In fact, the COLLOQUY/FanXchange 2014 Experiential Rewards Research found that churches came in a distant fifth. Seventy-three percent of Canadians stated they are “extremely loyal” or “somewhat loyal” to their favourite bands, with loyalty to their pets a close second at 72 percent. Sports teams finished third with 65 percent and university/alma maters fourth at 46 percent, followed by church/house of worship at 41 percent.

The June 2014 online survey of 1,005 English-speaking Canadian consumers provided these consumer loyalty insights.

Though bands edged out pets in the overall numbers, they held a broader lead in various demographics, such as the western provinces and respondents in the 30-39 year-old age bracket. For example, 74 percent of western Canadians claim loyalty to their favourite bands, compared to 65 percent for pets. Among Canadians in their 30s, 78 percent of respondents professed loyalty to their favourite bands, a full 10 percent point advantage over pets (68 percent).

The research reveals loyalty to a favourite band is lowest in the Maritimes (66 percent), where pets own the top spot (81 percent). Gender stereotyping presumes that men are more loyal to their favourite sports teams than women, but the research demonstrates a significant gap of 73 percent to 57 percent.

Delivering positive experiences

Why do bands generate such loyalty? One explanation: they deliver an experience, giving fans positive feelings and memorable moments whenever they interact — hearing a song, watching a video, attending a concert.

That reflects a shift in consumer preferences coming out of the recent recession. During trying economic times, consumers tend to be more concerned with tangible results — obtaining “things” that can be accumulated. As economic conditions have improved, one-of-a-kind experiences and special events have become more valued and therefore more preferred by consumers. This is especially true for the younger generation. According to a 2013 study by JWT Worldwide, 72 percent of millennials would rather spend their money on experiences than regular products.

Social media also plays a role. People like being able to post noteworthy personal news on Facebook, and gain satisfaction from sharing their special experiences with friends and family.

Bands to brands

Many corporate brands have taken note of the shift of consumer preferences to experiences and have adapted their marketing campaigns accordingly.

Morley Ivers, CEO of FanXchange, a global technology leader in live event ticket access and co-sponsor of the survey, provided insights on the elements that help bands — and increasingly, corporate brands — effectively leverage unique experiences to establish true connections with fans and consumers.

Authenticity

“Consumers, especially younger generations, can smell a sales pitch a mile away. Transparency is the expectation — being clear, open and honest with your message and what you represent.

Delivering on promises and exceeding expectations 

“With literally a world of options via the internet, consumers can instantly find alternatives. Dependability is a key virtue, and if an unexpected bonus can be delivered, the relationship strengthens and loyalty is reinforced.”

Excitement and energy

“Passion is contagious. Consumers respond to enthusiasm and migrate to people and organizations that really care about what they do.”

Creating that true connection with fans and customers grows the relationship and enhances long-term loyalty. As reflected in the survey, that can be accomplished through distinctive brand-specific experiences.