How can you build deep connections with your customers?

Engaging customers and increasing brand loyalty is achieved through building deeper connections with your target audience.

While you're probably familiar with using a psychological approach to engage customers, what often gets overlooked is the social and the cultural aspects of people's lives. By referencing cultural values and societal expectations, you can make your brand resonate much more deeply with your target audience. 

So how can you do that? Let’s take a look using a real example of a direct marketing campaign by a British supermarket. 

Understanding shared meanings and learned behaviours

Culture is largely invisible because we take it for granted. But it’s incredibly important because it governs so much of our behaviours and practices without us even realising. But what is culture? A nice short definition of culture that will do for our purposes is “shared meanings and learned behaviours”.

  • Shared meanings are, for example, the clothes we wear or the food we eat by which we conveys things about ourselves and others read those meanings. Such as the woman wearing designer sunglasses and expensive clothes, laden with shopping bags.
  • Learned behaviours are things we learn from an early age, from our parents and grandparents, about the social rules and the social norms. For example, queuing. If you queue jump in England, you will likely be admonished by your fellow queuers with tut-tuts, sighs, frowns, and so on. Society expects you to behave in a certain way.

Making a direct marketing campaign more powerful

The week before Easter a direct marketing campaign from Waitrose dropped through my letterbox. It was an eight-page brochure, beautifully designed, with the opportunity to enter two prize draws as well as money-off vouchers for some of my family's favourite and frequently-purchased food items tucked into the back inside pocket. But it didn't really speak to me as a customer. Why not?

Well, aside from eggs, cute bunnies, and chocolate, what springs to mind when we think about Easter? Most likely:

  • Four days off work to relax and unwind (we hope).
  • Food. What shall we eat?

If family members or friends are visiting over Easter, we might feel a little anxious: the social pressure to produce a delicious meal through which we communicate that we're successful, that we’re good parents, and so on. We might worry about which crockery to use (the best or the everyday?), which wine to serve, and whether we need to use a tablecloth or put flowers on the table. These are all social pressures – what society expects of us, how we are expected to behave according to social rules.

What does a loyal customer need from their favourite supermarket? Ideas about how she can serve up mouth-watering food quickly, with the minimum of fuss. While this was missing from the Waitrose direct marketing brochure, there were five pages in the latest Waitrose Food magazine of 'savvy' ideas to make entertaining friends and family 'a joy' over the long bank holiday weekend, with the emphasis on ‘easy', 'quick', ‘trouble-free, and ‘on the fly’.

So instead of wasting precious pages on prize draws, the Waitrose direct marketing brochure could have inspired customers with delicious ideas for easy but luxurious Easter dishes designed to dazzle. The weary working mother who wants to astonish her mother-in-law with her culinary prowess, despite being an under-confident cook. The grandmother who once loved entertaining but simply doesn't have the energy to cook for her family anymore, yet still wants to create a special dining experience so that her children and grandchildren will leave with fond memories of their Easter holiday with her.

And instead of providing money-off vouchers to spend on the everyday foods customers bought most often, why not offer vouchers for ingredients needed for the special-occasion easy-entertaining recipes. 

By addressing a social anxiety and offering solutions by way of their products or services, brands can connect far more deeply with their customers and increase customer loyalty.


If you want to connect more deeply with your customers, contact Mundy & Anson today.


Image credits: Photos of Waitrose Easter 2019 Direct Marketing Campaign and Waitrose Food Magazine April 2019 by Dawn Walter. Photo of people queuing for ice-cream by Florencia Viadana on Unsplash. Photo of woman holding shopping bags by on Unsplash.