A Letter About Loyalty

Dear Allen,

I read with interest your article on loyalty. The dictionary definition suggested loyalty involves a more deep commitment than merely continuing to do business with one company. I turn to the dictionary, since that often gives insights into the etymology and thus the roots of meaning that come to us in the daily world via the folkloric effect of "common usage".

However, it does suggest that true loyalty cannot be bribed with points. People are loyal because of some kind of personal connection with a product, person, or cause. Apple users are typically "loyal". People are loyal to a sporting team. In employment, longevity and loyalty are not always equal. A person may be loyal to a boss or a team. And so on.

Nor should inertia be confused with loyalty. I am loyal to an airline because they treat me well, and provide the flights I need. There is also a certain amount of inertia. I have their website bookmarked for ease of purchase. Recently, I changed ISPs. For a long time I hated the ISP I was using and cursed them daily. Staying with them as long as I did was a factor not of loyalty but of the time it took to find and validate a better alternative.

Neither is loyalty a guarantee of business. Some Apple loyalists never buy a new Apple product, but simply keep on upgrading their old system with third party products and pirating new OS software releases. Ironically, they still see themselves as loyal, yet do not contribute to Apple's business.

So when companies develop strategies around "loyalty", it is important that they decide if they are seeking loyalty or repeat business.

So thanks for your article. It stimulated me into thinking about what makes up loyalty. I hope that my thoughts have been of interest.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
image of Allen Weiss

Allen Weiss is the CEO and founder of MarketingProfs. He's also a longtime marketing professor and mentor at the University of Southern California, where he leads Mindful USC, its mindfulness center.