“They won’t be sold; they want to be seen, known, and respected and only those marketers and retailers that invest in relationships through empathy, deep understanding and insight will prevail.” (Ordun, 2015).
Why is Relationship Marketing important? In today’s business environment brands have to compete ferociously to retain and acquire customers, this has resulted in businesses building stronger and deeper customer relationships. Ndubisi (2004), stated that increasing amounts of firms are capitalising on “strong firm-customer relationships” in order for them to gain vital material on how to keep customers loyal to their brand, which is described as creating “mutual rewards where benefits for both customers and brand are gained” (Rapp and Collins, 1992). What’s more this building of relationships also gathers quality sources of “marketing intelligence for better planning of marketing strategy” (Oly Ndubisi, 2007).
Relationship Marketing (RM) is still a new concept to the marketing domain therefore a definition for this topic varies slightly from one scholar to another. Gronroos (1994) defined RM as a set of objectives that sets out to “identify, establish, maintain, enhance and also when necessary terminate relationships with customers and other stakeholders.” Gronroos then points out that these relationships are completed at a profit to intend that objectives of all parties involved be met. This is done by mutual exchange and fulfillment of promises (Ogechukwu et al., 2013).
Berry (2002) perceived RM as a strategy to “attract, maintain and enhance customer relationships”. Gummesson (1993) outlined the term as a form of strategy where the management of “interactions, relationships and networks” is a critical marketing matter (Oly Ndubisi, 2007).
Other scholars have similarly said that the RM concept involves goals that are created and maintained through lasting relationships between the firm and its customers that are rewarding for both sides (Rapp and Collins, 1992). Therefore, to sum the notion up, the key concept of Relationship Marketing is to nurture customer loyalty upholding a deep connection with customers. (Oly Ndubisi, 2007).
One particular notion of loyalty that has been developed and seen positive brand loyalty using this technique, is through consistent brand personality (Magin et al., 2003). Studies have discovered that a customer’s loyalty towards a brand is influenced through the perceived brand’s personality (Lastovicka and Joachimsthaler 1988), and through the consumer’s own perceived personality or self-conception (Maeder et al. 2000).
A distinctive brand personality has been uncovered as being a fundamental role in the successfulness of a brand. It leads customers to perceive the brands personality and develop a strong connection to the brand (Doyle, 1990). Kumar et al, (2006) stated that a brand personality should be designed to be lifelong and consistent. Furthermore, it also needs to be different from other brands and at the same time still meet the consumer’s demands. If a brand held a specific brand personality, consumers with similar personality qualities would be attracted causing their brand preference to be further developed (Lin, 2010). Another way in which brand personality is advantageous, is through maintaining good relationship with customers (Aaker and Biel, 1993). This is developed when brands have their own specific personalities, and the consumer interacts and treats the brand as real human being (Lin, 2010). Therefore the consumer will expect the brands words, attitudes, behaviour or thoughts to meet their own respective personality traits (Aaker, 1996). To conclude this area of interest, a brands personality and communication therefore would be imperative in enhancing the brand’s loyalty and equity (Govers and Schoormans, 2005).
Author: Emma Muncaster, Digital Marketing Assistant for SSS
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