Too Much Choice Makes Loyalty an Endangered Species, 2040’s Ideas and Innovations Newsletter, Issue 77

Kevin Novak
3 min readOct 13, 2022

There’s a sea change taking place in social media and streaming platforms which should be a red flag for organizations that offer memberships, subscriptions or use devices that seek to deliver continuous value via consumer consumption, leading to rich sources of recurring revenue.

Members Only

Membership and subscription have become all the rage over the past five years across many businesses. The continual drips of monthly or yearly revenue over time resulting from memberships and subscriptions acts as a steady flow of income. This income is predictable and feeds into solid forecasts. Recurring revenue is the new white in winter. When organizations offer products that result in a one-off, single purchase, revenue is less predictable and comes with high expenses associated with repetitive customer acquisition.

In terms of devices, most are sold at an initial loss for the promise of future recurring revenue. Owners invest in devices knowing they can use them to seek out new content. Whether it’s membership, subscription or an individual’s investment in a device, the relationship between an individual and an organization stems from the individual’s loyalty to the partnership plus the need to justify the money they invested.

An individual’s loyalty to an organization’s membership or subscription offerings is being challenged. What was once a relationship based on dedicated loyalty is now considered a simple transactional relationship to purchase a commodity. We submit that loyalty is being replaced by intention. In an unforgiving cancel culture, organizations will need to engage with their stakeholders differently.

Loyalty vs Intention

First a word about loyalty. It is defined as a strong feeling of support or allegiance. On an emotional level, loyalty is a devotion and faithfulness to a nation, cause, philosophy, country, group, or person. (Wiki) “Loyalty helps build support, which is important for mental, emotional, and physical well-being,” according to VeyWellMind. “Knowing you have people who have your back and will be there for you when you need them can help you feel secure.” Organizations build and nurture loyalty among stakeholders, which has been a traditional relationship and engagement strategy.

Intentions, on the other hand, can be specific ideas, guiding principles or even wishes that we set for ourselves and our lives. They’re like general goals for living or being. Intentions ask the questions, “How do I want to be? How do I want this to be?” as reported by Community Forward. On a higher level, “Intentions allow us to align our hearts, minds, and spirits to form ways we want to live our lives. Daily intentions manifest a sense of focus and empower you to create the kind of day you want to have because you’re stating from the get-go how you want to feel.”

The difference is critical: loyalty is external, intentions are internal. And like most behavior in our marketplace today, the customer is in charge. So, for organizations to be successful they need to respond to the internal values and attitudes of customers, not mold their customers to their external business models.

This distinction is important. Consider your own behavior. Are you loyal to one or a few brands? Practicality wins out in a marketplace filled with an abundance of choice and an audience that seeks what it wants, when where and how it wants it to be delivered. It’s a challenge to not be viewed as a commodity. Yet, this is what has happened in our exponentially expanding universe of consumable content. In the past, the customer may have been considered the commodity as organizations amassed an audience via memberships and subscriptions. The tables have turned, and organizations are now viewed as commodities by consumers. The shift does not bode well for any organization’s bottom line as the promise of recurring loyalty-based revenue dries up.

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Kevin Novak

4X webby winner, CEO and Chief Strategy Officer @2040 Digital (, IADAS Member, Speaker, Author, Science Nut