Loyalty is a marketing myth


Yesterday I went to IKEA to buy something for my kitchen. At the cashregister I was asked for my Family Card. Guess what: I didn’t have it with me. It must be in the kitchendrawer that I use for irregular items like elastic bands I might want to use in future, loose buttons, plastic bags, half a tube of glue and what not. I did have a loyalty card with me from Steps though, a shop I visit maybe twice a year.

I fear the marketers of IKEA and Steps will not consider me a loyal customer. Nor will all the other brands whose loyalty cards I have accepted and I don’t use.

Marketers introduce these cards because they want to create brand loyalty. Customers must feel valued and welcome within the brand community or family. The word Family Card is indeed very well chosen by IKEA . If I would have had the card with me yesterday I would have been able to get a free coffee with all the other Familymembers (do I really want to know them?) and could have benefited from several special offers (products I don’t need)

IKEA Nederland does incorporate social media in their marketing strategy. The company created a Facebookpage (127.842 likes) and answers questions from customers posted on FB in the same tone of voice as used in their publicity campaigns: straightforward and friendly. IKEA Nederland also has a Twitter-account (@IKEANederland). The account doesn’t seem to be very active. Except for announcements of their new campaign and promotions it shows tweets of people who use @IKEANederland, but no friendly responses. In fact, there don’t seem to be any two-way-communication between customer and company here. Complaints from customers of missing items are not answered and even the tweet of an influential member like Jan Dijkgraaf (more than 80.000 tweets, more than 7400 followers) who states the interviews in IKEA-magazine are fake doesn’t get an official comment.

Still, IKEA must belong to the 33% of companies that succeed in creating some kind of lasting relationship with its customers. Most brand loyalty campaigns however fail according to an American study because “companies often have dangerously wrong ideas about how best to engage with customers.” The study involving more than 7000 consumers states marketers hold on to three myths.

#1.Customers want to have relationships with brands.
77 percent don’t.
“It’s just a brand, not a member of my family.”
What consumers really want is to get discounts

#2 An increase in interactions is always the answer.
Many marketers are only adding to the information bombardment consumers feel as they shop a category, reducing stickiness rather than enhancing it

#3 Loyalty comes from regularly engaging with a brand.
Brand loyalty is built on shared values.
Pedigree Dog Food’s shared value is a belief that every dog deserves a loving home. Southwest Airlines’ shared value revolves around the democratization of air travel.

I do wonder, does anyone share a value with IKEA other than they sell cheap stuff ?

http://blogs.hbr.org/2012/05/three-myths-about-customer-eng/

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