Whether a company operates from within a B2B or B2C model, attracting and retaining brand-loyal customers is a universal business objective. While it’s a popular assumption that true brand loyalty stopped with the baby boomers, I’d argue differently. Millennials have tremendous spending potential, and tapping into that by winning over my generation’s loyalty is not mythical – it just requires a new approach from a modern marketer.
In fact, I myself just became a brand-loyal millennial to a product I haven’t even tried yet. You heard correctly, I just pledged my allegiance to something I have yet to test. Why, you ask? The brand, SJP Collection, has done such an amazing job marketing itself. I must disclose that I was preconditioned to liking this brand before my recent shopping experience. Like most women with a pulse, I’m a huge fan of Sex and the City. Carrie Bradshaw is my spirit animal – our hair, love for writing and obsession with shoes (I cried tears of joy over my first pair of Christian Louboutin’s) are just some of the things we have in common. So when the actress who played such an iconic character debuted her own shoe line, it was immediately on my radar.
It was more than my “fan girl” status that drew me to the SJP Collection. After hitting retailers over two years ago it took a special experience with the brand to convince me to buy, let alone convert me to a brand-loyal customer. Here are three key attributes from my experience that could also be emulated by any company:
1) Social Media Engagement: I think every marketing article has beat the importance of having a social presence to the death, so I’ll just get straight to the testimony. My shopping experience began the same as many millennials’: on social media. I’ve followed and admired the brand on Instagram for months. In fact, I have a personal relationship with Alyssa Arminio, SJP’s chief operating officer, and have really enjoyed the behind-the-scenes view of the brand I get from her personal social accounts. After seeing a picture of SJP’s gorgeous bridal curation for Kleinfeld’s in my Instagram feed, I decided to join the conversation and post a quick comment.
I had no intention to buy or even seek out the shoes, until I received a response from the brand’s official handle (@sjpcollection). The comment was quick and to the point, letting me know the name of the style I had referenced, and was signed with a kiss from “SJ”. It was this engagement – not just the brand’s presence on social media, alone – that led me down the marketing funnel towards purchase.
2) Authenticity: Unlike many celebrity-endorsed products, Sarah Jessica Parker did not just lend her name to a shoe line, but has tirelessly built the company through blood, sweat and tears (metaphorically, we’re not close like that). It’s not enough to have a good reputation these days: a company really needs to have a brand promise that they can wholeheartedly stand behind. SJP’s social media presence is an example of how the brand has been authentic – so much so, that InStyle presented Sarah Jessica Parker with an award for her involvement in social media. I was lucky enough to experience this authenticity first-hand. After receiving my reply on Instagram, I immediately pinged my friend Alyssa to thank her for the shout out. While Alyssa is very involved with the brand’s social media presence, she swears it wasn’t her behind the Instagram reply. I’ll wait while you connect the dots…Sarah Jessica Parker and I are Insta-BFFs.
3) Customer Experience: No matter what generation you may fall into, how employees treat customers can make or break brand loyalty. The customer experience I’m in the process of receiving is unparalleled. The shoes I’m now interested in purchasing for my wedding day are sold out everywhere. The SJP staff is going above and beyond by sending me a sample of the shoe to confirm I like the style, as well as a second pair of similar shoes in my size to verify the fit. To add another layer of personalization: this is all being sent by FedEx to my apartment, and if I like them, I can expect an autographed pair to eventually arrive at my door! While I’d like to think my special treatment is because Alyssa and I explored Ireland together back in 2009 (or my Insta-friendship with SJP), a quick glance at the brand’s social media page proves otherwise. You can even find pictures of Sarah Jessica Parker kneeling down to place shoes on the feet of adoring customers that aren’t me. And I’m okay with that.
My FedEx package has not yet arrived, but the care the SJP Collection brand has shown me thus far has already solidified my decision to do business with them. The fact that SJP partnered with George Malkemus III, CEO of Manolo Blahnik, to create the collection also doesn’t hurt. As Carrie Bradshaw would say, “I wanted to let you know that I’m getting married. To myself. I’m registered at Manolo Blahnik.”