The brain mechanics of loyalty

Loyalty and loyalty programs have been surfacing a lot in our client work, it’s a pretty simple reason why; no one is sure what they mean, if they work or what they should be doing with them.

The core challenge is that the notion of loyalty is massively misunderstood and thus underserved. Loyalty comes from how you serve me and what with - I have covered the way that brand works inside the brain the same way a real life friend relationship, here it is in case you missed it - and how relevant & consistent that experience becomes is the key to loyalty.

What is relevance in the sphere of loyalty?

Consider that you’ve got me in your program for a reason, I like you, you should know why I like you. As soon as you stop behaving like you know me, I care less and less about you.

This is so, so, so common, the industry drops loyalty communications into the same bucket as general communications. You might get away with mud sticking strategies in standard email and digital advertising but in loyalty programs it pisses the customers off.

You will have felt this as an individual ‘grrrr, don’t they know me, why are they sending this crap!’.

Isn’t it funny how often you will have a chat in your day to day life about loyalty programs, more so than raising a normal piece of comms. That’s the reason why, loyalty programs should feel more personal to you, more relevant AND we take it much more personally, hence we talk about it more than other marketing that we receive.

Loyalty, like with friends, is you giving something to someone else; trust.

In return we expect the same back, I expect you to look after me, to get me as I get you.

When you start sending me irrelevant content, offers and product I react far worse when it’s about the loyalty program. It’s a paradox as misunderstood and thus poor execution of a loyalty program pushes people away instead of pulling them in.

That’s one of the biggest flaws on loyalty programs, a second is that we focus too much on functional perceived gains.

If I like your product, it holds a deep emotional meaning to me, it is something that helps me feel a sense of identity. So why do we make it all too often about price or a disconnected reward?

If you sell on price, I think of price. Do this with no context of what matters to me and it will get you limited engagement.

If you reward me with say Air Miles but sell clothing, I think about Air Miles not your product or brand.

Don’t get me wrong; discounts are nice, rewards are fantastic but it’s about what you are putting front and center of the experience; loyalty is emotional.

If you sell emotional gains & emotional rewards, I feel the brand. Add in some consistency to what I want from your brand, what i prefer and why and you will have loyalty down.

In summary. For all clients, I recommend using the exclusivity psychological principle. It’s as it sounds, less about price and disconnected rewards, more about relevance of experience, early birds access and 1:1 engagement. Loyalty is inside us, don’t treat me as I treat you and I’ll bounce, I have better experiences and am thought of better in those places.

The last part is very true, we switch brands as much for how we are treated as much as association to product. We have every right to do this as a customer, our loyalty is earned not bought.

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