Is Social Good Replacing Loyalty?
By Hilary Murphy Professor & Researcher, Ecole hoteliere de Lausanne, HES-SO//University of Applied Sciences Western Switzerland | February 21, 2016
Co-authored by Meng-Mei Chen Assistant Professor of Marketing at Ecole hotelière de Lausanne, HES-SO//University of Applied Sciences Western Switzerland.
Loyalty programs have been around since 1981 and have evolved from simple offerings to customised offers for customers in exchange for their continued patronage. This is facilitated by the advent of a more complete single data view of the customer, long sought after by hotels and hospitality related companies. The obtainability of rapid results from complex data mining techniques have now enabled us to reach the point where we can customize offers for customers and reward them in ways that are specific to their needs and desires.
However some companies realise that in this era of the sharing economy, it is not always the consumer who wishes to be rewarded himself, rather that the rewards are shared with others to provide some form of social contribution, more recently referred to as "social good". This "social good" exceeds the usual goodwill of, for instance, giving spare change at the end of your flight or donating your extra miles or converting points to cash for charity. This somehow inflates the value of the original purchase to the customer as, increasingly, we know that customers seek comfort and reassurance that their purchases are somehow authentic and socially-conscious.
The Advent of "Social Good"
The evolution of social good is rooted in the notions of charity and philanthropy and includes a variety of concepts such as; corporate social responsibility (CSR), conscious capitalism, environmentally awareness, social entrepreneurship and the wider concept of "giving back". The concept has been more recently referred to as "social good", because increasingly it is social media and social networks that facilitate and promote sharing beyond immediate self- interest. The widely accepted definition of "social good" is "the process of using social media and social-focused communities to create a positive impact on your surrounding environment". It suffers from the same heated debate that covers the contradictions around "doing good and doing well" and this controversial oxymoron has evoked discussion that has waxed and waned over the past century and has preoccupied thinkers for nearly 2000 years (Avi-Yonah, 2005). Do human beings perform selfless, charitable acts for purely altruistic motivations or is it more likely that the act of selfless giving provide social and emotional benefits to givers? The more cynical among us may also perceive it as slick advertising or "jumping on the bandwagon" when companies exploit their efforts towards "social good" in their campaigns and wider marketing communications, particularly those on social media.
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