When you want emotional attachment from your customers, project authenticity. For certain sorts of products and services, authenticity of the retailer is especially important to the consumer. Think surfers, skateboarders, and snowboarders. Researchers at University of Bath, Australia's Monash University, and University of Adelaide conducted comprehensive interviews with a selection of such consumers and learned that for these folks, authenticity gives a sense of kinship.
For more mundane products, like coffee, the importance of authenticity and a sense of kinship come from the context in which the product is provided. Researchers at University of Wisconsin-Madison document how Starbucks is suffering from a negative image in which the company's branding of the shops as an authentic coffee experience has come around to haunt Starbucks. Many customers, after being convinced of the importance of authenticity, decided Starbucks was bragging too much about their ability to be authentic. In some cases, what got in the way was that Starbucks wasn't local enough.
The implication for you: If you want to form an emotional attachment, give a sense of family to your customers, but be sure to do it in an authentic way.
That's true not just for certain retailer-to-consumer relationships, but also for certain retailer-to-business (B2B) relationships. According to research at University of Geneva, there are two dimensions to a business-to-business expectation. One type is called "secure business attachment." Your B2B customer may want to rely on you for quick answers to questions about purchases made from your business and for quick solutions to problems with purchases. Very businesslike. The researchers called the other type "close business attachment." Your B2B customers may want to develop close personal bonds with you or with your outside sales agent, exchanging information about family and friends.
Some retailers say, "Make our customers feel like family." I prefer, "Give a sense of family" because research findings seem clear that for maximum profitability, you want to be sure to keep the interactions as a business relationship. Don't promise more than you'll deliver. That wouldn't be authentic.
Click below for more:
Brag About Your Retailing Humility
Give Your Retailing Local Quality
Learn the Relationship B2B Customers Want