Brand loyalty is sometimes reduced to "promotionalisation" but that can't work as a long-term strategy, according to the most-read article on the subject on Warc in 2016

A Warc Best Practice paper, How to build long-term brand loyalty, warned that this can only be a short-term tactic; building true loyalty – customers who select on more than just price and who recommend the brand to their friends – is a long-term process that requires understanding customers and potential customers in as much detail as possible.

The second most-read article formed part of an ongoing intellectual battle over the benefits of reach versus targeting. Loyalty is the key driver of brand growth made the case for growth through building a higher number of positive emotional relationships with consumers through more memorable brand experiences rather than simply expanding the customer base.

In third place, Loyalty schemes: Why you need to be a loyalty brand, not a brand with a loyalty programme advocated an affinity model – exceeding the functional expectations of a customer – as the way to get consumers to come back over and over again at a time when competition is more disruptive than ever.

Another Warc Best Practice paper took fourth spot: What we know about brand loyalty noted that the subject spans both behaviour and attitude. Loyalty schemes cannot create loyalty, it said, but can cement already existing loyalty – with the best becoming a differentiating part of the brand that can enhance user experience, and strengthen attitudinal loyalty rather than just handcuffing consumers into behavioural loyalty.

In fifth place was a practical example of just such a scheme. How Orbitz built an effective loyalty program outlined the travel website's use of a special currency – one 'Orbuck' equated to one dollar – to simplify its loyalty offering to appeal to a neglected group of customers who only travel once or twice a year.

Data sourced from Warc