Loyalty isn’t be all and end all

In his article “Affinity less critical than a presence” (MW February 14), Alan Mitchell does not need to travel as far as sunny Natal for a real insight and perspective on the loyalty “flavour of the month” issue. Perusing the business press demonstrates how many brands and retailers think loyalty is the only thing that matters and that achieving magic results is as simple as a points scheme, smartcard or incentive.

Ultimately however, this over-simplistic view is leading many to shoot themselves in the foot. Ever-increasing and more sophisticated marketing is causing greater promiscuity among consumers. A look over the shoulder of supermarket shoppers at the checkout shows that most carry at least two loyalty cards – one for each retailer within a reasonable car journey. This isn’t real loyalty, and suggests consumers are experiencing a dissonance of interest. They can’t actually be bothered to become emotionally involved because it’s boring when everyone is doing it.

We would argue that before anyone else leaps on the loyalty bandwagon it is time for a review of just what a brand is trying to achieve. Core values are vital to a brand’s success. If these are not right then no amount of promotional strategems will work. All they will do is lead to me-tooism. This means the attempt to do something different to get ahead of the pack ends up with everybody starting from a new, but essentially equal point of similarity.

So, don’t do it because everyone tells you to, work out whether it really should be part of your marketing strategy first.

Jonathan Fingerhut

Managing director

Fingerhut Associates

London NW3

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