Customer loyalty is the secret sauce for creating long-term brand success. But how exactly do you earn it and keep it going? Retail Brew offers customer loyalty strategies with relatable examples of brands doing it right.
Below, we’re reprinting the Retail Brew article in its entirety:
In 2015, a direct-to-consumer brand launched with a couple of products and participated in their local accelerator program.
In 2019, they raised $23 million in venture capital while the founder, might we add, was eight months pregnant with twins. Today that company brings in nearly $128 million in revenue as the famous direct-to-consumer jewelry brand, Mejuri.
But how did founders Noura Sakkijha and Majed Masad make their direct-to-consumer brand earn such a loyal, almost cult-like, following?
In this guide, we’ll break down the strategies they, and many other successful direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands, implement today.
Climbing the mountain of loyalty as a DTC brand
Customer engagement and loyalty are two of the hardest things to earn as a new brand.
Heck, even getting customers in the first place is hard. Below are three strategies Mejuri, and similar DTC brands, implement to keep customers coming back and spreading word of mouth.
Connecting Beyond the Purchase
The DTC brands that win don’t just sell a product; they sell a lifestyle. They invade the customer’s life, taking up real estate in their email and phone, reminding them why they love the brand so damn much.
Peloton has been a strong proponent of this strategy. When consumers buy the $2,500 bike, they are pedaling their way into a community. The $500 annual Peloton subscription keeps customers connected even years after they’ve purchased their bike.
They get workouts tailored to a Peloton, not just any exercise bike. And they join a community of avid Pelotonites while accessing a class that feels exclusive yet is worth shouting about from the rooftops.
Add Value with Omnichannel
Having eight or more touch points with the customer is key to getting them to take action. For example, signing up for a newsletter (like Retail Brew) or completing a purchase.
DTC success, Casper, proved that people would buy mattresses online. It didn’t change that some Casper customers were desperate to take a trial nap before committing $2,000 to a mattress.
Casper is now a DTC brand that sells online, retail, and wholesale. They’ve found multiple ways to connect with their customers and have been able to transition this interaction into increased customer loyalty.
From day one, Mejuri saw the power of influencers over traditional endorsements like celebrities and industry experts. The power is in the people.
New consumers, Gen Z and Millennials, to which the majority of DTC brands cater, are looking at TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube influencers for buying recommendations. Mejuri befriended many fashion influencers who were so new that the word “influencer” didn’t exist at the time.
But this is how they grew and continue to build customer loyalty seven years later. It’s a proven strategy for all of Mejuri’s new product launches and gets people to buy more, not just once, while also becoming brand ambassadors.
The best DTC marketing strategies for 2022
Loyalty programs are not dead.
Sweetgreen, the 15-year-old industry giant, which is sitting at a cool $1.6 billion valuation without a loyalty program, has decided to implement a program after testing it in many stores nationwide. Sweetgreen piloted a rewards program incentivizing customers.
“Don’t be afraid of being the first to sell in an unconventional place.”
The more Sweetgreen they ate, the happier their wallet and probably their stomach as well. To connect with their health-obsessed consumers, Sweetgreen even calls their loyalty program “Rewards and Challenges,” putting the onus on the consumer.
With this mindset, the task of something easy and enjoyable, like eating a couple of delicious Sweetgreen meals a week, becomes something the customer wants to accomplish. Ultimately, there are more greens for consumers and even more green for Sweetgreen.
Sometimes less truly is more. A common shared strategy by many of these successful DTC brands is their willingness to start small–with as few ideas and products as possible.
Away, a famous suitcase company, launched with just one suitcase, and they released it in various colorways in 2015, and the reception was overwhelmingly positive. Even today, with all of its growth, Away limits its product selection.
“Despite what the internet may tell you, building a successful DTC empire doesn’t happen overnight.”
This marketing strategy isn’t just for the risk-averse, and it has built trust by giving Away authority in the luggage industry.
The happy medium of pop-up stores is enough to give consumers that in-person connection without the commitment to a retail store for DTC brands. We live in the age of pop-ups, and they are becoming an increasingly pop-ular (pun-intended) way to market.
But brands today are getting creative with their pop-ups from where to whom they are popping up. Dior and Vespa, as well as Fendi and Skims, teamed up for some history-making pop-up collaborations. Hosting a pop-up with a brand that shares similar values can increase outcomes tenfold.
Other brands like Forever 21 are popping up in the Metaverse and selling $1 million worth of virtual t-shirts. Don’t be afraid of being the first to sell in an unconventional place.
What makes a storied brand?
Despite what the internet may tell you, building a successful DTC empire doesn’t happen overnight.
The common denominator between all of these brands is that they were the first – Casper was the first to sell mattresses online, and Mejuri was one of the first changemakers in jewelry, leveraging the power of influencer marketing and inspiring women to buy that gold for themselves.
These brands were first because they followed trends and stayed in the know. As a brand builder, it is your role to seek out information. But we know you have a long to-do list, so we curate a list of retail trends on the RetailBrew so that you can be first.
If you want to leverage the first-mover advantage, sign up for the Retail Brew newsletter for industry news and analysis.
Even if you operate in the B2B space (like we do at Shamrock), there are some great takeaways from Retail Brew’s DTC piece that can help you align your strategies to build and maintain a loyal customer base.