Loyalty. Noun: a strong feeling of alliance or support. When I hear the word loyalty, I instantly think of dogs and their utter and complete devotion. We use the word loyal most commonly in contexts to describe faithfulness within relationships and commitments to brands or products. But what does it really mean to be loyal?
Media often portray the idea that society is becoming increasingly disloyal. With more opportunities, availability and resources than ever before, we have access to more information across an ever-increasing number of platforms. We are less reliant on a single source for anything – whether it be where we get our news; where we get our groceries or even where we find and meet people. Our lifestyles have evolved to such an extent that not only do we have increased diversity between people, but also increased diversity within people. There seems to be fewer and fewer examples of regimented labels that people uphold, and more and more examples of fluid principles/values that people live by; so much of these varying according to circumstance.
For example, vegan/plant based diets are on the increase, with many people showcasing the fact that they try to source their food this way. Ordinarily, you might assume that this means these people ARE vegan, yet this is often far from the truth. What it actually seems to more commonly mean is that whether that person eats a vegan meal or not is circumstantial, dictated by other underlying values. Their norm is to eat plant based, but this isn’t their everything, and they are willing to stray from their norm for many varying reasons. Perhaps they are visiting family and don’t want to inconvenience family meals. Perhaps they have discovered a sustainably sourced, Organic meat they like. Perhaps they are travelling and want to try a local delicacy. Perhaps their long-time favourite food is all too tempting. Really, the list is endless. Diversity within us often dictates that people no longer label themselves so distinctly (e.g. “I am vegan”), but rather they portray their values with explanations (e.g. “I try and eat mostly plant based meals because…) to decide when they uphold their norms.
With fewer ‘labels’, the ability to demonstrate loyalty is also a lot harder. How can manufacturers keep shoppers when their target audience isn’t a distinct set of people? How can we maintain positive relationships with people when we aren’t quite sure of what their fundamental principles are? The evolution of society requires both manufacturers and people to really invest time and resources to really get to know people in order to evoke loyalty. With lots of peoples’ underlying values being so intricately complex, finding what makes people tick is not a quick task.
It seems that long-term, sustained loyalty can only be achieved with time, ironically something we are often declaring we have less of. But, gone are the days that one good meal using a particular brand or ingredient creates lifelong loyalty to that brand. Gone are the days that one good date leads to long-term relationships. Loyalty now has to really be earned and only those willing to invest substantial time will be able to attain and retain loyalty of anything. Except of course if you are talking canine loyalty. Their loyalty hasn’t evolved and their devotion remains unwaivered…thank goodness.