I was interested to read the article in which Professor Ehrenburg of South Bank University states that it is difficult to influence customer loyalty (Alan Mitchell MW April 4).
I would agree, if he is talking purely about attempting to build loyalty through communications. But I would disagree in other respects. Being big might insulate you to a certain degree, but the days when big brands were protected by their size are gone.
The key to loyalty is consistent experience and keeping ahead of customer needs. Loyalty levels as represented in their huge advocacy ratings will protect players such as First Direct and the Co-operative Bank, and have sustained Marks & Spencer during the period when it forgot about creating an experience that customers wanted. In short, it’s very easy to destroy but less easy to build.
I guess it also depends on your definition of loyalty. Staying with a single brand over time might be more to do with apathy or lack of an alternative rather than pro-active choice, but no doubt this has been accounted for in the research.