Buying loyalty from customers always seemed like a contradiction. Now, the game is up. Experts think the age of marketing based on loyalty is over, here we reflect on the coming era of relevance. Is loyalty dying? Well, the canine community might disagree. Even in the digital age, dogs generally seem quite pleased to see their owners. But can we say the same of customers and brands? Are the time-honored techniques for making customers loyal to companies and products on the decline? Possibly. The evidence is piling up. In a 2018 article for Harvard Business Review, three senior execs at Accenture made the case that the “loyalty era” of marketing is coming to an end. Instead, they argue, we're entering the age of 'relevance’. Before, we dig into that, let's recap where marketing has come from. The consensus is that modern marketing was born in the 60s, and that there have been four stages since then:
- Mass market (60s/70s) The era of mass production, when scale and distribution ruled
- Segmentation (80s) More sophisticated consumer research enabled marketers to target customers in niche segments
- Customer level (90/2000s) Tech advances made it possible to target individual customers
- Loyalty (2010s) The age of CRM, tailored incentives and advanced retention
Looking back over the list, it's obvious that technology plays a key role in the evolution of the discipline. The mass-market era of Coca-Cola and McDonalds was made possible by cars, freeways and the television set. The loyalty era of Amazon was brought into being by cloud servers and data mining. So, what's powering the move towards 'relevance'? According to the HBR article, it's the digitization of everything. Customers now have access to endless information and more freedom to move between brand choices than ever before. It's not that loyalty is unimportant, it's more that it can no longer simply be bought with rewards or discounts. So what should modern marketers do to make their brands relevant? To read the full article and find out how relevance is enabled by true personalization (the segment of one) download our latest eBook - Messaging and Personalization, transitioning from loyalty to relevance, where you’ll find further insights, use-cases and stats that outline the trajectory of personalization in enterprise communication. If you’re hungry for even more on personalization, check out our webinar in partnership with MEF – Strengthening customer relationships through mobile engagement where we dig into the full potential of personalized messaging in even more detail.