The COLLOQUY I-Network – The Cause Is the Catalyst


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In “Magna Cum Loyalty,” COLLOQUY Managing Partner Kelly Hlavinka lauds Citi’s new ThankYou Point-Sharing App, which enables ThankYou Rewards members to strive for group rewards by allowing them to pool rewards points with Facebook friends. We see this sharing-network concept as further evidence of the growing power of what we call “the I-Network.” In the age of social media, consumers are creating their own networks that loyalty marketers must understand and address if their brands are to be allowed within those networks.

A recent survey by ad agency Campbell Mithun in partnership with Carbonview Research quantifies an aspect of this trend (with such terminology as “the sharing economy” and “collaborative consumption” to describe when a group of people – neighbors, family, friends, and so on – purchase and share a product or service.)

According to the study, “not only did 60% of overall respondents find the concept of sharing appealing, but a full 71% of those who have used shareable products expect to continue.” Sharing is, of course, a pragmatic concern. The study ranked the following rational benefits of “collaborative consumption” (described in their words):

* Financial – saves me money
* Environmental – is good for the environment
* Lifestyle – provides me flexibility
* Lifestyle – is practical
* Trial – provides access to goods/services

In that list is an element that we consider to be critical to the I-Network: mutual good for members of the network – and beyond. “The cause is the catalyst,” Kelly writes in her article for this issue. “Citi’s initiative also reflects a shift from offering customers a traditional value proposition to serving up a ‘compelling cause.’ Far meatier than cause marketing, this pooling option offers members a wide spectrum of teamwork opportunities, and offers marketers a unique opportunity to learn more about what is important to their best customers. Which segments group together and which ignore the opportunity? Who turns toward altruism, pooling points to donate to needy causes? And which customers strive for big-screen TVs in time for the Super Bowl?”

The Campbell Mithun/Carbonview study touches on “cause” concepts in a ranking of emotional benefits of collaborative consumption (again, their words):

* Generosity – I can help myself and others
* Community – I’m valued and belong
* Lifestyle – I’m smart
* Lifestyle I’m more responsible
* Cultural – I’m part of a movement

Such benefits reflect COLLOQUY’s definition of the I-Network. It’s a matter of “I,” indeed (“I’m valued,” as the Campbell Mithun survey phrases it), but largely in the concept of “‘I’ as a part of ‘we'” – the “we” that the individual consumer defines as part of his or her network.

(Then, of course, there’s the wacky side of the “collaborative consumption” survey. More on that in a blog tomorrow.)

Bill Brohaugh
As managing editor, Bill Brohaugh is responsible for the day-to-day management and editorial for the COLLOQUY magazine and, the most comprehensive loyalty marketing web site in the world. In addition to writing many of the feature articles, Bill develops the editorial calendar, hires and manages outside writers and researchers and oversees print and online production. He also contributes to COLLOQUY's weekly email Market Alert and the COLLOQUYTalk series of white papers.


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