Thursday, October 11, 2012

Is Customer Loyalty A Myth?

Customer loyalty is a goal any companies is willing to achieve. All companies know how pricy the aquisition of one new prospect may be, and companies would rather make sure they keep a strong loyal customer base, securing their revenue flows at the same time.

Customer loyalty strategies have been set up when markets started to become mature, and as the "external growth opportunities" were starting to shrink. A bunch of strategies and tools are available to marketers in order to trigger customer retention or loyalty: Loyalty reward programs, data mining, create emotional bond with one brand...

But we all know, as marketing managers, it is tough to accomplish. 

I read a very interesting article not so long ago in French Newspaper website Le Monde, which questions the whole concept of customer loyalty. Indeed, Andrew Ehrenberg demonstrated while ago that customers tend in a natural way not to stick with one brand. On the long run, according to the article, only 5% of people remain loyal to one product on a one year basis.

Nevertheless the natural unloyalty of customers needs to be counterbalanced by the fact that loyal customers are the ones who built the profitability of one company. They are the one who counts for 80% of the business, and most of the time, for 80% or more of the profits.

The article does not really give any answers to this question. But the question is right to be set. Especially during economical crisis, customers are eager to find the best deal, more than securing quality through a brand they trust. But customer loyalty is a very complex concept. It implies several aspects, both statistical and emotional. Working on growing a loyal customer data base is something any company should go after.