11 June 2009

Social Media And The Act of Hooking Up: No Intimacy And No Loyalty

As I live in America - I am somewhat starved of conventional media's thinking opinions. The BBC and the commercial channels in the UK seem to have a better way of looking into issues - not too superficial and not too self serving. My favorite non-musical radio station where I live is my local NPR outlet KUOW.

On driving to an appointment on Monday I heard a very interesting piece on Sex without Intimacy (a link to the broadcast is below) - this got me thinking of the impact of Social Media on the current generation. If they just want sex without intimacy then surely they have no need for conventional loyalty. And so it seems that as we have changed our channels of communication - the ensuing attachments to (previously) conventional mores seem to have been lost. Perhaps because I am a little older - I value things like loyalty, honour and duty. Today loyalty from Millenials and even Gen X and Gen Y'ers is primarily to one's friends and not to the greater good. Definitely they don't feel the same attachment to brands. If they are the attachment is governed more on the basis of convenience rather than values.

So this got me thinking about brands and loyalty in travel in the age of social media. Bear with me on this one - I think its one of those observations that I hope you will think about.

Therefore it is important for us to consider when pitching to these groups to understand their motivation. While this is probably not a light bulb idea for most people who read this blog - it has taken me quite some time to appreciate it and the depth of the sentiment. It must be that nostalgic streak in me.


Listening to the young ladies that were interviewed for the program it somewhat unnerved me to think that they had come to separate the essence of their relationships by splitting the concept of Love Making, Friendship and Intimacy. So too one can infer that these same people have the ability to separate their sentiments and desires when it comes to making purchases - especially for life-style products such as Travel. Please note I am not criticizing this behavior, merely trying to understand the impact of the core thinking by this class of people who are clearly very important to our market.

I put this down to the ability of the young to multi-task like never before and to compartmentalize their emotions and decision making skills. Both left and right sides of the brain. Would that I had that natural skill or that my own brain was rewired in this way. (Banishment of guilt!!!!)

The challenge of brand building in this environment must be enormous. It is probably more relevant today than at any time in the past when one appreciates how difficult it is to build a long lasting brand in this "noisy" environment and just how quickly it can evaporate.

Think about it... ponder the question. Can loyalty actually exist in today's Social Media?

Comments please at your convenience. And don't worry - I wont shout at you nor attempt a virtual Hook Up!



Roberg said...

If your theory about brand loyalty is correct, it presents a good news and bad news situation. First the bad news. Simply, it is much easier to lose customers to the competition. But this is also the good news for us and for consumers. We are the competition to our competitors which means that we have opportunities to grow our businesses. And now the good news for consumers - we grow our businesses by providing better services and products. Once we have the consumer as a client or or customer we keep that customer, not by loyalty, but by continuing to provide a better product or service ... and consumers are willing to pay a premium if we can do that.

This is where I believe airlines in particular have made mistakes. They disguise price increases by unbundling their product, and then say they are giving the the consumer a choice to pay only pay for services they want to use. They especially rely on frequent flier programs to create brand loyalty.

I believe that if they do a better job improving their product and service (and by service I don't mean convenient and frequent schedules) they will stand out and succeed because they do what they do well. Here is an example. They now want me to pay to check my baggage when I never had to do that before. I resent that now I have to pay for a service that was free before. But if they added a service guarantee, for example delivery to the carousel within 30 minutes of the plane arriving at the gate, I might be willing to spend that $15.00 happily.


Anonymous said...

Dear Professor,

-I am a Generation Y'er,
-I'm American,
-I work (kind of) in the Travel Industry,
-I believe in brand loyalty.

I'm not a mouthpiece for my "generation", if you can call it that; but I will say that I do identify more with the American socio-economic circumstances of my grandparents than my parents. I don't seek to drive a Lexus, I don't seek to "do deals" at the Four Seasons, and I don't aspire to a Golden Parachute as my career highlight. I sure as hell don't play golf, either. I'm here to kick ass and stay late and close challenging deals; and you execu-babble-speaking, one-more-bonus-seeking dilettantes had damn well better be afraid of me and my type. I'm in for the long-haul, baby boomers. Longer than you.

Professor, don't categorize Younger People as a risk to business. Sure, there are a lot of us who want to be like our Baby Boomer parents who destroyed American business and drove BMWs. But the smartest and most driven of us have recognized their selfish errors; and won't repeat them. There are no more 'fast bucks' or 'easy money' or 'free lunches' to be had. But there's a damn good life in America to be enjoyed by those who will put in an honest day's work and contribute to the long-term success of a company. None of us are willing to sit around and collect a paycheck while the middle-management politics are played. It's too competitive for that.

And that's Loyalty. I'm 27 years old, and I believe in that. And to one of your points, I'm Platinum on American Airlines for that same reason.


Professor Sabena said...


Thanks for your comment. In point of fact I cut another comment I was going to make as being inappropriate. The comment was that I have found Gen Yers and Millenials to be far kinder and gentler to their fellow man than my generation of boomers.

One of my closest friends had a maturing Gen X child who really brought home the issue of the profligate nature of the Boomers in describing how Boomers had polluted the environment more than any other generation. Not to mention forcing certain protective behavior such as safe sex onto the world.

My point in raising the issue of lack of brand loyalty was to look at the bell curve of behavior. There is far less loyalty than there has ever been. The ease with which a brand can be abandoned is matched only by the speed of the behavior change.

I would say that you are an exception rather than the mainstream. I stand by my original comment that the behavior of today's prime consumers - Gen Yers and Millenials clearly indicates a lack of general loyalty.

We as marketeers inside the world of travel must work that much harder on getting the consumers to be attracted and then tied to a particular service or brand.