Consumer disloyalty: on the ascent?


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Last week Time magazine ran a story based on Accenture’s 2011 Global Consumer Research Study headlined “Most Consumers Switched Service Providers in 2011” and went on to suggest that “if you stayed the course last year and never switched banks, wireless companies, pay TV services, or any other providers, then you’re in the minority. And if you actually feel “very loyal” to your providers, then you’re part of an even smaller minority.”

Accenture’s survey zeroed in on “five blind spots” that could “predispose” customers to being a rolling stone.

– Missing the chance to set the right expectations at the onset of a customer relationship.

-Not noticing subtle changes that matter to customers’ need for recognition, special treatment and reward.

– Failure to offer consumers opportunities to engage with a provider

– Relying on technology point solutions to satisfy and keep customers.

Accenture’s suggestions to improve in these areas are largely intuitive and self-evident but nevertheless, missed by a surprisingly large number of companies.

Time’s article did not mention hotels or airlines but Accenture had included them in their study and the findings with regard to these two industries were, unsurprisingly, not substantially different to any of the eight other industries included in their survey. Only 23% of survey respondents participated in at least one hotel or airline loyalty program. Similarly, the percentage of respondents who stuck to their hotel or airline loyalty program came in at 53 and 51 respectively.

An area not covered by Accenture is the tendency to change goal posts in loyalty programs. Airlines are arguably the most notorious in that area. What were formerly 120,000 mileage award tickets now “cost” the customer 350,000 miles in the case of one leading legacy carrier. (Accenture suggests “rearchitecting programs to stagger promotion to elite levels.) And that does not include a raft of taxes and service fees that were conspicuously absent a few years ago. Some of the big hospitality players too practice that dodgy art by changing requirements for attaining premium levels.

Time ascribed the disloyalty on the part of US consumers to their being “commitment-phobes”. A phobia stemming from economic uncertainty resulting in renters rather than buyers of housing, lessees instead of buyers of automobiles and, in general, consumers who who abhors long term contracts in a range of consumer necessities such as banks, cable companies and wireless providers. Maybe so, but that is the new reality across industries not only because of financial uncertainty but also because of a continual flow of new entrants whose expectation levels are different when the select few were able to partake of heretofore luxuries.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Vijay Dandapani
Since August 1993, Vijay Dandapani, the President and Chief Operating Officer of Apple Core Hotels, has been instrumental in the company's growth and development, including acquisitions, six hotel renovations and the implementation of state-of-the-art computer systems. A hotel industry veteran, Dandapani, is also a member of the Board of Directors for the following associations: Hotel Association of New York City, NYC & Company, NYSHTA (New York State Hospitality & Tourism Association), and the International Hotel Motel & Restaurant Show at Javits.


  1. In today’s market the customer is looking for an economic advantage while receiving quality service or products. This something that customers find very efficiently through different resources available. So companies have to plan strategically by offering quality products or service and be cost effective for the customer while the company tries to acheive financial efficiency.

  2. It’s certainly not consumer commitment phobia. It’s consumers not being understood and being commoditized.
    Companies need to identify the emotional, practical and relationship-building needs of their customers and that can be accomplished by knowing the customers’ personality types.
    Each type views the world through its own, unique lens, gathers information, processes it, makes decisions, likes, trusts, creates a bond WHEN the company speaks their “language.”

    It’s like walking into a room full of strangers, meeting someone and just “clicking” in the first few minutes of conversation. That’s how personality-diven marketing works.


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