement To Create Loyal Customers?
For Michael, there’s never a bad time to start engaging with your buyers and turning them into loyal customers.
Marketing strategies tend to focus on attracting and adding new customers when it is in fact more expensive to acquire customers than it is to keep existing ones.
Focus on and engage with your existing customer base so they become more loyal, and become your brand ambassadors.
If we’ve inspired someone to take their first step with loyalty – what do they need to know to give themselves the best chance of success?
First, realize that what you think you know about your customer may not be accurate.
The best way to validate your assumptions is to talk to your customers. Talk to your sales force, too because they’re the ones on the ground engaging regularly with your target market.
There’s a lot of market intelligence you already have in place so take advantage of them and get the data.
Once you’ve started of course you’ve got to ‘keep optimising’! So what’s your favourite way to improve loyalty performance?
Michael’s tip is to do more research.
He says people love being asked for their opinions, and having a feedback mechanism is important to know what’s resonating with your audience and what’s pulling them towards you.
This kind of engagement allows your customer to become part of not only the message development process, but your product development as well. Work with your customers in a synergistic way, because finding out what they think about you and your brand is a key factor for you.
If someone listening wants to learn more about loyalty is there one cheap/free resource you’d recommend?
Visit Michael’s website to find more information about his latest book, The New Chameleons, which talks about connecting with customers.
Also download Michael’s Brand Resonance Audit, a document that gives examples of ways a brand can engage with its customers, which can be found on his home page.
Crystal ball time – what’s coming up in the next 6-12 months that we should be getting ready for in loyalty?
The pandemic accelerated changes that were already happening, and this included moving online. And when a global event, such as this pandemic, happens, what it does is open people up to doing things in different ways.
People’s behaviors will change and will lock into place after a while so companies should take advantage of this.
Furthermore, what comes along with this is the move to AI, chat bots, and automated marketing sequences, and more updates to these technologies.
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