With 52% of online shopping taking place via mobile devices, and high street retailers fighting back with local search ads to make in-store shopping more convenient, consumers have never been faced with so much choice when it comes to filling their baskets, according to Morten Strand, chief executive for market research tools provider Cint, who here explains how it is the loyalty felt toward a brand that can often seal the deal for today's savvy shopper. This article is copyright 2015 The Best Customer Guide.

For this reason, the cultivation of brand loyalty has become more of a priority for brands, acting as a means of retention as well as a tool for attracting new customers. Winning the trust of consumers is a long process, and household brands like John Lewis, Amazon and Waitrose work hard to maintain strong relationships with their existing audiences. However, the way in which companies seek to achieve brand loyalty is evolving fast. toward the end of last year, John Lewis retracted its free coffee and cake offer, whilst Sainsbury's plans to halve the value of reward points from April. This indicates a decline in the benefits of the old fashioned loyalty card scheme.

Brands that listen closely to their audiences through online panels can quickly convert a loyal customer into a brand advocate. Obtaining insightful data and reacting to it can be a way of collaborating with customers, as opposed to marketing at them. A study conducted by Cint revealed that 62% of people felt more loyal to a brand that asked their opinion. It would also appear that understanding what motivates advocates and responding proactively is more likely to be interpreted as a 'thank you' rather than a sales pitch.

Well-thought-out loyalty schemes that offer regular and relevant rewards can have a real impact on where and how customers shop. This was confirmed in a recent study by Trusted Loyalty partners, which revealed that loyalty schemes are the most effective way of driving footfall to a store. The survey concluded that brand loyalty schemes came out as the most effective initiative with 34%. Utilising transactional data to create tailored schemes and offers helps to ensure that customers feel like they are being listened to and that brands are responding on a personal level. Whether brands work to pre-empt trends and promote relevant offers or simply recognise frequent purchases and appeal to customers by extending discounts on weekly favourites, personalisation is set to be one of the most important tools in the marketing arsenal in 2015.

Web personalisation is a great example of how listening to consumers can enhance a shopping experience. According to 82% of survey respondents, Amazon offers the best level of web personalisation, with 31% of consumers claiming that tailored recommendations and content would make them more likely to purchase items. Looking carefully at transactional data and conducting detailed field research is key to integrating data resources and developing bespoke offers with real consumer appeal.

Brand loyalty is not a quick fix as relationships and trust need to be carefully nurtured over time. However, for busy shoppers who can become bewildered with options, brand loyalty offers a comfortable and trustworthy alternative.