In an era when total brand loyalty seems like a rare gem, the food industry is witnessing a fierce battle to earn and retain customer trust. Executives at DoorDash and Taco Bell share invaluable insights on the strategies essential to creating brand loyalty that stands the test of time.
1. Trust: The Cornerstone of Loyalty
Kofi Amoo-Gottfried, CMO of DoorDash, emphasizes the pivotal role of trust. He explains, “If you ordered something, did you get what you ordered? Did it show up in time? Was the food still hot? All of these things, if you don’t deliver on them, they erode trust.” Building trust is the foundation upon which brand loyalty can be constructed. Once trust is established, brands can then move towards understanding and anticipating customer needs, ultimately persuading them to become repeat purchasers.
Dane Mathews, Chief Digital Officer at Taco Bell, further elaborates, “To thrive, [brands need to] move beyond enabling trust to inspire customers. Our vision is to get to a place where there’s going to be more delight than trust. And then we will finally be thinking about this from a relationship perspective [where] we can grow.”
2. Subscription Programs for Retention and Frequency
Both DoorDash and Taco Bell recognize the significance of retention and frequency in their business models. Amoo-Gottfried states, “The two things that are super important in our business are retention and frequency.” To boost customer retention and purchase frequency, subscription programs are employed, but they are most effective when aimed at an already-loyal customer base where brands have access to relevant data.
“[Subscriptions] need to be tied to discrete audiences that you’re trying to grow specific defined behaviors out of,” adds Amoo-Gottfried. Metrics serve as guides to facilitate the initiation and implementation of these programs effectively.
3. The Role of Social Media
While purchases are the starting point for loyalty, social media also plays a vital role in engaging customers and gaining their loyalty. Mathews points out that Taco Bell’s enthusiastic fans, aptly named “purple knights,” actively participate on social media. They often assist other consumers in discovering new Taco Bell products and offer recommendations.
“We look at the sphere of loyalty beyond just purchases,” says Mathews. “It’s about how [to involve] other consumers that want to be engaged. We think that’s part of being loyal too.”
4. Loyalty is a Continuous Journey
In the fiercely competitive landscape, achieving 100% customer loyalty at all times may be an elusive goal. Mathews explains, “It’s a game you’re always trying to optimize.” Instead of striving for unwavering loyalty, brands should focus on continually earning consumer trust, which can lead to more frequent and potentially larger purchases.
Amoo-Gottfried concludes, “Loyalty is the end goal. You don’t get there today. You have to earn it. So how do you keep building a better product? How do you keep building better value? How do you keep creating reasons for people to come back over [a prolonged period of] time?” Building brand loyalty is an ever-evolving journey, and the commitment to ongoing improvement remains the key to success.