The Power of Brand Loyalty in Online Shopping

March 13, 2023
The Power of Brand Loyalty in Online Shopping

How Brands Create Emotional Connections with Consumers

In an age defined by social media, marketing, and new ways of thinking, branding has now become more important than ever. Consumer branding has a significant impact on customer behaviour, allowing companies to differentiate themselves from competitors and gain a competitive advantage. Differentiation is just one part of the puzzle, with the end goal being building an empire of brand loyalty.

Businesses worldwide have adopted an approach to emotionally connect with their target market, with makeup companies catering to ever-changing fashion/beauty trends, and tech companies setting themselves apart by adding innovative features to phones, laptops, etc.

Think about brands such as Apple. The company has an NPS (Net Promoter Score) of 72 – that’s around 20 points higher than the industry average. That didn’t come from nowhere. Apple focuses heavily on promoting a recognizable band that is associated with innovation and style, as well as having a reputation for delivering a seamless and integrated user experience across its hardware and software products.

These are a few of many ways the company creates emotional connections with its consumers. This article will explore the specifics of what constitutes good brand loyalty and the power of consumerism.

Storytelling and understanding your customers:

It seems to be a no-brainer; of course, a brand needs to understand their target market. But campaigns for this have often been misguided, even by the biggest companies. Every brand will have its own aesthetic, its own market, but what is it that differentiates your company from another? Why should a customer choose Company A’s pair of jeans and not Company B’s? The first step is to cultivate a deep-rooted, accurate understanding of who it is they want to wear their jeans. Creating personas is the first step, considering various backgrounds, values, interests, and motivations.

But then there comes a cross-section where these same personas also fit into your competitors personas – the Venn diagram becomes two very overlapping circles. As Dharmesh Shah, Co-Founder of HubSpot has stated, “Many companies have forgotten they sell to actual people. Humans care about the entire experience, not just the marketing or sales or service. To really win in the modern age, you must solve for humans”.

In other words, to make these circles a Venn diagram once more, brands must identify their customer’s values and worldviews to create a story – adding depth and emotion to the company.

A company that does a great job at storytelling is Airbnb. On the surface, the site lists a bunch of homes, apartments, hotels, etc. within a particular area and users can select which one they like the most. But digging a bit deeper than that, Airbnb utilises its market to tell a story centring around offering new experiences, luxuries, and a sense of belonging in a potentially foreign landscape.

Their “Belong Anywhere” campaign revamped the site’s appeal to move away from just a site that promotes houses and rooms, but to sell you the experience of living somewhere new like a local. So, at the end of the day, Airbnb’s story centres around the customer, letting them know how essential they are to the Airbnb experience. And thus, brand loyalty starts with the story: what are you offering to customers that connects with them on an emotional level?


The second pillar of brand loyalty that comes after you’ve understood your target market. This is also where customer data comes into play.

Personalization involves collecting and analyzing customer data, whether it be purchasing habits or behaviours to help create. It’s a powerful tool for creating emotional connections with consumers, nurturing an optimized shopping experience. Especially in an age where various markets are only becoming more and more saturated, personalized experiences such as through loyalty programs, personal recommendations, and rewards are more important than ever. Again, it’s about differentiation and getting the competitive edge.

One company that does this exceptionally well is Spotify. The platform offers its users a multitude of personalised playlists based on their listening habits, genres, and interactions with artists. The classics are Discover Weekly, which lets users “discover” new artists and songs they might like based on their listening history, and Release Radar, a playlist full of a user’s most listened-to tracks. It definitely seems to work in their favour, as the streaming giant increased from 172 million users in 2021 to 205 million users by the end of 2022.

This sort of personalization makes customers feel valued and understood. When brands connect with their customers based on personal interests, needs, and values, it demonstrates that they’re willing to take that extra step to cater to all consumers, leading to a higher level of trust. But of course, it’s not that simple. Effective personalization requires huge amounts of data that users are willing to give to companies – meaning it’s easier for bigger companies to invest in it.

Brands have mastered personalization in numerous ways including: segmentation, personalized communications, customized product recommendation, and personalized content. For segmentation, brands create sectors for their customers based various demographics including behaviour, age, gender, etc, allowing them to be targeted more accurately. This leads into personalized content and product recommendations, whereby brands use machine learning algorithms to recommend products based on customer segmentation, individual preferences and purchasing history.


Empathy is another important aspect of building emotional connections with consumers.

Brands that show empathy and understanding towards their customers are more likely to build strong emotional connections with them. Brands can show empathy by listening to their customers' needs, providing solutions to their problems, and being present for them in times of need. In fact, many brands will utilise empathy as a core marketing strategy, particularly those that are customer-centric.

Oftentimes, these brands will put on the shoes of the consumer to find a bridge between customer needs and what businesses can provide. Particularly, with the ever-growing awareness of social issues such as racism, homophobia, sexism, etc, numerous brands worldwide are creating inclusive campaigns to further connect with their market.

As with all methods to achieve brand loyalty, there are campaigns that have completely missed the mark in understanding the consumer, and campaigns that have perfectly encapsulated what life means to be an average American in the twenty-first century, or whatever the target market might be.

We can compare two campaigns: Pepsi’s “Live for Now” campaign in 2017 featuring Kendall Jenner, and LUSH’s “How It’s Made” branding.

Pepsi’s approach tried to tackle deep-seated, institutional issues such as police brutality and allegedly trivialised the Black Lives Matter movement. The brand insinuated that these real-world problems could be solved simply by sharing a can of Pepsi with opposing groups – pretty bad, I know. Called out for the brand’s performative activism, it was clear to see that Pepsi didn’t really show empathy toward its market, and rather attempted to profit off of  pretending to understand their customers and social issues.

LUSH, on the other hand, took the brand authenticity approach to connect with its customers – mainly those who are looking for ethically sourced products. Their “How It’s Made” videos, demonstrating where products are created and who develops them allowed consumers to gain an insider view of the company’s inner workings – something that consumers are often barred from observing. This extra level of care has cemented the brand as one that truly understands its market, without attempting to warp empathy and feign understanding.

From these examples, we can understand the power of empathy marketing in developing brand loyalty. Empathy marketing aids brands in standing out from competitors, building a sense of trust, driving engagement with the market, and improving the emotional connection between companies and consumers.

In conclusion, creating emotional connections with consumers is crucial for businesses to build brand loyalty and differentiate themselves from their competitors. Brands can achieve this through storytelling, personalization and empathy. Emotional connections with consumers can lead to increased brand advocacy, repeat business, and higher customer lifetime value. Brands that prioritize creating emotional connections with their customers are more likely to succeed in today's market.

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