What is Emotional Loyalty ? And how do you build it ?

A true, sincere and lasting relationship is based on non-tangible elements, emotions and feelings that can be difficult to explain.‍This is what we call emotional loyalty.‍What exactly is it? Why is it essential? How do you build it? How to measure it?
What is Emotional Loyalty ? And how do you build it ?

81% of consumers want a relationship with a brand (Merkle, 2021). 

Pause and let this idea sink in. 

They don't want a simple transactional bond, nor a fleeting interaction, but an authentic, deep loyal relationship.

You may be thinking, "Loyalty isn't just about points, discounts and repeat purchases?

It's much more than that. 

And it has to be more than that.

A true, sincere and lasting relationship is based on non-tangible elements, emotions and feelings that can be difficult to explain.

This is what we call emotional loyalty.

What exactly is it? Why is it essential? How do you build it? How to measure it?

That's what we're going to look at together in these lines.

Are you ready?

What is emotional loyalty?

Emotional loyalty is the deep-rooted emotional connection a consumer feels towards a brand, transcending mere transactional interactions.

It goes beyond the surface-level interactions a consumer has with a brand. We're not just talking about swiping loyalty cards or cashing in on discounts. It’s far deeper than that.

Emotional loyalty is that warm feeling you get when a brand aligns perfectly with your values, or the sense of trust when you believe they truly have your best interests at heart. 

It's not just about fulfilling a need. It’s about creating an emotional bond.

Romance with brand

An example of emotional loyalty

Let me tell you a story to help you understand emotional loyalty.

Let's travel to a small town nestled in the mountains, where Mrs. Evelyn runs a small bakery known for its mouth-watering blueberry muffins and warm smiles.

In this town lives Tom. Tom could pick up a muffin at a dozen places on his way to work, including a large discount chain that sells them for half the price. 

But he doesn't. 

He goes to Evelyn's, rain or shine.

It's not just the taste of these muffins that attracts Tom, but also the aroma that reminds him of his grandmother's cooking, the nostalgic tunes playing in the background and the way Evelyn remembers that he loves her slightly overbaked muffins. 

He's not just a customer, he's part of the family.

This is emotional loyalty in its purest form. 

Tom's bond with Evelyn's bakery isn't based on price or convenience. It's the intangible emotions, memories and experiences that bind him to the place. 

Evelyn has done more than sell muffins; she has struck a chord in Tom's heart, making him a loyal customer for reasons that can't be measured in dollars.

Transactional loyalty vs. emotional loyalty

Emotional loyalty is one of the components of customer loyalty, alongside transactional loyalty.

What's the difference between the two?

Have you ever heard the phrase "Buy 2 baguettes, get the third one free"? This is transactional loyalty.

Transactional loyalty is a relationship based on tangible benefits. 

Customers engage with the brand primarily to obtain rewards, discounts or offers. 

It appeals to our logical side and is often temporary. Once the offer ends, or a better deal is offered elsewhere, this "loyalty" is likely to vanish.

Emotional loyalty, on the other hand, is a deeply rooted bond that persists even when there are no glittering offers on the table. 

Remember our friend Tom from Evelyn's Bakery? His loyalty wasn't tied to getting a discounted muffin, but to the feelings and memories associated with the place. 

Emotional loyalty means that a brand has struck a chord in the consumer's values, beliefs or emotions, creating a relationship that's hard to break.

In short, while transactional loyalty is akin to a business agreement, emotional loyalty is akin to a true friendship. 

In the former case, it's about knowing "what you can bring me", while in the latter, it's about knowing "how you make me feel".

Why is emotional loyalty important?

Why is this heart-driven connection such a game-changer? Here are some of the main benefits of building emotional loyalty with your customers.

Long-term customer loyalty

Unlike the fleeting nature of transaction-based interactions, emotional loyalty tends to last. It's like comparing a summer fling to a timeless love affair. 

When customers feel a genuine connection, they stay, often for a long time.

Organic word of mouth

Happy customers are the best advertisers. Emotionally connected customers don't just come back, they talk enthusiastically about their experience, effortlessly amplifying brand reach and credibility.

Resilience to market shifts

Economic slowdown? New competitors? When the business seas become stormy, emotionally loyal customers are your anchor. 

Their commitment runs deep, making them less likely to jump ship.

Increased revenues

As they say, people buy on emotion and justify with logic.

Indeed, consumers are more likely to spend on brands they like. 

Emotional loyalty often means that customers aren't afraid to spend more, because the value isn't just in the product. It's in the experience.

Valuable consumer insights

Emotionally invested customers care. 

