Loyalty Agoraphobia


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In the new issue of COLLOQUY, I talk about the concept of “The Walled Garden,” spurned by the social-media-mad world championing complete openness. My point was that such open-madness might lead to a kind of agoraphobia–fear of open spaces–bringing challenges to loyalty marketers. After all, part of establishing loyalty is providing feelings of membership, exclusivity, and, yes, security.

In that regard, Apple hasn’t done all that bad over the last couple of years with the release of the iPhone and iPad. They elected to not support Adobe’s Flashmedia because they believed it posed security risks and made app development for their devices more difficult because of compatibility issues. Apple feels it is important to protect their customers and developers and not include Flashmedia support. Adobe feels Apple is restricting consumer access to the web. Who is right, only time will tell. And, the result will depend on consumer response or an action by either Adobe or Apple.

Overall, though, walled garden discussions will become more prevalent. Sometimes for good reasons because they will provide protection for folks. And, sometimes because a player is merely seeking economic advantage. People will chose to live in communities where they feel safe, yet free. It is up to marketers to define the gray space for the segments of customers they chose to serve. For example, what was a walled garden is now in question due to changes in the privacy policy. With Facebook changing their privacy policy, and a recent glitch in the technology, people begin to question whether their information is really safe. Why did Facebook change their policy? It appears it wasn’t a move to increase consumer interest. Rather, it was a move to monetize the information being collected on members.

As to Apple and Adobe, Apple has defined their market and has a solid following of consumers. Their mantra, “Simple, safe, usable technology.” While they aren’t the revenue behemoths of the tech players, they are a strong player that is very profitable. When you ask consumers which companies have a very loyalty following, Apple is a company that is almost always at the top of the list.

John Bartold
John Bartold, Vice President, Loyalty Solutions at Epsilon, specializes in developing marketing initiatives to build relationships and alter customer behavior for increased profitability and reduced churn. John is a frequently requested speaker on the subject of marketing and management at conferences throughout the US. He also serves as a faculty member for the highly popular Loyalty Marketing Workshop offered by the Direct Marketing Association and is a contributing editor to COLLOQUY.


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