November 03, 2015


It is one of those buzzwords that hooks marketers.

Seriously ... think about it ... if given the choice between trying to encourage a customer to become loyal, or acquire a new customer, 90 out of 100 marketers will pick the former. We all like to think we're nurturing some poor soul on her theoretical journey from first-time buyer to brand advocate who is unable to do anything but tweet out gushing brand sentiments on an hourly basis.

Now spend a few minutes thinking about all of the loyalty programs out there. I know, it's nearly impossible to consider how many there are, because they're literally uncountable!

And yet, these loyalty programs are virtually feckless, aren't they?

If they worked, then retailers who employ them would see unfettered gains in sales and profit. But that doesn't happen, does it?

If they worked, airlines would enjoy increased ridership and profit. Instead, frequent flier programs don't appear to help much, because airlines are constantly consolidating.

I know, I know, you're going to suggest that loyalty programs cannot work if the product they support isn't compelling.

But isn't that the key to the whole thing? Instead of marketing loyalty, shouldn't we be marketing products and merchandise that cause loyalty to happen?

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