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Tuesday, October 17

The One Way Street of Loyalty Cards

With orgainsed retail taking a lot of the print, TV and mindspace, there is a lot of talk about loyalty cards! including a piece in today's BS Strategist...

However, I feel that though the cards are catching up( I have about a dozen of them), the nuances of relationship marketing are not understood by most and ignored by the few who may have the understanding.

Before I discuss the subject of loyalty...let me share this brilliant book by Isabelle Szmigin( a senior lecturer in marketing at the University of Birmingham) called 'Understanding the Consumer'.

My take on the loyalty card jhol( togther with scoops of gyan from Isabelle)...
1. Invariably when we talk of customer loyalty, we mean a captive allegiance.

2. The customer is merely manipulated. Encouraged to think that there is a relationship, when actually there is none.(Isabelle)

3. In reality, Loyalty Management is CRM for the store/ company, loyalty is profitability management for the company, loyalty is increasing the foot-fall strategy. The consumer in reality is the last person whom the marketer really wants to benefit.

4.Why aren't we honest and up-front. Lets just call it a convenience card or incentive card...or any other more authentic nomenclature!

5. All relationship marketing takes a passive view of the consumer. The relationship is 99.9% shallow and is never nested in an understanding of their social context and evolving goals.(Isabelle)

6. There is also a more sinister aspect to these loyalty cards as they move into schools and colleges to influence the taste of children with a view to form relationships at an early age..(Isabelle)

7. Do we honestly believe that in an age where families are breaking down, divorce rates are high, instances of multiple relationships(parallel and not just sequential) is on the rise, we can actually build loyalty through plastic and reward points!!

8. If the store staff is not helpful, if the AC in the store invariably never works, if you fail to recognise the customer whenever she comes to return a defective item, if you never suprise or delight your regular customers....a piece of plastic is never going to build any loyalty for your brand! Its just a 7 letter jargon...

9. I feel as marketers and communication guys, we are getting de-sensitised with the reckless use of concepts like customer engagement, customer affinity, loyalty, reward...We must not abuse them as gimmicks or mere words...sans any meaning or intent!

Let me end the post with a quote I found in Isabelle's book from a letter to the editor of NYT.
"Dear Sir, I have seven loyalty cards. Does that make me more loyal or less" :-)

1 comment:

Hiren said...

Well, all this talk of customer loayality decieves when you don't have the most important thing is management- common sense
Cust-se-mar- Customer

Read Peter Drucker's "Innovation and Enteruprenurship". It gives an excellent insight into what "value for service" is in the eyes of the customer.