If I’m being brutally honest, I hate the word “loyalty” when it comes to consumer purchasing habits. Why? Well, the presence of customer loyalty presumes the existence of disloyalty. And that just feels gross. IDK.
When we invest in “loyalty” what we’re trying to elicit is for a customer to behave irrationally: to put aside cheaper, more convenient purchases in favor of a longer-term benefit. I write this as I am about to head out to see The Batman, despite having been fully spoiled on the movie. We’ll be dropping our kids at a coding bootcamp tonight on the way — except, it’s not on the way. Despite there being a movie theater less than a mile from the code camp, we’ll instead drive 20 minutes across town to a Regal Cinemas, where we have built up a bevy of points and awards. On top of the 3 hour runtime of the film, we’ll also incur a 40 minute round-trip, wear and tear on our car, and who-knows-how-much expense due to skyrocketing gas prices.
All for a free small popcorn for every $100 we spend.
It’s irrational, but I can’t for the life of me come up with a single thing that Regal has done for us that created that loyalty. They don’t do any one thing particularly well. We don’t have the mobile app installed, or notifications enabled. We don’t receive emails. We don’t play the AR game they plug pre-show. I honestly just don’t know why we keep going back.
My loyalty to Regal is irrational. Customers loyalty to your brand may be irrational, as well. It’s nuanced — it could have deep ties to nostalgia; the theater where you took your spouse on a first date, for instance. It could be that we revert to defaults — Amazon becomes the “I need something” platform, not just a shopping engine. Push Button. Product Arrive. Caveman-brain-like.
Thinking deeper about it, Regal didn’t do anything to earn our loyalty. I can’t help but think that somewhere there’s a marketer who thinks that their work contributed to my LTV as a repeat customer. Yet, we spend a good deal of our time as marketers working to create that kind of subliminal, emotional, loyalty. If such a thing were even possible, for you to Jedi Mind Trick a customer into long-term irrational behavior, you would be heralded as a brilliant marketer executing a well-crafted strategy.
It sounds more like hypnosis or a magic trick, but in reality, all you did was install a Shopify app.
Rather than try to push a customer into a behavior and taking credit for your brilliance, perhaps a bit of humility on part of the marketer is necessary. In reality, customer behavior is often irrational. Sometimes that works to our benefit; most often it does not.
If you want more on irrational behaviors, this week on the podcast we hop a squat with Tushy’s co-founder, Miki Agrawal, to talk about how irrational it is that we keep wiping our butts with dead trees. Take a listen over here.
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