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The Fable of the Loyal Consumer

By BKV in Direct Marketing on July 15th, 2010

A guy I know loved The Home Depot. He was about 5 miles from the closest Home Depot and because he liked working around his house, he was at The Home Depot 3-5 times a month. And he spent a lot in multiple departments. He did this for years. When he moved to a new house, he went to The Home Depot closest to this new house. He was a loyal customer, right? Wrong. A year ago, a Lowe's opened 1.5 miles from his house, and he's never been to The Home Depot since. He didn't get mad at them; he doesn't feel anything about his defection -- if he even sees it as a defection. What happened here? He wasn't loyal. It was a habit, and The Home Depot did nothing to make him emotionally tied to their store. And so he's gone.Loyalty in Marketing The same man shops at Eddie Bauer. He's shopped there for years. He carries their credit card. He bought an Eddie Bauer "Swiss army knife" and carried it for several years. One day he forgot and sent the knife through the wash in his pants pocket. It killed the knife. The glue failed and the knife was in pieces. He took it back to Eddie Bauer and they gave him a new knife. No questions asked - just an apology that it hadn't stood the "test of time." Now he's loyal to Eddie Bauer. And how does he show his loyalty? Yes, he shops there still. But better yet for the organization, he tells the story of the pocket knife. He lets people know that Eddie Bauer stood by their product, and surprised and delighted him with their customer service. And in the telling, he strengthens his own emotional tie to the store and converts others. Now that's loyalty that our clients and others should esteem to.