How PR And Business Positioning Strategy Impacts Customer Loyalty

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Public Relations has a vital role to play in shaping the marketing strategy of any business. Be it tackling negative news reports about your company or building strategies to enhance the brand value of your products, PR is an absolute necessity. But building brand equity or overcoming negative brand perception are not just for vanity sake. How your company and brand is perceived can directly impact the trust that customers place on your brand and also their loyalty. Here are a few ways this can happen.

Premium Branding Builds Loyal Customers

Cupertino-based Apple has always positioned itself as a premium brand. While the rest of the smartphone market competes on features, technology and price, Apple has continued to position its product as a ‘magical’ device that brings with it a sense of exclusivity that plebeian Android devices cannot provide. This is despite the fact that the revolutionary new features on an iPhone have already existed on Android phones much earlier. Apple has achieved this through a sustained PR campaign that has established the exclusivity and premium-nature of the Apple brand. And the result – a recent Morgan Stanley research found that Apple enjoyed an excellent 90 percent brand retention among customers in the smartphone industry which was way higher than what competitors like Samsung, Nokia and HTC enjoyed.

Positioning Can Set Customer Expectations’

All brands are not the same and customers do not expect them all to operate equally either. Some brands position themselves as cheap alternatives and customers who go with these products do so fully knowing that they may not be reliable. So while a customer of a premium brand may lose trust when the product fails to work, the customer buying a low-cost option may continue to trust the brand simply because the expectations they have of the product is low. In short, customer expectation is not determined solely by factors like price and features but instead by what the business promises with their product.

Public Relations Helps Branding Benchmark

One of the key objectives of getting covered in the media is to be viewed in a context where your target group would be seeking for a brand with your positioning strategy. For instance, if a car magazine buyer would expect to read about BMW in an article about luxury car features and about GM or Ford about the mass car market. From a business standpoint, this is a useful strategy to define the way consumers look at your business. For instance, if you are a lifestyle brand, you can position yourself as a trailblazer or pioneer brand by being covered in the context of upcoming trends and in the ‘What’s New’ sections of lifestyle magazines.

To put this in short, the phrase ‘all publicity is good publicity’ is not always right. Your publicity should always be in the context of your brand positioning and this helps set customer expectations and thus better loyalty and trust

Customer loyalty is determined by what the customer expected from you when they purchased from you in the first place. If you positioned yourself as a low-cost brand but the product worked out as expensive as rivals, then your customers are going to bail. Similarly, if you position your brand as a premium offering but break down soon, that is going to make your customers lose trust as well. Public Relations and positioning strategy go a long way in setting expectations right and are thus absolutely critical when it comes to ensuring customer loyalty.

3 COMMENTS

  1. Hi Anand, interesting article; however, I tend to disagree with your ‘premium branding builds loyal customers’ postulation. There are numerous premium brands for which this is not true.

    Also Apple is doing it differently: They are creating emotions and are helping people to get their job done easily. Their designing stuff for lock in helps, too – while buying because of being locked in is not exactly a sign of loyalty, just a proof that the change barrier is high.

    The premium branding is only the icing on the cake which then, too, helps them to command premium pricing.

    2 ct from Down Under
    Thomas
    @twieberneit

    PS: Am ‘Applified’ myself 😉

  2. Hi Thomas,

    Thank you for commenting. I agree with most of what you say. Apple is definitely what it is today not just because of its brand positioning but also many other factors, including lock-ins.

    But I also strongly believe that premium branding does create exclusivity which in turn contribute towards loyalty. You can find a successful example of this in almost all industries. Vera Wang and BMW come to mind.

  3. Hi Anand, premium branding may create exclusivity, yes. BMW is a fairly good example, too – in recent times, although I would think that Porsche and Ferrari and the likes are better examples. But then there are plenty opposite examples, too. In the car industry we have also Merzedes and Audi, with Audi currently struggling …

    Very interesting topic for a longer discussion, I guess

    Cheers
    Thomas
    @twieberneit

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