What about Brand Loyalty?
Brand loyalty is a term that gets much attention from the pundits and gurus across the world of marketing. One often comes across tips and ideas on the subject of brand loyalty. The subject of many conferences and keynote speeches.
We would like to present a contrarian view on the topic of Brand of Loyalty.
Let us begin with an understanding of the term Loyalty
Loyalty is derived from Loyal. The online dictionary defines ‘loyal’ as “giving or showing firm and constant support or allegiance to a person or institution.”
One more term that needs to be mentioned here is to ‘be faithful’.
Who does someone in the name of loyalty give faithful allegiance to?
- One’s government
- A private person, say a wife or a husband
- One’s religion
- We could add to the list some social groups like a political party or a gang
Now imagine a bottle of ketchup or diapers on that list. It doesn’t quite fit in, does it?
What about the cult brands? We are talking about Apple, Harley Davidson and so on. Even though this would be an exception and not the norm, yet one would not place the term loyalty here.
It is a preference
Because the product suits a lifestyle that the person identifies with and is loyal to.
People did not take to a life of gang comraderies because Harley came into existence. It was simply that the time for horses was over and a Harley was a good replacement for that.
A Harley is an important accessory because it fits the need of a certain lifestyle. However, it did not give birth to that lifestyle, neither would that lifestyle perish if Harley were to shut shop. The reason Harley was chosen was because the audience wanted an American Bike. Japan and Japanese products were the enemy around the second world war. An army surplus Harley was affordable. The story started with the aforementioned reasons and what helped was Harley as a company doing a good job of taking it ahead productively.
The question arises: Would one use one Harley if it were to cost kidneys.
Would one do that for a partner?
- A much better chance of yes
Every relationship survives on the basis of the implicit value exchange it holds. Products are exchanged with money and the best one could expect is a preference over another product.
It is too much of an ask to expect loyalty when you are clearly in the equation to make a profit.
Yes, high ticket, high involvement products such a mobile phone, laptops, cars do enjoy a more involved purchase interest from the customer. The choice itself is made based on category, value, availability, and status. This has not much to do with loyalty.
Apple would never make a phone as cheap as Samsung does. It will never give out hundred-dollar phones. While the IOS may appear as the superior platform, the majority of the purchases happen owing to the status symbol that an iPhone brings. Let Apple start bringing in a range of cheap phones and those status-oriented customers shall go away.
Where is the loyalty in that?
To conclude Loyalty and the basis required to form it are driven by some very important social institutions like Family and Government. To compare this with a product is fallacy. Someone would not take 10% of the crap from a brand, she or he would tolerate it from their children.
While advertising started with the idea to inform about a product or service being in existence, today it is all about being better than the competition.
What should one do?
Look at emotions
Do not try to find loyal slaves but look for emotional munchkins. We all are suckers for emotions.
Just as you cannot ask for a 500-dollar loan from a neighbour the day you move into a new house, wait for it. Build that relationship over a period of time. No free lunches, you have to invest in the relationship. Brand building is a long-term process, with all its hacks and tacks. Facebook that provides such a carnal facility of voyeurism took 6 years before making a serious presence.
Consistent quality effort over a period of time does it. And finally there are other variables in marketing placement, packaging, and price. Do not underestimate those.
The last time you chose to buy milk, spices and tuna were all decided by the shelves they were in at the shop that was the most conveniently located. Nobody drove an extra 2 KM to pick up their favourite brand of milk.