Is Brand Loyalty Dying A Slow And Painful Death?

Steve Olenski

When I was a wee lad – OK maybe I wasn’t so wee as I was in my mid-20s, I was a marketer working on the AARP Health Insurance account which at that time was underwritten by United HealthCare. In fact I think it still is, but that’s not the point.

The point is as myself and my fellow marketers tried to get people to switch from their existing insurance coverage to coverage provided by AARP, underwritten by United HealthCare, we oftentimes heard a common lament which was Mr. and Mrs. Smith did not want to switch their plan because they were staying  loyal to their existing brand – which in many cases was Blue Cross/Blue Shield.Brand Loyalty

Oh we would lay out the fact that our plan was the exact same plan they already had only cheaper, but they were not buying it – literally and figuratively. They more often than not were steadfast in their desire to stay true and loyal to their beloved BC/BS.

That Was Then

Now keep in mind we’re talking about people who were in the mid 60s and up and one could argue brand loyalty among the older generation – especially going back 20 years, was a lot different than it is today. Times were a whole lot different. No social media, no real internet – at least the way we know it to be today and surely mobile phones were not what they are today, not by a long shot.

Consumers, regardless of age, were more likely to be brand loyal in my humble opinion. You wanted an adhesive bandage, you bought Band-Aids. You wanted a tissue, you bought Kleenex. And so on and so on.

What About Now?

Earlier this year I wrote a piece entitled Only One Quarter Of American Consumers Are Brand Loyal which touched on the findings of an Ernst & Young survey of nearly 25,000 people across 34 different markets around the world.

“On the whole across all 34 markets brand loyalty checking in just under 40% as a determining factor in making a buying decision, but, that number dropped to just 25% in the US, a highly significant decrease in the number of American consumers who say brand loyalty is something that impacts their buying behavior.”

As I wrote then and will write again here, I would’ve guessed that number would have been even lower among American consumers when it comes to brand loyalty.

And when you dive deeper and look into specific age demographics, the numbers re: brand loyalty are even more telling.

In her piece for Forbes earlier this year Why Big Retail Is Running Scared Of The Millennial Generation, J. Maureen Henderson, made reference to “a report by WSL Strategic Retail that documents how the fortunes of retailers such as Gap, Urban Outfitters and Aeropostale have been suffering in light of decreased consumer spending by twentysomethings and cautions these retailers and others in their shoes about aiming their marketing campaigns at a cohort that currently lacks spending power.”

The aforementioned WSL Strategic Retail How America Shops MegaTrends report entitled “Moving On 2012,” revealed that that 80% of millennials looked for the lowest price possible when shopping and that 60% are more inclined to bypass their favorite brand if a cheaper alternative is available.

While the percentages decrease the higher/older you move on the demographic scale, it is worth noting, as Henderson noted in her piece, “The (WSL Strategic Retail) report’s authors also warn that a generation of potential consumers who are unwilling or unable to spend will eventually hurt higher-end retailers (brands).”

In other words if they can’t afford the higher end brands now, they may not be able to afford to or even want to spend more as they get older.

The Role Of Mobile When It Comes To Brand Loyalty

I will surely not spew out the latest statistics re: the number of consumers using their smartphones and tablets to make a purchase, Surely by now you know ours is a mobile world where our smartphones have become an extension of our lives and rarely do we ever – with all due respect to American Express – leave home without it.

When consumers are out and about they check their smartphones for real time savings but surely that won’t impact brand loyalty, right?

Sponsored by AisleBuyer, a survey conducted earlier this year revealed that nearly 75% of consumers would switch brands if offered real-time discounts and promotions that were delivered to their smartphones in real time while they were shopping in a store.

Honestly I would have predicted that number to be even higher for the simple reason that, no matter who you are, or how much money you make, every single one of us likes a deal. We all enjoy saving money, don’t we? Well unless you work for the government.

But I digress.

So, the question remains.

Is Brand Loyalty Dying A Slow And Painful Death?

Or to take it a step further, has brand loyalty already died but no one told it yet?

Think about it.

How loyal can people be when Nearly One Third Of Online Consumers Trust A Stranger Over A Brand?

Sources:, Google Images


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What Happened to Jim? The Cost of Low Morale

Ted Coine


 My neighbor Jim is quitting.

When Jim took his current job a few years ago, his morale was sky-high.

