How to Leverage Innovation to Build Customer Loyalty

Although consumer loyalty is the golden goal of every brand, it can be hard to achieve. Just a year ago, the EY Future Consumer Index found that a mere 10% of U.S. consumers completely trust retailers, and only 13% completely trust consumer packaged goods (CPG) brands.1 As consumer health and wellness increasingly includes retailers, CPG companies, and other new entrants, the climb to gain lasting loyalty may be steep, but it’s not impossible. Consumer health brands that leverage innovation to not just sell a product, but offer a comprehensive strategy to help consumers eat, work, play, and live better, will earn trust.

First, brands should aim to build loyalty throughout the customer journey via individualized experiences. Consumer health companies need to craft a consumer experience that is highly personalized, with a message tailored to the individual. A transaction may be the end goal, but it represents a beginning, not an end to the relationship. The goal is to design a system that meets the needs of the consumer rather than bending the consumer to the system, as traditional healthcare has often done.

Companies should collect data and research that can inform their operating model and retail strategy. Neutrogena, for example, sent personalized social media messages to prospective buyers based on their interests, exact location, and real-time air pollution exposure to increase their awareness about their Deep Clean skincare products. This proactive, customer-centric marketing provided a solution people in high-pollution areas didn’t even know they needed and created brand loyalty so strong it reversed the brand’s four-year sales decline.

Meet Consumers’ Needs in Real Time

Additionally, companies that display flexibility in real time, and demonstrate an awareness of consumers’ needs, will be in a better position to earn trust. In the health sector, this becomes an imperative at times, such as during a global pandemic.

In 2020 Mucinex, a cough and cold medication, collaborated with Kinsa, a healthcare technology company known for smart thermometers, to leverage predictive data to inform its nationwide supply chain. The goal was to direct health advice to where and when consumers needed it most. Mucinex’s GeoVitalPredictor grew from worries about conflicting healthcare messages and access to basic supplies in the early stages of COVID-19. The Kinsa system used an internet-connected smart thermometer to guide users to the care they need to get better faster. Mucinex then used the findings to identify where medicine was needed most so it could direct supplies to retail locations in counties where outbreaks were happening.

The next generation of consumer health brands must be innovative and quickly adapt to changing consumer needs. Companies that convey a sense of working in real time will be viewed as brands that can be counted on to help consumers mitigate health risks and concerns. While there is no finish line in the race to win consumer trust, those who can see their business through the eyes of their customers, and adapt as needed, can build enduring loyalty.



  • Miguel Duarte

    Miguel Duarte is the EY U.S. Consumer Health Leader, where he advises healthcare and life sciences organizations on transforming their enterprises through a consumer-oriented lens. Miguel focuses his efforts on a growth agenda for the consumer health and life sciences markets in the U.S. He connects the latest market insights with C-suite concerns and ambitions to provoke new industry thinking.


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