Last Updated Jun 3, 2008 8:53 AM EDT
Why aren't customers more loyal?
It's because you haven't reciprocated the love they've showered on you, say Gerald and Lindsay Zaltman, authors of Marketing Metaphoria: What Deep Metaphors Reveal about the Minds of Consumers.
In our interviews with brand managers, we often notice that while they think of consumer loyalty to a brand, they do not think of a brand as loyalty to its consumers. Consumers become aware of this one-sidedness. When asked, many loyal consumers did not feel that the company or the brand reciprocated their own commitment. While consumers may continue to use those brands and thus, by some standards, be deemed loyal, the loyalty is fragile.How to earn that loyalty? Demonstrate to your customers that you have their best interests at heart. Make them feel connected or affiliated with something bigger than themselves. According to the book:
Managers must identify the dimensions of connection that are most relevant or could be made more relevant to consumers. For example, managers need to consider whether a product offers connection with, or disconnection from, others or oneself. And they must decide whether a connection is physical, social, or mental. Once these levels of connection are understood, marketing managers can better show how a product or service attends to the consumer's basic human needs.By the way, customers are sensitive about how companies treat their workers. If your staff is grumpy about work conditions, you can forget building much loyalty with customers either, the Zaltmans observe.
Here's an interview in HBS Working Knowledge with the authors about the power of metaphor in advertising, brand marketing, and product design to drive that mystical connection between company and customer.