Energy PR on manufacturing values and customer loyalty

Energy PR founder Louise Findlay-Wilson on what creates customer loyalty in the manufacturing sector and why values are important to consumers in 2022

Energy PR helps companies get clear about their values. It then helps them use these to shape and inform their marketing plans, develop their market position and build customer loyalty. Here the company’s MD, Louise Findlay-Wilson, explains why values are important to loyalty within the manufacturing sector in 2022.

What drives customer loyalty? Well according to our Brand Love study, it’s love. We’re three times more likely to recommend a brand we love and more than twice as likely to stick with it when it makes mistakes. That’s potentially doubling the typical lifetime value of a customer.

So if the secret to brand loyalty is love, how do brands achieve it? Well, while innovation may set a company apart from the pack, loved manufacturing brands aren’t necessarily the most innovative. Just one in 10 marketers we interviewed thinks innovation counts. Nor is love determined by price or customer support. These secured barely a third of votes. Instead, 55% of the 100 marketers we interviewed argue that loved brands  - which are the ones we’re loyal to - have values which are in sync with the customer’s values.

Indeed values are the biggest driver of love and loyalty. Yet so few manufacturers give this aspect of their business any attention. 

What do I mean by values?

With values what I mean is the ‘how you do, what you do.’ In 2022, with your customers overwhelmed by choice, ‘how you do’ might be your crucial competitive advantage. 

But before you dash off to look at your competitors’ values, I should say at this point that while you might ape a rival’s pricing policy or the look and feel of its products, values aren’t something you simply try on. Neither can you copy them from another successful company. To work, they need to be authentic. 

Although it will be impossible to come up with a value which is utterly new, your combination of values and the way they’re expressed needs to sound unique to you. They need to shape and inform your behaviour and they must be consistently applied.

 

Values-led businesses

Ben & Jerry’s is a good example of a values-led business. While the company is focused on making a sustainable profit and fantastic ice cream, its values go beyond this. In addition to those two goals, Ben & Jerrys want to use the business to try to make the world a better place through charitable work. To this end the Ben & Jerry’s Foundation which funds community projects was founded in 1985 and receives 7.5% of the company’s annual profits. It also looks to make a difference to the world through activism on topics such as climate change.

Office furniture manufacturer Herman Miller, has values which centre on a desire to leverage the power of design to improve people's lives. It wants to leave the world a little better than it found it. As a result it has clear environmental commitments to help customers, and sets annual goals for employee volunteer hours, with progress reported to the CEO.

Retail brand, Timpson’s approach is based on a culture of trust and kindness. The values are exemplified by its upside down management model where staff are called colleagues, given great training and then trusted to do things their way, rather than being nailed down by a lot of processes. These values also shape Timpson’s HR policy, with a tenth of Timpson employees being ex-offenders. Indeed at least seven of the group’s 2,000-plus stores are run by people still serving their sentences, who are able to work under day release schemes. 

 

Applying this to your manufacturing company

A business of any size can develop a values-led approach, but there are a few golden rules. Like Timpson, you must be authentic. It’s no good adopting values which aren’t your own just to appeal at a particular moment in time or fit with a trend. People will see through this.  

You must also be wholehearted and joined-up. It’s no good the marketing team talking values but the rest of the organisation seeing them as a gimmick. The power of the Timpson example is that the entire organisation – HR, management, marketing, and even the CEO gets and operates in accordance with the values. 

Lastly, at every touch point – online or face to face - the values need to be alive and demonstrated. Consistency is key.

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