The Myth of Loyalty

Summary:

Customer loyalty is a fantasy created by companies, consultants and marketing agencies.

Loyal dog cleans its own poop

You may train your dog to do this, but not your customers.

Customer loyalty is a fantasy created by companies, consultants and marketing agencies. So-called customer loyalty programs are often excellent marketing efforts. But, the responses they generate have nothing to do with loyalty.

I’m not knocking precision marketers, the soundness of their tactics, or their ability to get results. This is about the word LOYALTY and some hard-learned lessons about relationships between businesses and their customers.

These words are synonymous with loyalty (in no particular order): obedience, compliance, submission, nonresistance, passiveness, resignation, fealty, homage, devotion, fidelity. That’s the kind of customer we all dream about, but rarely meet in the flesh. That’s why business people lap up the promises of Loyalty Marketers.

Actually, customers like that do exist.  Most call them suckers, among other things. But most businessmen don’t want to think they are creating advanced marketing programs to extract those gullible people who passively (loyally) buy whatever is in front of them once they get to think a company is really great.

The discipline known as Loyalty Marketing makes customers respond to incentives (bribery marketing), generates warm feelings about earlier positive shopping experiences (Pavlovian marketing), and rewards shoppers for buying (doggie-treat marketing). But, your dogs are loyal – because they know they need you to feed them — your customers are not.