Although the concept of "customer loyalty" isn't new, only recently have companies worked on implementing formal strategies and tactics in order to create brand fidelity. These devices attempt to focus on what is most important to the customer and ensure that the firm delivers on these values.
While this concept follows general logic, what seems to still be evading most major corporations is the idea that not all customers are the same – particularly when dealing with transnational companies.
Case in point: Nike's recent disastrous St. Patrick's Day promotional campaign in Ireland. In an attempt to rev up excitement and brand promotion before the big day, Nike released a new sneaker – the The Nike SB Black and Tan Quickstrike. The shoe is named after an alcoholic beverage of similar color that's made by mixing together a stout and lager beer (typically Guinness and Harp) in a glass.
Although this sounds harmless enough, "Black & Tan" drinks are an American creation – never ordered in Ireland and a completely foreign concept to the average Irish consumer. To make matters worse, during the Irish Revolution in the 1920s, the "Black & Tans" British paramilitary group was infamous for its vicious attacks against Irish civilians in their attempt to suppress the revolution. The sneaker release has since resulted in a major backlash against Nike in Ireland, with customers calling the campaign ignorant and insulting.
To read the full story, click here.
What can we learn from Nike? While their concept may have been rooted in a creative means to embrace a cultural celebration, their ignorance of the general public they were targeting created the opposite effect- they managed to insult an entire country.
It is imperative that as globalization continues and companies continue to expand their presence in new countries, that they recognize that cultural individuality still remains. One loyalty program or retention campaign is not going to work for customers in the US, Mexico, England and Singapore. In order for international companies to really maintain the loyalty of their customers on the ground, they need to first understand those customers as a unique community unto themselves.
To learn about a specific market, and how to improve and increase your customer loyalty, visit one of Terrapinn Loyalty World events:
Loyalty World Mexico (May 15-16)
Loyalty World Brazil (September 25-27)
Loyalty World USA (October 29-31)