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A one-sided relationship isn’t a relationship

Chris Field
Chris Field

Lots of companies I never buy from think they have a relationship with me and, as such, treat me like an old friend.

Truth is, they are wasting their time and money, and making me even more set against them.

Call it the inevitable result of mass marketing, but I think that long-term this ‘faux friendship’ can be very damaging. The company continues to make an assumption about its customer demographics but may be dead wrong. For instance, I am the archetypal shopper at a number of high street chains, but I shop at none of them. In fact, my opinion if them is hostile rather than neutral, and yet here I am – a prized customer – being offered all sorts of incentives to shop there.

This misconception probably stops those retailers going after the people more likely to shop with them, leading to a slow attrition in their customer base, which may never get spotted. Worse, they may end up trying to reach the unreachable, and ignoring the reachable, so they end up missing everyone. Meanwhile, people continue to wander into their stores, counted, but otherwise uncategorised and largely invisible.

I paint a bleak picture because, in some industries, it is clear that there is an increasing polarisation between the good and the bad performers. Marketing continues as a multi-technique, multi-channel process, but seems unable to even get onto the first rung of the personalisation ladder.

I applaud the good and have no care for the bad; my interest is in how it is possible for a company to do what can look like really excellent marketing, but which actually saps value. As a test, I tried to de-register from a loyalty scheme. It can’t be done, so the illusion of a relationship continues.

Now, if any of these companies chose to check my transaction history with them, they might reconsider. But they won’t, will they? I expect special offers to follow me to the grave; in fact, they might even send me there. If this is modern marketing, count me out. Oh, wait…

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