Earning Affinity

michael harris match driveBrands earn loyalty on at least nine levels. By Michael Harris. We can all agree that loyal customers are of great value, however it is important to distinguish between loyalty marketing and brand loyalty. Ever since the 1980s, when data capture and manipulation could be automated and made cost-efficient, many companies and brands have confused the two. The critical question to ask is: Are consumers more loyal to the brand or the loyalty program? Loyalty marketing programs undoubtedly have their place and do provide specific benefits to brands (notably behavioral data), but enduring loyalty is earned rather than bought.

That’s easy to say, much harder to do. However, brands and businesses that have an intensely loyal and passionate following exhibit one or more of the following traits, starting with having a purpose. Brands that both have and clearly express an evocative reason for being — a feeling that if their brand didn’t exist we’d all be missing something — are also those with much greater levels of loyalty. Brands with real purpose don’t just have much greater customer loyalty; they also outperform their peers. According to research presented by General Mills CMO Mark Addicks at the 2013 Hub Brand-Experience Symposium, purpose-driven brands are growing at five times the rate of the market. continue


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