They want to see the brands they love thrive. That means they're more likely to give honest, constructive feedback, helping you to improve and shine.

Tolerance for brand missteps

Let's face it. No brand is perfect. 

But when you've built up an emotional bond, customers are more understanding and forgiving of occasional problems.

They trust you to put things right.

9 tips to build emotional customer loyalty 

Building emotional loyalty is a long and challenging process that requires the right strategy and a bold attitude.

Here are 9 advices to build emotional customer loyalty 

  1. Personalize experiences
  2. Foster authentic communications
  3. Engage beyond communication
  4. Stand for something
  5. Seek feedback and act on it
  6. Surprise and delight
  7. Offer exceptional customer service
  8. Showcase UGC
  9. Add gamification

1. Personalize experiences

Generic approaches are yesterday's game. Today, it's all about personalization. 

Tailor your interactions, offers, and communication to fit individual customer profiles.

The more customized the experience, the deeper the connection.

2. Foster authentic communication

Ditch scripted answers. Consumers can spot inauthenticity a mile away. 

Whether in customer service or marketing campaigns, speak from the heart. 

Authenticity fosters trust, the very basis of emotional loyalty.

3. Engage beyond transactions

Don't limit interaction to sales. Engage customers through storytelling, content marketing or community events. 

Building a narrative around your brand allows consumers to become part of a larger story, strengthening emotional ties.

Read this article to create a loyalty program that goes beyond transactional aspects

4. Stand for something

Brands that have clear values and stick to them tend to foster deeper emotional connections. 

Whether it's sustainability, community involvement or any other cause, having clear ethics can resonate deeply with like-minded consumers.

5. Seek feedback and act on it

Involve customers in your brand journey. Solicit their feedback regularly and, above all, show them that you're taking action based on their comments. 

It reinforces their sense of belonging and value.

6. Surprise and delight

Occasionally, go beyond expectations. 

Surprise gifts, personalized notes or even a simple thank-you call can leave an indelible mark and make consumers feel truly special and appreciated.

7. Offer exceptional customer service

It may sound cliché, but exceptional customer service never goes out of style. 

When customers know they can count on you to address their concerns quickly and empathetically, they're more likely to develop a lasting affinity with your brand. 

Remember, it's often the small gestures of kindness and understanding that leave lasting memories.

8. Showcase user-generated content (UGC)

Today, word-of-mouth has evolved into user-generated content. 

So encourage your customers to share their experiences, photos, videos or testimonials with you.

By showcasing their content on your platforms (social media, website, newsletter...), you not only validate their relationship with your brand, but also create a sense of community and belonging.

9. Add gamification

Add a pinch of fun to the mix!

By integrating gamification mechanisms (such as loyalty points, badges, leaderboards or challenges), you make the customer journey more attractive and rewarding. 

It's not just about making a purchase, but also about having a stimulating experience, taking on challenges and earning rewards. 

It's a fantastic way to combine entertainment with loyalty.

Want to know more? Discover the 8 steps to successful gamification

How do you measure emotional loyalty?

If tangible measures like sales figures are pretty straightforward, how do you quantify feelings? 

Here are 5 methods for assessing emotional loyalty:

  1. Net Promoter Score
  2. Customer feedback and surveys
  3. Customer Lifetime Value
  4. Participation in brand initiatives
  5. Sentiment analysis

1. Net Promoter Score (NPS)

This classic, seemingly simple metric speaks volumes. 

By asking the question "How likely is it that you would recommend our brand to a friend?", you measure the depth of a customer's attachment. 

A high score is often more than a sign of satisfaction. It testifies to an emotional investment.

Take a look at this article to find out how to calculate your NPS (and 10 other customer loyalty KPIs).

2. Customer feedback and surveys

Beyond structured measures, it's sometimes qualitative feedback that brings emotional connections to light. 

Encourage open feedback and carefully examine the feelings expressed. Look for mentions of personal experiences, memories or emotions linked to your brand.

3. Customer Lifetime Value (CLV)

While this metric has a financial connotation, a consistently high CLV indicates that customers don't just return for transactional reasons. 

They come back because they feel a deeper connection, which guarantees a sustained relationship over time.

4. Participation in brand initiatives

If you launch a campaign, workshop or event and see a high participation rate, especially from regular customers, it's a clear sign of their emotional commitment.

They're not just buying the product, they're invested in the brand experience.

5. Sentiment analysis

Use AI-driven tools to analyze feedback, reviews and mentions on digital platforms. 

These tools assess the sentiment (positive, negative or neutral) associated with brand mentions, giving you insight into emotional perceptions and a nuanced understanding of emotional loyalty.

Recommended for you👇