The dark side of consumer loyalty – Beware your biggest fans!

Loyal customers and advocates are marketing gold dust. They fall madly and deeply in love with brands, spreading the word like wildfire and buying everything you put in front of them. But how deep does consumer loyalty go?  

The down-side of consumer loyalty

When you’re loyal to your family, friends and loved ones – even to something abstract like a cause or principle – you’re pretty hard to shift. You might even lay down your life for them. But does the kind of loyalty you feel towards brands feel as fundamental?

Not so long ago I was a self-proclaimed advocate of EON, the utilities firm, and the Evening Argus, our local paper. But they both managed to annoy me just enough to make me walk away. It didn’t take much to tip the balance. All they had to do was let me down once or twice. Even EON’s excellent plain English follow-up emails didn’t persuade me to go back.

Because nobody likes to think they’ve made a bad decision about where to bestow their affections, advocates have a long way to fall when things go wrong. Which makes them as dangerous as they are beneficial. It’s probably less damaging to piss people off early in the customer lifecycle when they haven’t invested so much affection, respect and trust in your brand. Mess with consumer loyalty at your peril!