Building loyalty by encouraging disloyalty?

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Now, this isn’t something you probably don’t want to say to your significant other: “Be disloyal.” But say it to your customers and expect loyalty in return? That’s the idea behind the strategy used by independent coffee shops–the most recent example appearing in Singapore.

Customers of eight independent coffee shops in Singapore can be rewarded for using the Be Disloyal card. Pick up a card at one of the shops, enjoy the wares of each of the other seven shops in the group, and return to the original shop for a free serving.

This isn’t a matter of reverse psychology, but instead a display of respect for the community of coffee lovers, and a way for an independent group of businesses to establish compelling differentiation in the face of chain competitors.

As recently reported in Singapore’s NewNation (with its interesting slogan, “50% real news”–maybe the Groupon philosophy is hitting the journalism scene, too): “While the idea of a cafe disloyalty card is new in Singapore, it was actually started in the UK by 2009 World Barista Champion Gwilym Davies. The concept has since toured around the world, hitting the US, Canada, and Australia.” NewNation suggests that this may be the first instance of the strategy in Asia.

COLLOQUY reported on Gwilym Davies’ innovation in our first issue of 2010, in “Latte Loyalty (or, ‘Drip Dialogue’).” One important difference here is that the coffee rounds to enjoy coffee grounds with Davies’ Disloyalty card began and ended at his establishment, where he personally put his champion barista talents to work for the successfully Disloyal customer. On the one hand, flexibility of customer choice. On the other, customer engagement with an experiential reward.

Either way, as we said back when, “this very sort of innovative thinking in customer engagement is COLLOQUY’s cup of tea.”

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