Loyalty. Loyalty Marketing isn’t a thing…

Within the context of this blog, we need to consider solely this excerpt from the definition – “faithful to a product.” But that doesn’t really tell us enough unless we now ask ourselves what “faithful” means –

“firm in adherence to promises or in observance of duty.”

Loyalty Marketing programs demonstrate an incredible level of arrogance by those who institute them. Since when should a customer be asked to have a firm adherence to their promises or to be firm in their observance of a duty? That’s the function of a contract. Are we to believe you are rewarding those customers who adhere to these promises? It’s ridiculous.

Let’s discuss these ‘rewards’. Discounts and special offers are terrific acquisition tools but as retention tactics, they are useless. They give away precious margin and completely dismiss any personal value a customer may have found in your brand. Loyalty is typically applied as a means to increase spend from existing customers. But it ignores the fact that value proposition is unique to an individual customer. You know what reward I enjoy most from my auto insurance company? The fact that I never hear from them…ever. No customer cares enough about your brand. I think Chewy is fantastic. As a marketer and customer, it is so clear that they see ‘loyalty’ as being their responsibility to earn, not the customers. They employ empathy and amazing customer service that I challenge any company to match. But if they went away tomorrow, I’d survive.

As Bob Hoffman has famously stated –

“There’s a widespread belief in our business that consumers are in love with brands. That consumers want to have brand experiences and brand relationships and be personally engaged with brands and read branded storytelling. People have shaky jobs and unstable families, they have illnesses, they have debts, they have washing machines that don’t work, they have funny things growing on their backs, they have kids that are unhappy, they have a lot of things to care deeply about. It’s very unwise to believe that they care deeply about our batteries, our wet wipes and our chicken strips***.”

What most companies are likely seeking is brand affinity, not loyalty. Affinity is defined as –

“likeness based on relationship or causal connection****.”

In other words, a preference. I prefer Silk’s cashew milk. If it went away tomorrow, I wouldn’t be mourning for a week. No relationship with a brand is ever that important and nobody ‘loves’ a product. I accept that this term is used loosely in a social context but the problem is…not enough companies understand this.

Stop creating loyalty programs and invest that money into an inbound call system that offers to call the customer back when it is their turn to speak with an agent (yes, this is a Martech – not an IT problem)*****.

Thanks for reading.


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