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Tossing Loyalty a Bone, or a Rolling Stone

Canada8-18-2014 11-13-46 AMAsk anyone to name the first concert he or she attended, and you will be in store for a lush tale, one complete with a well-planned wardrobe, the stage engineering, the opening chords and the multiple encores.

The concert may have taken place decades ago, but it remains a living experience, tattooed on the brain as fresh as the morning’s alarm bell. And it is at the heart of what makes us loyal. The same logic applies to our first pets. Ask a co-worker about his or her favorite pet, and watch the facial expression soften into a collage of recollections.

So it did not surprise me when I read the results of a recent survey by COLLOQUY and FanXchange, a provider of live event tickets for loyalty operators. The survey, called the 2014 Experiential Rewards Research, sought to learn if people are more loyal to their favorite bands, pets, sports teams, churches or alma maters.

Based on the results, American and Canadians rank pets and bands first, respectively. Specifically, 71% of Americans surveyed said they are extremely or somewhat loyal to their pets, with loyalty to their favorite bands ranking second, at 69%. Most Canadians, meanwhile, said they were most loyal to their favorite bands (73%), with loyalty to their pets ranking a close second at 72%.

I guess one can argue, then, that Rush edges out Rover in Canada, but in the states, Roscoe beats out the Rolling Stones.

In both countries, sports came in third, with 66% of Americans and 65% Canadians pledging their loyalties to a favorite sports team. Coming up the back, in America, are churches (55%) and alma maters (49%). In Canada it was reverse, with 46% most loyal to their alma maters and 41% loyal to their churches.

The study findings are based on a June survey of 1,003 American and 1,005 Canadian consumers.

The research may be a little tongue-in-cheek, but not the results. The lesson marketers should take from the importance of Wilco and Whiskers is that consumers tend to remember those with which they personally connect. Bands deliver messages that personally resonate; pets are unconditionally loyal. We relate to each on an intimate level.

As Jeff Berry, research director of COLLOQUY, described these affinities: “There was a connection. Somebody finally understood us, and that made a lasting impression.”

So the question, or challenge, for marketers, is this: When your best customers leave, do they do so with a positive imprint of the brand experience in their memories? Did the interaction convey the organization’s mission; the mission that brings customers back?

Ask anyone to describe his or her favorite brand experience, and take note of the detail in the response. It may not be a lush tale, but it likely will include a specific person who made a connection. Ask for a bad experience, and it will likely involve a person who failed to show up.

But let’s leave pet peeves for another story.

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