June 14, 2008

When Saatchi & Saatchi came up with the great concept of Lovemarks they described them as brands that inspire loyalty beyond reason.

I liked the concept and have used it many times in my marketing endeavors.

There are many positives to the concept and I have learned quite a lot from looking at how Lovemarks behave.

But lately I have found an issue with the concept; the issue is that the Lovemarks concept places the “action” on consumers (provide loyalty) versus on the brands.

Today consumers have a tremendous amount of power and brands can't rest on building loyalty and enjoying the benefits once they have loyal consumers.

I have found that loyalty is not static - it is active. Loyalty moves; it grows, but it can also decrease.

Lovemarks are supposed to deliver beyond expectation; but what happens when those expectation are raised? It is the Lovemark's job - not the consumer's - to make changes, to make a move.

This all comes from a personal experience I recently had.

For me Starbucks has been a Lovemark for many years.

I loved Starbucks. I lived at Starbucks. They had everything I wanted. I felt “at home” when driving around I saw a Starbucks.

I knew I could get my coffee, something to eat if I wanted, I could use a (usually) clean bathroom, and I could connect to the internet and check email (yes!).

I had a relationship with Starbucks - there was love and respect (a Lovemark!).

But over the last couple of months things have changed. I have gone to other coffee places where I feel treated better than at Starbucks; I have felt rushed and ignored at my usual “home” (Starbucks); now I'm comparing Starbucks to these other places and am being pulled to the “new” places.

What happened?

Starbucks took my loyalty for granted.

Someone else treats me better and they are getting more of my business.

My love and respect for Starbucks has diminished.

The relationship has weakened (as happens with people).

I looked somewhere else and found a better deal - but Starbucks made me look somewhere else.

So Starbucks was a Lovemark of mine, but not any more. I don't have unconditional loyalty towards them. My expectations changed and they didn't keep up. Loyalty is on going - make me loyal, but also KEEP me loyal.

They didn't do that.

They put the effort on me to go to them, but didn't see that the effort should have been on them to keep me coming (they may be seeing that now based on store closings and internal changes).

So I believe that Lovemarks do exist, but they don't remain Lovemarks for ever once they arrive. They need to keep working at it, to evolve along with consumers, and to stay ahead of consumer expectations.

Being a Lovemark is a process - not a destination.

By Enrique R. Turegano


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