Loyalty: a conversation, not a word

May 17

Loyalty: a conversation, not a word

loyalty is about me!


I politely reply “No thank you” to the cashier at the local Pharmacy after buying some vitamins. It was the 3rd time this month they’d asked me to sign up to their loyalty program. It’s not the last time I’ll say “No”, and hopefully I will still say “thank you”, or maybe I’ll eventually go to another pharmacy to just avoid being asked?!

We’ve undergone a profound shift in supply and demand – local retail once “owned” the customer purely based on proximity, habit and lack of choice – but retail is now experiencing attack on two fronts:

  1. The broad adoption of eCommerce and purchasing from the web
  2. Consumer shift to purchasing goods that can be shipped from a remote (even overseas) store in a handfull of days.

Given my career in internet commerce it’s amazing to see how little bricks and mortar understand the massive investment and effort driving innovation on the web. Amazon is not an accident and neither is the success of companies like Best Buy’s shift to online.

What companies like Best Buy understand is that loyalty is earned not deserved. The old sense of entitlement is now gone unless you are producing an extremely desirable brand experience over and over and over. Most marketers and old school retailers think that “customers belong to them” and that yelling above the crowd is the best way to win loyalty. (Recent bus shelter campaigns by Coles/Woolies using deeply discounted products to drive footfall.)

But I’ve got news….Retailers that survive and prosper relate to customers personally and provide meaningful value in each transaction.

So, back to my local Pharmacy – signing up means filling out a form with personal details:

  • Objection 1: Its time consuming
  • Objection 2: I don’t really understand the benefit
  • Objection 3: Sure, I shop here, but  we’re “still dating” – I’m not ready to take the relationship to the next level yet”
  • Objection 4: I REALLY don’t want to share my personal details just to get a discount that maybe I can get elsewhere if I had an efficient method to source deals efficiently**
  • Objection 5: Isn’t my repeat custom enough?

In other words “loyalty” is redefined on the shoppers term – as a retailer how loyal are you to your customers?

We’ve made loyalty implicit, we allow the retailer and shopper to know more about each other IMPLICITLY by the shoppers transactions and preferences – thats the start of a conversation.

** StreetHawk

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