Sustaining brand loyalty

In an ever more technology driven world of shopping with more and more online options to chose from almost every day, the need to perpetually deliver emotionally resonant brand relevant content is becoming more and more challenging.

Even in the one trillion-dollar grocery business where Americans spend more on groceries that almost anything else the shift from analog to digital has resulted in the fact that we are definitely buying more groceries online than we were in 2019. Online has increased to about 7 to 15 percent from around 3 to 4 percent of total sales in 2019.

Whether by choice or necessity, the majority of grocery shopping is still happening the old-fashioned way -in supermarkets. However, the pandemic has increased the ordering of groceries online for in-store pickup.

Major supermarkets are redesigning stores to make it easier for their employees to assemble online orders, and some have also invested in Amazon-like automated mini-warehouses.

Inflation is driving many supermarkets to convert to more and more store brands and digitally establish relationships with their customers to drive their attention to their private, less expensive store brands. These savvy supermarkets are capitalizing on the trust and personalized loyalty relationships they have established with millions of customers and are using this trust to establish their brand names as alternatives to similar, more expensive national brands that their customers are familiar with.

Supermarkets have captured invaluable customer data through their loyalty discount programs and are using it to create valuable brand equity for their store branded products. This critical first-party customer data is being managed internally to create customized data management tools which allows for consolidating vendors and increasing profitability.

The most effective customer experiences are often formed by past price/quality relationships that continue to be relevant for future customer preferences. A recent research study indicated that 75% of customers surveyed on emotion-driven engagement said that they expect the brands that they favor to know their purchase history, which supermarkets certainly do. 52% said that they want the companies that they favor to know how satisfied they are with the products that they have purchased.

Obviously, “agility” has become a mandate for marketers in today’s disrupted world.

Data and decisioning mastery are critical to this agility. By having an abundance of customer loyalty information supermarkets can identify new customer microsegments like less expensive store brands and manage the most effective ways to engage these customers to increase the brand equity of these supermarket brands.

Successful brands create an “emotional value” in the mind of the customer. So, in the evolving technology driven world we are in, companies have to become “emotionally intelligent” enterprises. It’s a fact that consumers who have developed an emotional bond with a brand will continue to purchase that brand and are less likely to be lured away by a competitive offering.

Robert M. Donnelly is an author, educator and brand builder for businesses and individuals. His consultancy business is called His corporate life was spent in executive positions with IBM, Pfizer and EXXON and then as the CEO for several U.S. subsidiaries of foreign multinational firms. Professor Donnelly is on the faculty of Saint Peters University as well as Rushmore University, a global online university. His latest book is Personal Brand Planning for Life, available on Amazon. He also functions as an interim executive. You can contact him at or visit his website at