Forget brand loyalty

USA Pizza Hut

There are dozens of marketing sub-genres. From inbound search to direct mail, even Permission Marketing (coined by Seth Godin) is now on the unofficial Wikipedia list.

But something’s missing in 2013 — I like to call it “Principled Loyalty.”

Let me explain.

Marketers have spent years and billions of resources asking “How do we build brand loyalty?” After all, we understand the foot-in-the-door concept and know that making $5 more from an existing customer is easier than $1 from a new one.

But with the advent of daily deals (Groupon, LivingSocial, etc) and moreover their astounding success, I can’t help but wonder if we’re missing the mark in our efforts to differentiate brands.

So let principled loyalty be defined as a consumer’s loyalty to a concept instead of a brand.

Concepts include option clarity, convenience, and scarcity. Tactically this might mean “50% off” or “during lunch only,” two common pieces of ammunition oft used by the slew of daily deals behemoths.

Now for the fun part.

If I loved pizza (and I do) in the 1990’s (and I did) I’d order from Pizza Hut. Their product aligns with my interests and prices are reasonable. If I have a coupon, even better, but ultimately I prefer their taste so that alone drives my Y2K purchase.

This is a marketer’s dream – I was “brand loyal.”

But what about today?

If I want pizza in NYC I know a few new things, thanks to technology:

  • Tons of choices (why settle for the place we always get?)
  • Tons of daily deals (forget paying list price, baby!)
  • Tons of trusted reviews (no need to go with my gut or store signage design appeal)

Combine these and you’ve got a former Pizza Hut soldier making meal decisions exclusively by principles – where am I, what food category am I eating, and which places (nearby) are offering a discount?

What’s interesting is that my general sentiment towards Pizza Hut hasn’t changed – I love their product and am a big enough supporter to profess those interests publicly (hence this endorsement).

But unlike the 90’s when my next step was to pick up the phone and dial, my “brand loyalty” that was so sought after by the marketers of yesteryear now does nothing for Pizza Hut’s bottom line.

So if you want brand loyalty, fine. Keep the status quo and do your commercials with the cheesy crust.

But if you want more revenues, try something else.

If I say “Coca-Cola,” you probably see the cursive typeface, red and white colors, curved bottles, and polar bears, right? That’s because Coca-Cola has spent decades building its brand with precise imagery, a consistent logo, and steadfast messaging. While Coca-Cola is the quintessential timeless brand, many entrepreneurs have a tough time replicating its success because […]

CEOs with strong reputations and the know-how to promote their accomplishments (that is, CEOs with strong brands) have a significant advantage over their competitors. Having a powerful CEO brand can put your company in front of its target audience in a way that the corporation alone cannot. Why? Simple: Businesses don’t do speaking engagements, businesses […]

Type your brand name into Google. Like what you see? If you’re not being active about managing your brand online, you probably don’t. Even worse, other people could be making your brand look bad. Try Googling the keyword ‘Qwikster’ if you want to see what I mean. Now take a look at the image below. […]