'Fun' UK companies enjoy customer loyalty boost

25 March 2019 Consultancy.uk 4 min. read

A study of consumer brands across the UK has revealed the firms which British customers believe are the most ‘fun’ in the country. Experience consumption was front-of-mind, with theme parks and holiday resorts dominating the ranking of 'most fun' firms in the UK.

In the hyper-competitive age of the internet, even top companies face an uphill challenge when it comes to holding onto customers through brand loyalty. Digital disruption has resulted in changes to consumer behaviour, which is forcing a range of marketing strategists to reconsider their old, possibly out-dated strategies. As modern customers wield an increasingly impressive array of digital tools and online databases, they and are now able to quickly and conveniently compare prices, check availability and read product reviews.

One way companies can cling on to their customers is by providing services and experiences which consumers consider ‘fun’, and as competition continues to heat up, this applies to all manner of companies – not just firms in the leisure sector. In order to help businesses of all shapes and sizes learn from the best practices of top performers, a new report from OC&C Strategy Consultants has revealed the firms in Britain which provide the most ‘fun’ to their customers.

Part of a global study of 40,000 consumers across 600 leisure and hospitality brands, the UK results of the OC&C Fundex have found that even as a host of pressures impact peoples’ spending power, consumers remain  committed to spending on ‘experience’ consumption. However, while it is arguably unsurprising that the positive sentiment of consumers regarding theme park Thorpe Park or holiday hubs Butlin’s or Royal Caribbean have helped consolidate sales of the troubled leisure market of the UK, the evidence also suggests this can have a positive impact on services in which experience is thought of as secondary to a physical product.

Top brands for ‘fun’ in the UK

The UK’s casual dining scene has seen a horrendous period over the last 12 months, with insolvencies booming in the sector. Bucking that trend, however, Five Guys now has more than 85 restaurants in the UK and its flagship store in Covent Garden outsells the American equivalent in New York by two to one. This is undoubtedly on the back of its reputation for innovative ‘fun’ experiences in its stores, including offering 250,000 possible combinations to order a burger at Five Guys, and over 1,000 possible ways to customise a milkshake.

Elsewhere, TGI Friday’s UK, saw a 66% increase specifically in loyalty member revenue and a 51% increase in new unique guest visits within the first four weeks of launching a new loyalty program in July 2018. The company is also known for offering experience-centric fast food service, something which has enabled it to perform strongly in both its fun ratings, and more importantly, economically. Among the broader UK pub and restaurant segment, in which TGI Friday’s competes, brands in the top fun quartile enjoy repeat monthly visits from nearly 30% of their guests; the same figure for the bottom quartile of brands is only 17%.

The findings from OC&C’s study subsequently highlight that an engaging and fun experience is an increasingly powerful way to encourage great reviews, help word-of-mouth marketing and drive repeat visits, all of which contribute to better financial performance. The firm identified four main ways that the most successful brands are creating more fun experiences for their guests.

First, guests typically have more fun if they can get away from more mundane, everyday experiences and try something new, so brands are encouraged to encourage guests to be a little more adventurous in their choices. Second, brands should capitalise on social media trends by providing an environment that brings people together and gets them talking in person and online. On top of this, the most fun brands have strong committed teams that are fully bought into what the brand represents. Finally, brands should be wary of slow service, inconsistent standards and poor value for money, all of which stop guests having fun.

David Foster, Associate Partner at OC&C, commented, “More fun brands typically benefit from a higher number of positive personal recommendations, better reviews and stronger brand loyalty… We’re also seeing a shift in generational behaviour. Millennials and Gen Z are the consumers of now and the future, and are increasingly demanding, less brand loyal and are preferring to spend money on experiences rather than products. Understanding how to offer more fun experiences should be a high priority for brands wanting to appeal more strongly to these generations and gain competitive advantage.”