Brand affinity is the emotional connection felt by consumers toward a brand – and it’s arguably the most powerful predictor of long-term success. When consumers love you, they tell others about you and that’s the kind of word of mouth advertising every brand needs. We’re going to share more about brand affinity and how to build it below!
Research conducted on the influences on consumer behavior have shown that brands can strategically improve brand affinity with their customers – and all it takes is understanding them. That sounds easy, but it takes a bit of know how.
According to a Harvard Business Review report, customers become emotionally connected with brands that align with their values and motivations and help them fulfill “deep, often unconscious, desires.” This emotional connection can help businesses more accurately predict lifetime value than other, more popular metrics, like brand awareness or customer satisfaction. It’s an interesting bit of intel, for sure.
And there’s a definite difference between brand affinity and brand awareness.
Brand Affinity vs. Brand Awareness
Brand affinity is not to be conflated with brand awareness. Brand awareness is simply knowledge of the existence of a brand. Based on the number to times a consumer has been exposed to the brand via ‘touchpoints’ – the consumer’s awareness level fluctuates, so the brand may (or may not) be top of mind when they next think of making a relevant purchase. When it comes to influencing the buying decision though, brand affinity is the greater goal for organizations.
Brand awareness plays a crucial role in ensuring consumers know about the business in the first place, thus increasing brand awareness and the potential for a purchase. And brand affinity doesn’t begin to occur until consumer is aware of the brand – so the two concepts are interdependent.
And while brand awareness is wholly a product of the marketing department, brand affinity is a product of various customer touchpoints, hence many departments. The current brand affinity i.e. emotional connection, for a particular customer is the culmination of the different feelings evoked during their interaction with the brand up to this point, along every step of the purchase path and beyond.
For this post, let’s assume the target audience is already past the brand awareness stage and explore where brand affinity fits into your marketing mix.
Why Brand Affinity Matters for Marketing
While many brands are aware of the impact of consumer emotions on their sales, most of them fail at cultivating these emotions to their advantage. This may be either because they don’t know which emotions drive their customers’ behaviors and how to heighten them. Or it could be that their product category makes it harder for them to make such connections. It is no secret that some verticals and demographics are naturally easier to form emotional connections than others. However, whatever your industry, it is worth exploring ways to improve brand affinity; and here are some reasons why . . .
It improves customer retention
It’s both difficult and expensive to acquire new customers compared to keeping the ones you already have – five times as expensive, in fact. Brand affinity improves your ability to retain your existing customers. Emotional connection builds familiarity, trust, and confidence in your business. This increases the probability of your customers returning rather than seeking new, untested solutions.
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It helps identify other opportunities
Brand affinity helps businesses understand customers and identify new products or services they’re searching for. The more emotionally attached customers are, the more openly they sharee what they love or would like to see from your brand. And when you listen to those needs, you can be sure they’ll stick around longer! According to Harvard Business Review research, customers that are fully connected with a brand are 52% more valuable to a brand than those who are only highly satisfied but not fully connected – and it’s easy to see why.
When a brand is paying attention, it will hit all the consumer high notes. And in return, they sing the brand’s praises on social media:
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It drives data-driven marketing decisions
Brand affinity informs marketing investments by revealing emotionally connected target segments to focus on, as well as the emotional indicators exhibited – and ways to improve them. Beyond that, it shares their other interests, helping you create campaigns that not only resonate emotionally, but help them feel seen:
How to Build Brand Affinity
So, how can you build brand affinity with your customer base? At the heart of it, you need to find what influences the emotional connections and how to measure the impact of different influences.
Identify satisfied customers
Satisfied customers are easier to form emotional connections with – that elusive brand affinity. Therefore, you have a high likelihood of success if you focus on this group of customers.
Social listening reveals consumer sentiments and opinions publicly expressed across social media, forums, and other online platforms that make up the social web. Finding and nurturing those satisfied customers is key to retention, which we know makes sense financially!
Identify key motivators
Research has uncovered hundreds of emotional motivators that influence consumer buying decisions. However, the list can only give you a starting point as you seek to understand what influences customers.
To identify key motivators for your specific customer base, you need to perform an extensive analysis of your own business and, to a less extent, market. Customer experience data, survey data, customer reviews, competitive intelligence, and social intelligence can help you understand the main drivers of your consumers behaviors. And aggregating all of that insight in one place is made possible with an Intelligence Connector.
How to Measure Brand Affinity
You can only improve what you measure. If you want to improve brand affinity, you must include it among metrics measured! Here are a couple of ways to measure brand affinity:
Net Promoter Score (NPS)
Net Promoter Score (NPS) is a popular metric used mainly in customer experience. Businesses use NPS to get feedback from customers. It is easy to set up and is convenient for the customers. Typically, respondents get a single question asking them to give a rating based on their experience ranging from 0 to 10. Depending on their response, a respondent is classified as either a promoter, detractor, or passive. With this information, businesses measure brand affinity and begin to identify ways to improve it.
Sentiment analysis is a measure of the emotion behind consumer opinions, especially on the internet. NetBase Quid’s sentiment analysis tool uses machine learning technology to analyze millions of online conversations and reveals a sentiment score ranging from -100 to 0 to 100, which makes interpretation easy. But that’s far from the sum of it. Sentiment analysis offers nuanced insight around what consumers share with others online and sorts out not only the underlying emotions, but also the strength behind them. How passionately do they love or hate X widget, product, or your competitor – or you? With sentiment analysis, you can visualize answers to these questions and more.
And you can also dig in to reveal the ‘why’ behind the ‘what.’
Also, businesses can use our Intelligence Connector to fold-in their NPS and any other proprietary intel they’d like to analyze in their business intelligence tool. Capturing real-time intel with best-in-class accuracy is a game changer. Through AI-powered technology, NetBase Quid helps data analysts and marketers uncover hidden insight by digging deep and making connections between apparently disparate data points. If you need help improving brand affinity, reach out for a demo today to see how NetBase Quid discovers hidden emotional motivators.