Branding: Why are people loyal?

It is relatively easy to come up with a number of different reasons why people are loyal to something, whether another person, a product or a brand. Here are a number of common reasons:

  • the object satisfies a physical or virtual need no other object can satisfy
  • the object satisfies a physical need in a different way to other objects
  • it is to the customer's advantage
  • the object satisfies a psychological need

But true loyalty goes beyond rationality and businesslike matter-of-factness. One thing in particular separates successful loyalty schemes and programs from those less successful. And this is by no means always to do with money or type of product.

It is in fact sincerity. Just as true love cannot be bought, neither can customer's loyalty. Sometimes consumers let themselves be taken in for a while, or choose momentarily to suppress their feelings and instead make purchases based upon what are perceived to be the most rational reasons.

However, sooner or later they can no longer hold out against their feelings. Eventually they will decide no to select a brand they no longer want to be associated with, no matter how good the product or how attractive the brochures the company may produce. Most advertisements and brochures have been carefully designed and they have gone through several approval stages before they reach the customer. Anything controversial is removed, all errors are corrected. Only correctness remains. Devoid of any personality.

Without a heart and true commitment there is a great danger that it will all be perceived as a marketing gimmick which will be weighed and found wanting, regardless of how elegantly it may or may not be designed. Commitment and openness are not sufficient by themselves. The aim must be to create a personal dialogue which will be comparable to the dialogue that was known from the "old-fashioned village store"- a dialogue characterized by intimacy and knowledge.

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