  • He came in earlier and stayed later than anyone on his team, in order to make a good impression but also because he was eager to deliver extraordinary results.
  • At lunchtime, he made a habit of eating with his more tenured coworkers to pick their brains for best practices.
  • He took his laptop home every night and weekend. He spent untold hours learning all he could about his new role, his new company, and the customers it served.

We moved to this neighborhood when Jim was still new to his company. I could tell by the way his eyes lit up whenever we discussed it that Jim was proud to work there. He loved his boss and enjoyed his colleagues. He was quite impressed with the company’s generous benefits, with the stellar caliber of talent it employed, with its reputation in the market, and with its prospects for the future.

None of those things has changed. Jim still loves his boss and his colleagues, some of whom have become good friends. The benefits, the people, the company’s reputation and its trajectory for growth – all of these things remain truly excellent.

Jim himself has been recognized repeatedly for his high performance. He was promoted once, and has been offered several  promotions since – in fact, other teams and other business units try to poach him from his current boss. He’s been tapped repeatedly as a subject matter expert, as a tester for new processes, and has been made the subject of a few time-in-motion studies. Jim is exactly the exemplary catch his boss was hoping for when she hired him.

But something has happened along the way.

  • Now, when Jim talks about his employer, his eyes don’t light up like they used to. Instead, they smolder with anger.
  • Jim has turned down all but that first promotion.
  • Despite a lucrative referral bonus, Jim has never referred even one person to work for his company. (And with his network both in our area and on social media, finding talent would be a breeze for him!)
  • Jim is often last-in, first out at work. His computer hasn’t come home with him in a long time.
  • Jim never eats lunch with anyone from work anymore, not even his friends. Instead, he tells me he uses that time to defuse a little so he can stomach another four hours “in the salt mines,” as he calls work.

Jim tells me he’s going to leave soon – either his division, or the company entirely. Indeed, he says that he’s at least a year late in doing so. He’s mad at himself for lingering. Mostly, Jim tells me with a sardonic laugh, he’s just plain mad.

What happened to Jim? And if you are in any level of management, from front-line to the board of directors, I hope you ask yourself these questions:

  • Does Jim, or someone like him, work for you?
  • Is he rare at your company, or is he closer to the norm?
  • Perhaps most importantly: How Do You Know?
  • What is the cost of this low morale to your company? How big a drag does it have on your stock price?

If you have Jims at your company, what happened to these people? What can you do to stop that from happening anymore?

Jim’s real-life story (real guy; fake name) leads me to recommend this post, for starters: Lead Like All Your Employees Are Volunteers 

 Art by Alfredo Caceres


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Why Europe Doesn’t Trust The Cloud

Investments in European cloud infrastructure will fail to reach even 12% in the next five years, say the business consultants at BearingPoint. The reason boils down to one thing: a basic lack of trust.

 (Photo: istockphoto)

(Photo: istockphoto)

In theory, everyone agrees. Analysts, IT services providers, consumers and, in principle, many businesses recognize the immense potential to be exploited by bringing services to the cloud. But there is still widespread skepticism in the business world. Accordingly, Gartner anticipates growth of just 11.8% in cloud expenditure in Europe between 2011 and 2016! That’s slightly more than the economic growth rate predicted by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development for the same period and significantly less than the predicted global cloud growth figure of 17.7%.

Yet almost everyone who tries out the cloud is enthusiastic. For example, a study conducted by KPMG and Pierre Audoin Consultants (PAC) on behalf of Germany’s Federal Association for Information Technology, Telecommunications and New Media, found that 81% of all public cloud users rated their experiences as thoroughly or mostly positive. This figure was just under 60% among private cloud users.

No trust in the cloud, but why?

Here’s the paradox: The cloud is generally agreed to offer significant potential. And, given the chance, it is more than capable of demonstrating it. Yet there is still no sign of a boom in cloud computing. Why is that? And what is it that’s making Europeans reluctant to invest?

Business consultants BearingPoint investigated and documented the reasons in a study. “Many businesses are failing to tap into the huge opportunities offered by cloud computing. The main sticking point is trust. If there’s so much as a whiff of doubt, companies will not transfer their mission-critical data to the cloud,” says Stefan Pechardscheck, a partner at BearingPoint and co-author of the study.


(Source: BearingPoint)

One of the contributing factors to this mood of uncertainty is the issue of differing national data-protection regulations. The stricter the regulations, the more stringent the requirements for cross-border data transfer – and the more unsure companies are about how to comply with them in the cloud. If in doubt, they tend to play it safe and operate their own data center rather than use the cloud. At least, they argue, they know where they are with a data center.

