Saturday, September 12, 2009

Consumer Insight : Customer Loyalty

This post is inspired by the article by Mr Prasad Sangemeshwaran in Brand Equity ( 09/09/09) titled "Goodbye Mr Loyalty". (Read it Here). I feel that the basic premise of the article is wrong.

The article starts with a very bold statement - " The Customer is Infidel" ( which is a nice attention grabbing technique). The author then went on to argue that the concept of customer loyalty is now a thing of past.

I feel that the author made an assumption that all marketers believe in customer loyalty. Customer Loyalty is a concept- an ideal state where the consumers keep coming back for your offering. Marketers know fully well that consumers will keep coming back for the offerings only if it satisfies the need continuously. Marketers are also aware that consumers are looking for new ways of fulfilling their desires.

The moment you think that consumers are permanently loyal to your brand, you are in a state of marketing myopia. Marketing myopia is a condition where marketers become too narrowly focused on the product rather than the consumer & his need. Why Nokia is highly successful in India is its constant endeavour to bring in new products in tune with the changing consumer needs. Even in the case of Nokia, it missed out the " touchscreen" mania and even the " smartphone" trend. Marketers today are more aware about the impact of disruptive innovations which can create havoc in the market. Successful brands today are focusing not only in meeting consumer needs but also in shaping those needs.

It is also wrong to say that in the past consumers were more loyal to brands. The choice before consumers in yesteryear's were very less forcing them to stick to certain brands. That is not an indication of loyal behavior.

Having said that, there are brands which are able to create not only brand loyals but also raving fans. Brands like Harley, Apple,Google,McDonalds, Disney etc are considered iconic because of its ability to create communities and fans. But even these brands needs to keep running very hard to keep those consumers from switching.

If Customer is the King, how can you expect him to be loyal ?