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Airlines and autos win UAE consumers’ loyalty

Brands need to go extra mile for committed followers and get them to convince others

Image Credit: Arshad Ali/ Gulf News Archives
An advertisement of Emirates in Deira, Dubai. Emirates users frequently recommend the airline to their friends — as do Porschedrivers. But fewer telecoms users advocate the services they use.
Gulf News

Dubai: For brands it’s no longer enough to win and retain a loyal consumer base. To go that extra distance in the age of instant views shared within social media peer groups, brands must get these ‘loyalists’ to put in the good word about them.

In simple enough terms, it is no longer enough to ‘like’ a brand, that appreciation needs to get shared as well.

On this count, some brands have managed to win themselves strong advocates in the UAE. in this regard, Emirates airline was a brand that gets highly recommended by its users to their peers, as was the Porsche sports car marque, according to a survey done by AMRB, the Dubai-based market research firm. Both had scores of plus 90 on an index that tracked feedback from -100 to 100.

But brand advocacy among UAE consumers dipped within the telecom space, the survey adds. In all, AMRB tracked 2,660 responses were collected from Dubai, Sharjah and Abu Dhabi on five ‘verticals’ — airlines, credit cards, telecom services, bank accounts and premium cars.

There are clear preferences for Emirates airline, Qatar Airways, ADCB, Union National Bank, Porsche, Jaguar and Audi within their respective sectors.

“Within the five verticals, airlines and premium automotive brands seem to be doing better at generating customer loyalty and advocacy,” said Gagan Bhalla, CEO of AMRB. “Perhaps this is a function of greater emphasis being placed on the customer experience within these sectors.

“Our own experience also has been that many of these brands have put in place extensive programmes to monitor customer experience on a continuous basis, and swift action is taken to address any issue that might lead to a customer getting dissatisfied.”

To come up with the numbers for the ‘net promoter score’ index, AMRB assigns scores for consumer experience with a brand on a -100 to 100 scale.

Based on the net promoter score, brand customers are divided into three categories — promoters, passives and detractors. A positive score would indicate that the brand has a higher proportion of promoters as compared to detractors. This is the second annual NPS I+ study taken on by AMRB.

“A higher NPS is related to higher actual recommendation by the brand promoter and results in repeat purchase,” said Bhalla. “It thus helps brands to ensure customers’ are not just mute loyalists, but should go out and speak positively about the brand.

“This is especially important in today’s world, as customers are connected all the time and have various social media channels on which to air their views and opinions.”


Making brand advocates out of loyalists

* What drives brand advocacy can change from one category to another depending on a consumer’s level of involvement. “While consumers place more importance on in-flight experience for an airline, for mobile services, he may not be so focused on experience but could be more price driven and, hence, offers/ promotions hold the key to brand advocacy,” said Gagan Bhalla of AMRB.

* There is a clear linkage between propensity to recommend and repeat purchase – this means identifying brand ‘promoters’ is key to building incremental volume for any brand.

* On average, airlines and auto brands scored 46 each in the Net Promoter Score Index, while it dipped to 5 for telecom services and was at 15 for retail. banks. For credit card issuers, it was 14.