Consequently, in locations where legal regulations are strict, cloud growth is sluggish. That’s why, compared with the global adoption rate, the European Union is well off the pace when it comes to embracing cloud computing. And Germany, which has some of the world’s most stringent data-protection rules, is currently bringing up the rear.

Sticking points: Privacy, intellectual property, migration

There’s uncertainty in other areas too: intellectual property, security, and compliance. How, if push comes to shove, do companies access data that they have stored in the cloud? Questions like these require convincing answers if businesses are to make the switch to the cloud.

Yet the concept of cloud computing is a recipe for success – BearingPoint has no doubts on that score. After all, mobility, Big Data, and green IT are all developments that clearly fit this trend. Precisely how the cloud develops in the future will depend largely on how quickly trust-inspiring tools can be put in place.

How rapidly can industry-wide standards be established? How open are IT providers to the idea of intensifying collaboration to make the market more transparent? And what about regulation at the national and – more importantly – international level?

Ultimately, businesses are interested in the bottom line. Here, at least, the forecasts are as distinctly positive as early experiences with the cloud. That’s surely an important first step toward establishing trust.


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How To Retweet: 8 Ways To Avoid Being A Lazy Retweeter

Gerry Moran

Don't be lazy with your retweets!

Don’t be lazy with your retweets!

Have you ever been in a conversation and you find yourself nodding your head to feign understanding, when you do not have a clue!

I have found many a social media expert and native, yes Millennials included, that do the same thing! They are not posers, however, they just do not have the breadth and depth of the how-to!

It’s important to master the basics of something like Twitter, since it’s one of the key pistons in the social media messaging engine. Specifically, there are four key reasons why retweeting is important. They all focus on increasing the reach of your messaging and social media brand by increasing followers, promoting relevant content and helping to build authentic relationships with followers and content creators!

The most important advice I can give you is to avoid clicking on the oh-so-convenient retweet (RT) icon. Passing that will help build your brand and add value to your messaging strategy. In fact, 15% of your content strategy should be retweets (that’s what we do for our content marketing strategy at SAP).

Recent HubSpot research tells us:

  • There is no significant link between the number of retweets and the number of clickthroughs
  • 14.6% of retweeted tweets had 0 clicks
  • Tweets that contained the word ‘retweet’ were retweeted more frequently but clicked on less often
  • Tweets containing the @ symbol were retweeted less frequently but clicked more often
  • Tweets including the words ‘please retweet’ are likely to be retweeted four times more than those that do not include that phrase

Your retweeting strategy needs to focus on adding your incremental value to the tweet. You just don’t want to be a “passer-alonger”. Rather, you want to put your curated spin on what you perceive to be relevant and valued content! This is important since it builds your brand and shows your followers and readers that you have a point of view and are not a parrot of sorts.

Like many things that are successful, the old-school approach to things always take a little more time, however, pay out in spades … but in this case Retweets!

So, quit talking about yourself and start manually amplifying the conversations of others! Here are five ways to get the most from your RTs:

8 Steps To Go Old School With Your Retweets

1. Avoid Clicking On The RT Icon! As Meatloaf’s romantic pursuit said in Paradise By The Dashboard Light … “stop right there!” You want your RTs to work as hard as possible and that RT icon does not give you the flexibility to customize your message! There is a reason that many tweeters do not use the entire 140-character limit … so you can retweet by adding your twist, which is why you have followers anyway, right?

Screen shot 2013-01-09 at 8.00.02 PM

2. Cut & Paste The Entire Tweet That You Want To Retweet. In one swift motion, capture the entire content of your retweetable tweet and copy it! This action works whether you are in Twitter or in another client like Hootsuite or TweetDeck!

Screen shot 2013-01-09 at 7.41.15 PM

3. Click On (Blue Icon With The Quill)  Compose A New Tweet Button. With your retweetable tweet copied, click on your compose button to commence with the tweeting!

Screen shot 2013-01-09 at 7.44.06 PM

4. Eliminate Extraneous Name. First, delete the user name, while maintaining the Twitter handle of the tweeter. After all, this IS the key to retweeting vs. “stealing” … paying twomage (twitter homage) to the content’s author.

Screen shot 2013-01-09 at 7.42.26 PM

5. Add RT In Front Of Tweet. Now, the standard “RT” is inserted in front of the tweet. Using this formatting will let the author know that he or she has been retweeted vs. just being “mentioned”. Both actions basically give author acknowledgment and position you as a “good tweeter”.

