We’re all wandering through the world searching for something to rely on.
People and things let us down and so often it’s the people who made the things inciting most of the disappointment.
So we’re touchingly committed when we find people (or things) who somehow keep their promises and deliver.
I’m driven to such depths of consideration because I’ve just read a treatise on loyalty. Well, less of a treatise and more of a rather large research project that examined the concept of brand loyalty.
Marketing consultancy Brand Keys performs this research every year, to examine which brands inspire emotional commitment from the harrassed and the forlorn and which, well, don’t.
The loyal prerogative
This year’s version offers some stimulating insights.
Robert Passikoff, Brand Keys founder and president, put it this way: “This year’s roster proves meeting or exceeding consumers’ expectations allows brands to transmute market-share and loyalty into category and market dominance. Those brands are ‘Loyalty Juggernauts’ – brands of such overwhelming economic force that their ability to meet expectations makes them far more powerful than universal awareness alone.”
It’s hard to meet expectations on a regular basis. People are so demanding these days. And, thanks to the glories of social media, everyone is so emotional. Update: People were always so emotional, but these days they have more outlets in which to vent and more choices among competing brands.
Please, then, waft with me among some of the juggernauts, the brands that your parents would want you to marry.
Which brand is the number-one loyalty object among smartphones? Apple. What about headphones? Apple, too. And which brand inspires the deepest fidelity when it comes to laptops? Why, not Apple. It’s Samsung.
Whither Microsoft and I?
I scanned the list of winners and couldn’t find one name: Microsoft.
At first, I couldn’t decide whether this struck me as odd or not. Over the last few years, Microsoft has performed relative wonders in changing its image from the slightly contemptible to the surprisingly likable.
Yet when I look at the brand that inspires most consumer loyalty in video chat I see Zoom, not Microsoft Teams. And did I even need to look at the brand that wins hearts in search? I did, but really shouldn’t have. It’s Google.
Naturally, this made me think about artificial intelligence.
Microsoft has leaped upon AI like a starving tiger leaps upon anything containing flesh. It’s taken OpenAI in an almost unseemly loving embrace.
But as the future unfolds — very rapidly — will there exist a concept such as brand loyalty in AI? Will humans choose to trust one company’s AI more than another’s?
Will, in fact, Microsoft incite the most AI loyalty, much as the likes of Apple and Samsung have come to dominate so many categories in which Microsoft faltered?
The likes of Apple and Samsung did a few things right — right? They created products that lifted spirits. They presented them in ways that appealed to feelings, rather than swamped with features.
Can Microsoft do the same with AI? Can it get people to make an active choice and stick with it?
A tiny element of this question may revolve around whether the company’s partnership with Sam Altman and his band of brothers and sisters enhances Bing’s market share.
It seems that this may not be the case — yet — though Microsoft isn’t enamored with the data proferred.
But as Samsung touts AI in its latest Galaxy phones and Apple begins to muse about AI in, well — who knows? — will Google’s constant search dominance transfer to AI offerings?
Or has, perhaps, Microsoft’s almost unseemly aggression in AI made inquiring minds believe that the company isn’t merely leading the way, but is already the most trustworthy?
What matters most, perhaps, is whether people will care where their AI comes from. In AI, will any one brand be the equivalent of Intel Inside? I write this as word emerges that most reputable news sites actually block AI scrapers.
It remains to be seen if this makes a difference to anyone at all — or, indeed, how it might affect the way we consider the world and live our lives.
I can barely wait for the next Brand Keys research that attempts to search for consumer loyalty in AI.
I wonder where it might lie.