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But How Loyal is Loyal Anyway? The Maritz / Wise Marketer Report

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By: Mike Giambattista, CLMP |

Posted on March 19, 2018

New research suggests the answers are more complex than ever, but agile brands have rare opportunities to gain.

By Mike Giambattista

We’re the in business of business media – loyalty marketing media, specifically.  In this position we see our fair share of research.  We see our fair share of commentary on that research and our fair share of hyperbole on that same research.  That last item is significant if only because we are very, very aware of, and attuned to people who are doing the real thing.  That is to say, people who purposely eschew the promote-ability of their findings in favor of letting the numbers speak for themselves.  It’s also why we’re very proud of our first research partnership with Maritz Motivation Solutions (MMS) – The Loyalty Landscape.

Entitled “From Transient to Resolute: How Deep Does Loyalty Go?”, the study surveyed more than 2000 US consumers during mid-2017 to assess levels, types and variants of brand loyalty.  The findings, revealed last week at the 3rd Annual Loyalty Academy Conference, were broken down along lines corresponding to consumer propensity for loyalty. On the top line, 68% of consumers identify as “transient” loyalists, saying they can be convinced to buy a competitor’s brand. Just 29% of consumers identify as “resolute” loyalists, those who buy only their favorite brands. 3% say they are “detached,” not loyal to brands at all.

As a practicing, data-driven, customer loyalty marketing professional, what could you do with that line of data alone?  So many of us have become accustomed to looking at customer data through a specific, and probably comfortable, lens.  One of the most interesting aspects of this report is that its forces us to view the dataset from a different perspective.  And that has us thinking about how to make the findings actionable in new ways.

Barry Kirk, VP of Loyalty Strategy at MMS and one of the authors of the study, found significant wisdom in the numbers that sparked a future-state vision for customer loyalty.  “What we see in this data is a clear message that loyalty is no longer a simple binary consideration. It’s not just a matter of being loyal or not loyal, but how loyal.  And for brands that develop strategies to shift their transient loyalist to being resolutely loyal, there are huge benefits to be enjoyed.”

When asked what types of brand incentives consumers prefer in exchange for maintaining their loyalty, discounts, promotions and rebates were viewed as the strongest incentives. Each was far more preferred by those consumers whose loyalty is the most susceptible to disruption (65% for Transients, but only 48% for Resolutes). Resolute loyalists felt a stronger attraction to great products and consumer experiences (40%) than their Transient counterparts (31%). When asked about their primary reason for switching brands in a category, price was cited by only 41% of Resolutes, but by 57% of Transients.

How will brands navigate this new terrain? The savviest of them will realign their loyalty value propositions by:

  1. Elevating the customer experience through and artificial intelligence (AI).
  2. Adapting their platforms to foster trust and commitment, not just drive transactions.
  3. Creating more meaningful ways to recognize and reward best customers.

The factoids highlighted here represent the proverbial tip of the iceberg.

Special thanks to Barry Kirk, Maritz Motivation Solutions, and Mike Capizzi, Director of Education Loyalty Academy, for their contributions to interpret the research findings.

Mike Giambattista is Editor in Chief at The Wise Marketer and is a Certified Loyalty Marketing Professional (CLMP).