Is there a critical mass for loyalty?

12 February 2019

Is there a critical mass for loyalty in the same way there is for other behaviour? Is there an optimum number of times a member has to do something before we count them as loyal? Malcolm Gladwell believes there is and explains in his book, Outliers, that to master a subject or skill, we need to spend at least 10,000 hours engaged with it. It worked for the Beatles and Bill Gates – why not loyalty, too?

Here the consideration is not just ‘a bit loyal’, but what moves the individual into decision-making based on passion, rather than routine, or even burden? A purchase is the desired ultimate behaviour in any loyalty marketing. However, loyalty marketers also know that the success and widespread use of social media demonstrates that there are more actions than just purchasing that tie a customer to a brand. Loyalty is measured more effectively by considering the combination of varied levels of active engagement. These key metrics are based on a combination of what a business thinks is important, such as KPIs, and, most importantly, what a member thinks is important.

As much as the frequency of purchase, financial value and product determine the breadth and depth of a customer’s loyalty, so does how much they engage with anything about your brand, and the range of what they participate in. A common proxy for this is to use email open and click-through rates. But really, can you measure levels of loyalty by whether someone is willing to have an idle look at what is being sent to them whilst waiting for a bus? It’s hardly the mark of a die-hard loyalist. I have a friend who has every single colour of the same jumper ever made by a particular high-end sportswear brand. Now that’s the sort of loyalty I mean.

The way to understand the latent features of connected, emotional loyalty is to ask your most loyal customers. By establishing weighted engagement metrics and developing a synthesised engagement score, creating dynamic and personalised loyalty comms and measuring their success is much easier. This is something closer to identifying and developing a critical mass of loyalty. Passionate, unconditional loyalty is not about casually opening an email. It is true ambassadorship, where your brand is an essential feature of the way customers live their lives.