Screen shot 2013-01-09 at 7.56.28 PM

6. Edit Extra Characters And Words From Tweet. You always want to be setting up the next “move” with your tweets to allow others to retweet with their own message. I see this activity all of the time with my tweets from generating retweets from retweets. Make sure you provide this extra room!

Screen shot 2013-01-09 at 7.45.07 PM7. Make Sure Link Still Works! There is not bigger downer than a link that does not work. It puts two strikes against you! First, you obviously did not read what you are retweeting, which makes you a poser. Secondly, you are wasting your readers time and will likely never get clicked on again!

Screen shot 2013-01-09 at 7.56.40 PM

8. Add In Your Messaging And Keep Overall Message To 120 Characters Or Less. Now, make this message your own by adding in your insight. Me, I love to see “Great ideas” in front of my tweets. However, you may want to share how this applies to your experience or anything else that is relevant to your followers!

Screen shot 2013-01-09 at 7.56.12 PMIf you have some success stories to share on retweeting, please do by adding a comment to this blog, reaching out to me directly or tweeting me at @GerryMoran .

Please take my advice and don’t take the easy way out with retweeting by just being an echo chamber. Add your two cents and point of view, since that is why others are following you!

– Gerry Moran.


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Can Wii U Save Humanity? A Skeptical Parent Weighs In

SAP Guest

By Jacqueline Prause, Senior Editor,

Ubisoft presents WiiU during the Ubisoft's med...More than once I tried to ask my dad for an Atari game console when I was a kid. The answer usually came back something like, “When you are old and sick and gray, then you can play video games. Right now you should be outside running around. Now, go pick up all the sticks in the yard.”

Eventually, I internalized my dad’s strict attitude towards fighting sloth and mindlessness through character-building activities like yard work, sailing in November, and camping in chilly downpours. But I think part of giving up was also in response to my recognition that I just wasn’t good at video games; I never got practice time. This lost piece of my childhood lay dormant for many years.

Until – last month when my husband decided we needed Nintendo’s new Wii U system, so my four- and six-year-old sons could play – *gasp* – video games, namely Skylanders. I balked. I imagined my boys morphing into suburban marshmallows with crossed eyes, laying about and making varying grunting noises of delight and despair at the TV all day, all social skills hopelessly lost, no longer motivated to go out into the world and conquer anything real.

So, I watched them carefully. They quickly learned the basics of the game and could get themselves started pretty well. One handled the game console. The other managed the impressive “Portal of Power.” For the most part it didn’t really matter to them who did which task, and they switched back and forth easily in their excitement to complete the game’s challenges. The game was actually brilliantly designed. It helped the young players with tips and directions, and seemed to sort of adapt to their playing ability. In no time, they had reached Level 4. One afternoon a friend joined them, and then it got really interesting.

Instead of fighting it out to be the master of the game console, they arranged themselves so that one controlled the console, one oversaw the Portal of Power, and the third stood back to jump up and down and shout directions from his vantage point, occasionally dashing over to the Portal of Power to switch characters. No one was bossing, commanding, or name calling. They were all focused on the same task and engaged in harmonious – albeit loud – joint problem solving. Could this be… collaboration? Have my children reached the highest level of human collective action through… gaming?

I reached for my copy of Howard Rheingold’s Net Smart to find out if I was witnessing a textbook definition of collaboration among kindergarteners. Deep in chapter 4, Rheingold, a long-time writer and observer of digital culture, looks at how human collective action plays out in the digital world. On Twitter, he once asked, what’s the difference between coordination, cooperation, and collaboration? Canadian professor Wayne McPhail responded within minutes: “You need coordination to dance, cooperation to dance with a partner, and collaboration to dance with a flash mob.”

There’s something to that. Researcher Arthur Himmelman developed a taxonomy of collective action, comprising four levels:

  • Networking – simple, low-risk, and low commitment interactions, like handing out business cards or attending a conference.
  • Coordination – all parties share information and agree to modify their activities.
  • Cooperation – exchanging information, modifying activities, and sharing resources to achieve a common purpose.
  • Collaboration – this most sophisticated form of collective action goes even further to include adding to the capacity of another for mutual benefit.

And there it was, in my living room: collaboration. Are my children already on to the next step of human evolution? Will humanity be better if we develop collaborative skills at an early age? I don’t know. But I do know the thrill I felt when I was called upon to help the young players unblock a passage to reach the next level. Even in this new virtual world, mom still knows best.

Follow me on twitter: @jacprause

This story originally appeared on SAP Business Trends.


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