Why are we loyal? And when we begin to understand loyalty, how do we foster and strengthen it? Moreover, how do we build loyalty from the ground up?
One of the reason I got into brand planning was the realization that a poor Appalachian dirt farmer with nary a pot to pizzle in will spend his hard earned cash on a premium brand of motor oil. Did his daddy suggest it’s the only oil to use? Did his favorite NASCAR driver sing its praises on ESPN? Was it promoted in the window of the store he bought soda pop in as a kid?
Here’s another question: Why do most college kids, after only 4 years, retain a level of loyalty toward their school not reserved for jobs, the towns they grew up in, or even a 20 year marriage?
These questions need to be analyzed, understood and acted upon. Consumers don’t become loyal to ads, direct marketing, PR or promotion. They may become loyal to a website, because websites are brand experiences or brand distribution channels (read Amazon, Zappos, Gawker), but loyalty to a message un uh. Bad marketing agents will tell you otherwise, but don’t listen — that’s not how you build long-term market share. Loyalty comes from other places. Trust. Consistency. Aspiration. Community. Pride.
At the end of every day, marketers need to leave the building asking themselves “What did I do today to strengthen brand loyalty?” If they don’t have an answer, they are losing ground. Peace!