Affinity and Loyalty – Never Underestimate the Experience

There’s a couple solid years of service left in my Lexus, but the wandering eye has come into play – big time.  The funny thing is what I’ve been focusing on.  First of all, its a brand that I have disliked immensely in the past.  There was a point where I would have never wanted it because I didn’t like what I thought it stood for, felt the seats were uncomfortable, felt it was pretentious, boring… need I go on?

I could say my change in taste is based on new design and technology coming off their conveyor belt, but then some of their new designs are pretty tacky. It could be because I’m able to afford the pretentiousness and therefore are pretentious, but who would admit that?  I really believe it has to do with actual experience – not the experience of life or growing up, but an actual experience which ingrained an affinity or loyalty in something that I have never owned.

The auto-maker I’m referring to here is Mercedes-Benz.  I do have a strong liking for other brands like BMW, Audi, Lexus (which has been very good to me) and even Chrysler, Jeep and a couple others, but I’m actually finding myself to have an emotional response to Mercedes-Benz because of an interactive experience.  The experience was in Germany a few years ago.  I was fortunate enough to have been upgraded for free to a Mercedes for my ventures on that amazing thing called the Autobahn.  The car drove beautifully and barely even shook when I drove faster than humans without roll cages, helmets and other safety equipment should dare to do – its a good thing my wife was asleep in the passenger seat.  The other factor was our visit to the Mercedes-Benz museum in Stuttgart.  I never knew that a museum about cars would be as beautifully represented as the museum was, but this one proved it and we spent hours there.

What I can do with certainty is point to those two elements from a trip to Germany over 3 years ago as the reason for my feelings now.  Again, I was not in the frame of mind for purchasing a car then.  I wasn’t even thinking about what kind of car I could want – it was all about a great experience.  The experience was not within any purchasing cycle, season or other.  It was just a solid experience.

So, whether you think you are a brand or not, or whether your product or brand is relevant at certain periods in the year or a person’s lifecycle, there is nothing as powerful as the Experience to increase the possibility of future sales.  Sometimes you have control of that experience (like the MB Museum) or sometimes, it’s luck ( the MB rental upgrade) but what you can control is the enabling of Experience.  Much like I look at Non-Profit events as enabling people to give where they might not have otherwise, Companies should always be mindful of how can consumers can be given the opportunity to have good experiences with their brand or product, because that’s where Affinity and Loyalty come from – not just shiny ads or logos…

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