How To Retain & Build Brand Loyalty During COVID-19

Think about your favorite cereal. Or the shoes you wear. Or the toothpaste you use.

Why did you buy it?

Was it because you did extensive research, weighed out all the pros and cons, and made an informed, educated decision? Or was it more of a non-conscious decision? Chances are, you purchased based on brand loyalty. You know what you like, and that product delivers every time. You know what you’re getting and might even be willing to pay juuuuust a little more than a generic product or a competitor’s product.

Think back to that cereal example. Picture yourself in your local grocery store of choice but not being able to find your favorite brand. You have a few options:

  1. Buy a competitor’s brand, even if it costs more money
  2. Buy a generic brand and save some money
  3. Visit another store to find your favorite brand
  4. Don’t buy any cereal and be sad/hungry

It’s fair to cross off option 4. In the past, option 3 doesn’t sound crazy. Nowadays, do you really want to go into another store and possibly be exposed to the virus? Your best bet at this point is either option 1 or 2.

Customers’ wants and needs are being impacted by availability more than ever. In the past, brand loyalty could fight off availability (think option 3). Now, customers are more likely to shed their favorite products or brands if they are not easily accessible. Worst case scenario for the brand that they’re looking for but can’t find: they try the competitor’s product and never switch back. Which, ironically, is also the best-case scenario for the competitor.

Food Business News reports that 65% of grocery consumers have tried new brands during quarantine. Of those, 79% say it was due to their usual product not being available.

Customer Retention & Customer Acquisition During COVID-19

It’s said that consumers are three times more likely to purchase a product when they think about it beforehand. For example: you make a grocery list and check off the items as you put them in your cart.

While that seems trivial, it actually plays a part in the path to purchase journey – sometimes referred to as the consumer decision journey or consumer buying process. Whatever you call it, there are five main steps: Awareness, Consideration, Evaluation, Purchase, Advocacy.

Brands must provide valuable content at each step of this path in order to gain new customers. That content can explain product benefits and advantages, pricing, brand loyalty rewards, and more.  Loyal customers usually jump right to step number four and purchase. They are already aware of your product, have considered and evaluated alternatives, and simply buy it.

It’s no secret that customer retention is easier than customer acquisition. In other words, it’s easier to keep loyal customers than to get new customers. And it’s much cheaper.

In fact, a business strategy guide from Outbound Engine points out that it can cost five times more to get a new customer rather than selling to a current customer. Plus, the likelihood of a new customer buying is just 5-20% compared to 60-70% of current customers making a purchase.

However, since your product may not be as readily available or accessible as in the past, it may make sense to treat all customers as new customers! Your competitors are trying to wrangle your loyal customers away. Now is the time to remind them why they’ve chosen your brand in the past and persuade them to stay loyal moving forward.

So, how do marketing and advertising come into play in terms of customer retention and acquisition during the pandemic? A lot of it has to do with messaging and execution.


Believe it or not, consumers are craving solutions from businesses more than ever. Now is NOT the time to pull advertising and marketing. Constant communication to consumers is crucial (unintended alliteration). Messaging comes in many different forms, all of which can address consumers’ needs:

Emails – This is a great way to share company information with your customers. Let them know how your business is handling the pandemic and the measures taking place to protect your employees and customers.

Instant Messages – No, not old school instant messaging like AIM. Think text messages and in-app messages. These could announce special time-sensitive deals, when customers’ orders are ready, brand loyalty rewards, and more.

Video (Television, Connected TV, Streaming, etc) – People are consuming more video content than ever before. Be sure to promote the right type of message – with the correct length and format – depending on the platform you choose!

Audio (Radio, Streaming, In-App, etc.) – Like video, audio advertising is seeing a surge. Also like video advertising, you need to have the right mix of messaging and formatting depending on where your target audience is consuming audio content.

Storefront / In-Store Displays – Want your customers to follow guidelines in your store? You better lay out the rules. In-store displays can promote special offers and further direct customers on how to easily purchase.


Can you deliver on your promises? How are you ensuring the safety of your employees and customers? Like it or not, the future is going to be changed from this experience. Consumers are going to look for convenience and as little human contact as possible. A redesign of your store, improvements to your online capabilities, and other tactical changes will help your business execute the future of business moving forward.

As states begin to open back up and as things start to get back to “normal,” one thing is for sure: the prepared will prosper. Businesses that are prepared and act proactively instead of reactively will be far better equipped to retain and attract customers.

Will your business be prepared? Have any questions about how brand loyalty will impact your future? Need help putting together a plan? Contact Jay Marketing and Communications today!

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