Customer loyalty isn’t just about long-term retention and lifetime value. Though those metrics are essential to measuring the health of your business, it’s imperative to look at the quality of the loyalty you’re fostering with your community.
Customers likely came to you first because of a unique problem you solved for them. Perhaps they loved burning candles but hated going out to shop for clean-burning wax in different scents. So you created a subscription model for those consumers to have candles regularly delivered to their doorstep.
Or maybe you helped a customer that always forgot to pick up toilet paper from the store by building a toilet paper subscription service. It met their needs and added additional value like sustainable materials and free shipping.
After building your base, you were able to cultivate and focus more on loyalty. Keeping those customers happy for a long period of time. Creating opportunities for word-of-mouth referrals and influencer relationships. The products you sold became synonymous with your brand.
But what if you were to pivot into a new vertical?
Would those loyal customers stay with you long-term? Would you be able to create the same buzz around your new offerings as you did with your existing ones?
Customers, especially those in the Millennial and Gen Z demographics, tend to gravitate toward brands they feel connected to on more than just the product level. According to a consumer report by 5WPR, 86% of young consumers want brands to align with their values. And 65% of those consumers have said they’ve boycotted brands before that took an opposing stance on an issue that was important to them.
What these younger customers continue to ask for is a sense of community and belonging to brands that truly “get them.”
It’s no surprise that when done right, these brands have a group of people with unshakable loyalty and trust– so much so that when those brands explore new product offerings that are often way outside of their current vertical, the customers jump on board.
How to pivot verticals and keep loyal customers
First and foremost, when looking at your expansion into new markets, it must align with your overall mission and values. For example, if you were known for your sustainably roasted coffee beans that are shipped in sustainable packaging, you wouldn’t want to pivot to something like fast-fashion, shipped in unsustainable mailers. The disconnect would be too severe and consumers would likely question the integrity of your commitment to sustainability.
Instead, a great tactic would be to identify what your customers would naturally gravitate toward. As that sustainable coffee merchant, perhaps you move into the home goods vertical, selling eco-conscious kitchen storage containers and appliances. It not only amplifies your core product by providing customers with the whole package, but also gives them more options to lean into your mission with you and commit to more sustainable practices in the home.
As with any subscription offering, the key to success is in the value that that service brings to your customers. Whether it’s discounted products, free shipping, or exclusive perks, customers look toward this value-add to decide if it’s worth it for them to invest in a long-term relationship with a brand.
For your new product offering, what is the value proposition for your customers and does it align with their core beliefs? How will this new product make their lives better? Giving them a reason to believe in this new endeavor you’re on will also get them on board faster.
A tactic many brands use is to provide loyal customers with free samples of an upcoming product before it hits the market. If that’s not feasible due to the nature of your product offering, try providing a discount for those customers to experience it first. The exclusivity and opportunity to try something for an affordable price can get them excited about what’s to come, while also giving you an opportunity to solicit feedback from them before it goes broader.
Broaden the customer pool
Many brands will opt for a new product offering to expand their community beyond the existing group of customers. If you’re planning on reaching for an entirely new audience, it’s imperative that you don’t alienate your existing customers in the process.
By giving your existing customer community an early heads up as to your plans for new product launches, you create instances where they may do the outreach for you– letting friends and family who may fit into your new target market know that this is coming.
We all know word of mouth is the highest quality referral source out there, so showing those customers that you value their opinion and loyalty by offering them early access is an excellent tactic to keep them happy, even if they are not within the market segment your new product is designed to serve.
Your influencers are yet another great group of people to utilize when trying to broaden your customer base with new products. Sending them new products early to hype up on social media channels can generate buzz well ahead of your product launch. Especially if that product still fits within your overall mission and values, it’s an easier sell for an influencer to tout new and exciting things coming to your brand.
Keep your ducks in a row
At the end of the day, the most important thing in the eyes of your customer is “the why” behind your brand and the value you provide them.
Ensuring that customers know and understand your business’ purpose-driven mission as well as the value your products or services provide them will always be the most reliable way to retain customers. Whether you’re riding the unpredictable waves of the 2020s or testing out new verticals, making sure that you stay organized and communicative to your customers will make sure your brand never finds itself a lame duck.