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5 Customer Retention Strategies & Examples from the World’s Best Brands

Mathew Maniyamkott

Last Updated:  

31 May 2024

9 min read

Ever found a brand that feels less like a storefront and more like an old friend? That’s no accident—it’s stellar strategy in action. Some brands have this uncanny knack for making us feel right at home, ensuring we circle back time and again.

The actual truth is that retaining a customer is the holy grail for most businesses, especially because it is easy to keep an existing one but costlier to onboard a new customer.

How do they do it? Let’s venture on a little expedition together as we uncover the 5 ingenious customer retention examples from the world’s top-tier brands. Spoiler: it’s less about marketing jargon and more about genuine connections. Buckle up, and let’s dive deep into these brand love tales.

What is Customer Retention?

Ever wonder what ‘customer retention’ really means?

Let’s break it down. Imagine you’ve got this favorite cafe where you love coffee. You keep going back, right? That’s essentially what businesses want with their customers. Customer retention is all about how companies keep you coming back for more. Their game plan is to ensure you don’t switch to a competitor or stop using their service.

In a nutshell, Customer retention refers to the strategies and actions companies and organizations take to reduce the number of customer defections. In essence, it’s about keeping existing customers engaged and loyal to your brand or product rather than them choosing to go to a competitor or cease using your product/service altogether

Why Does It Matter?

Keeping an existing customer is often way more budget-friendly than finding a new one. Plus, loyal customers usually spend more and even bring in more people through word of mouth.

Retained customers signify trust and satisfaction, forging deeper connections with your brand. Their continued engagement often leads to increased profitability, as they purchase more and champion your brand to others. In essence, every retained customer is a testament to a brand’s promise delivered and a foundation for future success.

How to Gauge Customer Retention?

Most often, companies completely ignore the present customers, although they are usually promised ‘Account Managers’ who are glorified versions of a customer service representative. There is no initiative from their side unless a complaint is registered. This is why companies should proactively make sure with customer pulse surveys that the present customers are taken care of, and their expectations surpassed.

The first step to effectively retain customers is to understand what they expect, where you find yourself, and how invested you are to improve your position.

Starting your journey with thorough market research and timely feedback can make all the difference. Speaking of feedback, have you tried SurveySparrow?It’s a discreet yet powerful tool that seamlessly blends into your processes, helping you collect feedback efficiently.

Coming back to what we were discussing,  here are some of the best customer retention examples & strategies that the best brands have employed:

5 Best Customer Retention Examples & Strategies From Best Brands

Brand #1: Starbucks’ Customer Loyalty Program


customer retention strategy of starbucks

When discussing top-tier customer retention examples and strategies, Starbucks’ approach certainly deserves a spotlight

A study by Accenture said that 77% of customers participate in retail loyalty programs. It says that the average US household is enrolled in at least 19 to 29 loyalty programs at any point of time, although they actively use only 5 to 12 of them.

The American coffeehouse chain Starbucks, with more than 27,000 outlets around the world, has case studies revolving around its loyalty programs. On April 12, 2016, Starbucks redesigned its loyalty program ‘Starbucks Rewards’ to incentivize the high-spenders.

The coffee behemoth gave a plethora of benefits to members of its loyalty programs like the following:

  • 2 stars per $1 spent
  • Pay by phone
  • Free reward on birthdays
  • Facility to order in advance
  • Free in-store refills
  • Exclusive events and offers for members

In the earlier program, people were rewarded for each visit, meaning there wasn’t any difference between a low-spender and high-spender in terms of rewards. With the new customer retention strategies, the more they spend, the more stars they earn. There are tiers like Green and Gold for customers based on their usage, with various benefits for each of them.

What’s So Special About Starbucks’ Rewards Program?

Customers are eligible to get free stuff like refills, free birthday drinks, and the facility to pay from their phones before even arriving at the store. The user experience is pretty good as it engages the users and prods them to use it more.

A customer loyalty program such as Starbucks’ would also enable them to collect more data about their customers, which means that they can use it to serve them better. They also incentivized the high spenders, making them feel valued for spending their money with Starbucks. A lot of people downloaded the app and pre-loaded the app with cash. Apparently,  people are willing to spend more when they have an in-app balance!

Brand #2: Amazon’s Prime Memberships




Another big brand that sets a gold standard when it comes to exemplary strategies  and the best customer retention examples is, without any doubt, Amazon.

The online retail giant’s program might look like just another retention strategy that has deals and faster shipping but there are also a lot of additional benefits included in it. Apart from the promise of faster delivery, it also gives its customers access to streaming video services, music, ebooks, free delivery, and many other Amazon-specific products. More than 64% of households across the US have an Amazon Prime membership. That would make up to 80 million Prime members in the US alone.

Prime members are much more valuable to Amazon as they spend around $1300 on the e-commerce site while non-members only spend around $700 on average per year. There is a stickiness factor with Amazon because you can buy almost anything on their store, with the added benefits that cover nearly everyone with unique desires of their own, it is only normal that people prefer buying Prime memberships.

How Does Amazon’s Strategy Distinguish It from Competitors?

Moreover, these aspects set Amazon apart from its competitors.

Best Practices in E-commerce

A subscriber gets free shipping, and when you reduce the number of delivery days in a purchase, it would be impossible for a customer to feel unvalued. It also promotes impulsive buying as users know the product will be in their hands within two days. One cannot call Amazon Prime a customer loyalty program; it is more like a privileged program.

Using Data to Serve Better

For those customers who seek exclusivity, some offers are given only to Prime members. By giving Amazon Prime videos free for the subscribers, it can also understand what kind of programs customers want based on insights from the data they have. The bundling of such resources is what makes Amazon Prime tick.

