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Customer loyalty is becoming increasingly fickle in the internet age, Sagar Boke, head of marketing and business head (spices) at Tata Chemicals, said on Tuesday.

Boke was speaking at the ninth edition of HT Brand Studio Live—a series that gets the brains behind India’s top brands to decode marketing innovations and more. The event is co-hosted by HT Brand Studio and DMAasia.

This time, the theme was Building Brand Affinity. The show thus sought to decipher how businesses can establish a deeper and more emotional connection with customers—especially when more and more brands are fighting for their attention online.

The episode was also the second of the five episodes webcast from the iconic BSE in Mumbai instead of the HT newsroom.

“Digital has given rise to a plethora of choices, because of which customer loyalty has become fickle," said Boke, while also highlighting that brands can engage better with consumers by keeping the communication “conversational".

“When you pick a conversational thread, customers immediately get interested. The conversation also has to be relevant to the consumer," Boke added. In this regard, he cited the example of Tata Salt’s #MissingI Campaign, under which the letter ‘I’ was taken off from tweets to news headlines to create awareness about the importance of iodine in our diets.

The importance of keeping the brand narrative customer-centric was also emphasized by UPES' chief commercial officer Subhrangshu Neogi. “Marketing is all about creating conversations—that is when true brand experiences are created," he said.

According to Neogi, unless brands leverage the 4Ps, which are philosophy, purpose, people, and processes, they will not be able to effectively engage a consumer.

On how brands can go about retaining customers, Ajay Row, partner for CRM, Martech and Data at DAN Network, said: “When looking at a customer, there are two things to keep in mind—how likely he is going to remain with a brand and how likely he is going to give it profit." The equation that emerged at the end of the discussion was: engagement drives loyalty, which, in turn, drives rewards.

Customer trust and loyalty are also key elements in the home healthcare space. Talking about the same, Piyush Bhargava, chief marketing officer at Nightingales Home Health Services, said: “Home healthcare is a high-involvement category. We are changing the game there by giving customers what they want; we are trying to build a business that is reliable and trustworthy."

A unique twist to the definition of customer loyalty was given by Amit Sarda, managing director of Soulflower. According to him, this is also the ‘Tinder age’, where everybody wants everything quickly; therefore, brands have no other choice but to live up to this expectation.

“Customer loyalty is like mercury—when a brand is hot, the mercury level is up. And, when the brand is cold, the mercury level is down," he said, before shedding light on how a brand like Soulflower, which is in the business of aromatic oils, goes about acquiring and retaining customers.

The show ended with Rajiv Bansal, CEO of HT Digital Streams, highlighting customer-driven strategies in the news industry. “At Hindustan Times Digital, personalization of news is one of the strategic pillars of consumer engagement," he said.

The other pillars include growing the vernacular user base, boosting video storytelling, and opting for a subscription-based business model.

To watch the previous episodes of Brand Studio Live, click here

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