Thierry Henry, Brand Loyalty and Location Intelligence


People who know me will understand that I can turn any conversation around to football – well to Arsenal actually. Consequently I have taken a lot of stick from friends and colleagues who all seem to be Chelsea or Tottenham fans over Thierry Henry switching his loyalty to Barcelona despite pledging his eternal love for Arsenal and the fans as little as a year ago. Truth is I was gutted at this desertion and wished our ex-hero less than no success, then i was slightly cheered up by the thought that Arsenal may have been happy to let him go.

Last week the AGI suppliers SIG met for our regular discussion about matters of common interest within the GI industry (a very good new group within AGI that I would commend to other businesses in the industry). As is our wont we retired after a modest period of discussion to a nearby restaurant for beer, curry and a chat. You might be surprised to know that the leadership of some of the largest companies in our industry all seem to be Chelsea fans, only MapInfo is represented by a Gooner. Anyway apart from endless mickey taking they challenged me that I couldn’t come up with a geo article about Henry’s defection.

My immediate response to Henry’s defection was along the lines of

“Typical, he takes off to Barcelona for riches and success and leaves us fans

who have paid his wages through ticket sales, subscribed to Sky and bought the shirts for our kids.”

Then I realised why we were left behind, well at least the die hard fans who attend matches come rain and shine and when the team is winning or losing. It is a unique form of brand loyalty that is reinforced by a strong location limitation. Where are we fans going to go? Well you can forget about switching to Chelsea or Tottenham or West Ham, even though my family could conceivably get to their stadia it just isn’t going to happen, btw we live 5 stops from Emirates on the tube. So why not switch affections and loyalty to Man U which is what half of the fair weather football fans in the world have done? Location of course, we are football fans who love to watch live football regardless of whether the team are doing well, otherwise we could follow Henry to Barcelona and start supporting them.

So what we have is an extreme example of brand loyalty (even when the brand icon sh*ts on you) backed up by a location fence that prevents us from switching to another club. I imagine there are other examples of similarly locationally locked relationships including utilities providers, mail services, petrol stations, supermarkets to name but a few.

So there you go – a bit contrived but I think it is good enough for the Suppliers SIG to buy me a couple of drinks at our next meeting. If you want to find out more about the SIG mail Chris Holcroft or call the AGI office and come along to our next Curry Club. We talk about GI as well as football.