Ensuring that Nothing is Lacking

Amazon leaves all of its competitors struggling behind because of the deals, smooth user interface, delivery speed, product availability, genuine sellers, and much more than it has at its disposal. Each factor is essential to a customer and when an e-commerce store is found lacking in one of these aspects, the customer would face a lot of headaches.

This is why Amazon keeps winning, and as a result, more people would subscribe to Amazon Prime for its additional benefits, thus strengthening the relationship with the customer.

Brand #3: Coca-Cola Retaining Customers Over the Years


coca cola customer retention strategies

If there is one brand that would remain consistently among of the top brands the world has ever seen, it has got to be Coca-Cola. They keep innovating when it comes to their strategy for connecting with their customers. The 135-year-old company continuously creates amazing experiences for its customers through its ads, events, or through product interaction.

Experiential Campaigns that Bring Customers Together

If you look at it closely, customers only care about a few basic things. That the product that they pay for is of the best quality is a fundamental requirement, while the next in line is good service and proper communication.

Coca-Cola has had an amazing run with its advertising campaigns over the years; one of its campaigns on college was its “Friendly Twist” bottle which can only be opened with the help of another person. The objective of this was to make first-year students at a university in Colombia bond.

Coke’s Ability to be Flexible Amid Concerns

The fact that Coca-Cola has maintained its image despite health concerns, economic changes throughout the world, alternating consumption patterns, and much more is a win in itself. When customers grew concerned about sugar consumption, it developed Coke Zero and Coke Life, both of which were well-appreciated by the health conscious; this ability to be flexible ensures that the brand never loses its crown.

To achieve all of this, Coca-Cola has spent millions on extensive marketing and stays well connected with its targeted customers. This is why there are so many brand advocates for Coke.

Brand #4: Costco’s Membership Card


customer retntion example from costco

Costco is a billion-dollar multinational corporation and one of the world’s largest retailers. Costco’s hassle-free online shopping and membership program, similar to Amazon Prime, make it a preferred choice for average Americans. Membership costs $60 to $120, depending on benefits.

Costco presents bulk-purchasing as the smartest decision members could make, owing to the steep discounts they offer. It encourages their customers to stock up on essential items by offering items in bulk. Young professionals these days associate buying bulk as a wise financial decision, an attitude that they developed after seeing their parents buy in bulk too.

Help Make Choices with Free Samples

Not only this, but even in the stores, they make sure they treat their customers in an inimitable way. Since each warehouse has all the items a household would need, it might get a little overwhelming for people to decide what to buy. To alleviate this problem, Costco employees offer free samples of various things to help the customers make sure that they are buying the best item on offer.

Making it Risk-free for Customers

With free samples and demos of electronic items, coupled with their 90 days return policy, it is impossible for a customer to make a buying mistake.

This keeps customers satisfied as they know that they will not be taken for a ride, thanks to a faulty product. They don’t mind offering an extra sample if you want to make sure that you have the right product.

The services don’t end here for members, they also get access to a huge range of other services like an optometrist, mechanic, mobile phone service provider, pharmacy, restaurant, and much more. The membership number was at 90.3 million in 2017 and it is no wonder.

Brand #5: Hilton’s Dogged Pursuit to Keep its Customers Happy


hilton customer retention examples

All big hospitality brands are known for keeping their customers fully satisfied and at Hilton, even more so. Even if you are not a member of its rewards program, you will still get the best treatment that is humanly possible.

Hilton, a renowned hospitality brand, prioritizes guest satisfaction. Remarkable treatment awaits all, whether rewards members or not.

For corporate travelers and Hilton regulars, the Honors program offers exclusive discounts and diverse experiences. Instant perks like free Wi-Fi, digital check-in, and event passes enhance stays.

Every day, Hilton strives to excel in guest service, aligned with its customer-centric mission. With a global presence of over 760,000 rooms in 100 countries, Hilton’s 98-year legacy enhances the appeal of the Honors program, allowing benefits redemption worldwide.

Targeted Service Increases Effectiveness

Their rewards system is specific to the customer activity and not just directed at anybody with a card. The offers depend on factors like how often they have stayed, demographics, partner payment cards the guest has used and other behavior patterns. A member can log in to the Honors site to check their status at any point in time including hotel transaction data, redeemable points, any special offers, eligible hotel rewards, and much more.

Reminding Customers Of What they Stand to Gain

Honors also send its guests personalized emails in response to their activities. This alerts them of the many perks including incentive points. The personal touch means that it encourages customer loyalty and promotes repeat business.Reiterating Honors perks like free stays, upgrades, miles increases members. Communication and service fuel this growth.

Wrapping Up

So, when you see the biggest brands in the world trying hard to retain their existing customers with their elaborate customer retention examples, you would, as a business, know how important it is to keep the present paying customers than vying for new ones alone.

Be in constant touch and listen to the voice of customers, get on a call with them to understand their pain points, and see if there is an opportunity for you to go beyond your call of duty to ensure and manage customer experience. You will be able to do good for yourself if you can replicate what some of these brands did.

Now that you have come across some of the best customer retention examples & strategies, it’s time you scale your business up with super cool strategies. Ultimately, it’s your brand’s impression on customers, and I’m sure you want it to be positive.

Looking for a customer retention tool? Sign up and see for your self.


Happy Retention!

Mathew Maniyamkott

Guest Blogger at SurveySparrow

Regular contributor to various magazines. Passionate about entrepreneurship, startups, marketing, and productivity.

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