Wednesday, January 30
Breaking Up With Your Consumers
They say that breaking up is hard to do ... especially when you're a brand trying to figure out how to manage your loyal consumers. Consumer loyalty programs are a great way to keep consumers connected to the brand, but they are often costly in terms of time, energy, and money.
So when a brand has spent years developing a loyalty CRM (frequent flyer) program, how do they gracefully back out of it when it's no longer feasible?
It's like breaking up a relationship.
The answer? There's no easy way, no easy way.
Which was exactly my reaction when my friend sent me her "break up" note from Stonyfield Farms yogurt. They told her that they were canceling their loyalty program (My Stonyfield Rewards), toot sweet. It was a "Dear John" letter of the marketing kind, and just as awkward.
Now I am sure that the brand struggled with this decision and how to execute it. There's no easy way to break up with consumers. I am sure that they did the best they could under the circumstances with a very sincere email letter. These programs are incredibly expensive ... trust me, I've designed and executed a bunch of them.
The problem is that when we break up, we always want to know why. So how far should a brand go in explaining the cancellation of such a loyalty program?
My suggestion? Full transparency. Say why, say when, say how ... and maybe throw in a little parting gift. Sort of like sending white roses afterward. And say you're sorry. Just like when you're breaking up any relationship.
What's your experience? Jim.
President, Cohn & Wolfe NA
Author, The Experience Effect series
Marketing Professor, NYU
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