Marketers often confuse loyalty with getting consumers to carry one more plastic card in a wallet already filled with plastic loyalty cards.
I experienced this cartoon a few weeks ago at an Office Depot in Colorado. The one and only cashier leisurely chatted up every customer with the same up-sell pitch (loyalty points, extended warranties, impulse items at the till), even as a line of customers grumbled about how long it was taking and thinking it would have been easier to shop online.
When everyone offers a similar “loyalty” program, has loyalty lost its meaning? Particularly when loyalty seems primarily about price discounts, not creating value that might actually inspire loyalty in a brand.
Time featured a recent piece on a growing backlash against loyalty programs in supermarkets — a “Disloyalty Movement“. Even as loyalty programs are increasing (22 per household versus 18 three years ago), consumers actively use less than half of the programs in their wallet.
Consumers are showing loyalty fatigue. This is driven by loyalty programs without a compelling reason for being combined with skepticism around privacy policies. The major underlying factor is lack of differentiation.
In response, grocery retailer Albertsons has started to dismantle their loyalty programs. Shaw’s, which is owned by Albertsons, has started to promote “Card Free Savings” to keep it simple. As they put it:
“The card isn’t so special anymore. Everyone has one. So we want to take the special step of not requiring one.”
When building loyalty, it’s important not to lose site of the real goal –creating an experience that consumers really value, and will go out of their way to experience again.
(Marketoonist Monday: I’m giving away a signed print of this week’s cartoon. Just share an insightful comment to this week’s post by 5:00 PST on Monday. Thanks!)
Here’s another cartoon I drew about loyalty fatigue last year.