Action loyalty, in short, is the grand culmination of cognitive, affective, and conative loyalty blasting in a crescendo emblematic of what most business owners would consider true loyalty. To achieve action loyalty with your customers is to reach a true synchronicity with the human who is patronizing your business; your business is a piece of their personality and a proud piece of their outward preferences. Forming action loyalty with your customers is perhaps one of the strongest forms of security for your business, as customers who exhibit action loyalty are the most likely to come back to your business out of respect for you and your brand.
What is Action Loyalty
In his study “Whence Consumer Loyalty,” Dr. Richard Oliver describes action loyalty as the “commitment to the action of rebuying.” And then in many more words, Dr. Oliver explains the key signs of action loyalty exhibited in consumers: action loyalty exists only in customers who have already bought/experienced your product and then actively choose your product over other choices in the same field. For example, A business is closed on Sunday. Then, on a Sunday, a customer arrives at your business seeking a product they have purchased from you in the past. Seeing that your business is closed, a consumer exhibiting action loyalty would then wait until your business is open again to purchase/experience your product specifically. Consumers who lack action loyalty to your brand would go somewhere else to get what they need on that same Sunday.
Action loyalty is exhibited both in the tendency to repurchase as well as the tendency to turn down alternatives to a certain product. Consumers with action loyalty would inconvenience themselves to patronize your business again.
Tips to Achieve Action Loyalty
Establish a Niche
Being that one of the key elements of action loyalty is the preference for your product over others in a similar space, it is essential that your products and brand do something all their own. Or more specifically, your customers need to earnestly believe there is something special inside your product or brand. More often than not, this means establishing and cultivating a niche within an existing industry. Your goal, in a way, is to find a subset of customers or a subset of an industry in which you can heavily gear your products, brand, and whole outward appearance toward catering.
A great example of niches lies in the music industry. Consider niches like genres; it’s all music, but a genre is a demarcation for a style or like-minded feeling. Every industry has its own genres. For example, bakeries that make specialty products or cater to specific crowds like vegans, pet owners, or people with food allergies are taking advantage of a niche. In the case of all three of these demographics, traditional bakeries likely do not suit their needs outright, so a bakery that goes out of its way to suit their needs is implicitly more attractive. Simply having the tools to cater to a niche, however, is only half the battle when seeking action loyalty; use all the tools in building cognitive, affective, and conative loyalty to build a customer relationship and action loyalty will hopefully come about as a result!
Know the Alternatives Your Customers May Seek
To have your brand chosen over alternatives, you must know those relevant alternatives inside and out. America is known for its variety of choices; this likely rings true for your specific industry as well as most other industries that would seek action loyalty in their customers. Take it upon yourself to follow the footsteps of how your potential customers may interact with your business. Then, see what other competitors show up on that same path. Whether simply Googling “pipe fitters near me” or genuinely interacting with your competitors to understand their unique appeal (or even pricing), consider that action loyalty usually follows common sense: if there is a near-identical product vastly undercutting the price of your own, you need to give customers the cognitive incentive to believe your product is superior.
Action Loyalty is Bound to Strong Brands
Distill the benefits of patronizing your business and associating with your brand into tangible, relatable terms. Sit down with trusted staff and management to find if you already have an existing trend among your customers you can emphasize. If not, go out of your way to develop one. Action loyalty requires customers to turn down alternatives in favor of your brand and product, so imagine this: a densely populated urban area has several competing grocery stores. Groceries aren’t a specialty service, so it is up to each store to build loyalty with their customers or lose them to very local competition. Each store ought to ask themselves “who already shops at my store” or “who do I want to shop at my store?” Whether you are the discount store, gourmet store, import store, health food store, or any other tangible style of store, having and holding that specific brand appeal is the basis of action loyalty. This example extends far beyond grocery stores and the general lesson is simple: action loyalty attaches itself to strong brands.
Routines and Rituals
Attaching and including your business in the daily routines and rituals of your customers is a veritable fast track to action loyalty. This is more specific (and emotionally bound) than the act of conative loyalty. Conative loyalty simply implies that customers return to your business after an initial transaction but intertwining with rituals and daily routines means that a business is part of a customer’s preferred daily path and routine.
Capitalizing on existing rituals and routines varies widely by industry; each industry has different expectations as to when their customers ought to come back. Consumer repair technicians, for example, aren’t likely to find their way into the daily or weekly routines of their customers… but that doesn’t mean they are wholly out of the action loyalty game. Our dentists and doctors are deeply intertwined with our semi-annual rituals. Take a note out of doctors’ and dentists’ books and find tactful ways to schedule future visits and check-ins with customers. At first, this is nothing more than conative loyalty. But over time and repeat positive experiences, this is one of the most likely paths to develop action loyalty.
Loyalty is Your North Star
Action loyalty is perhaps one of the most tangible examples that a customer prefers your brand over another. While cognitive loyalty is the basis of knowing a product is more premium, this says nothing about the customer’s individual preferences. On those preferences: affective loyalty means that a customer positively associates with your brand but says nothing about their willingness to patronize your business. And conative loyalty expresses, indeed, customers’ willingness to come back after an initial interaction but action loyalty trumps all: even if the customer is personally inconvenienced on the road to get your product or patronize your brand, they still do it.