Progressive Innovation: The Key to Retention, Advocacy & Growth

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My Nike FuelBand stopped working last week. It’s kaput. After wearing it most all of my waking hours since I brought it home on St. Patrick’s Day last year, my right wrist is naked. I miss it. There’s quite a void.

Normally when it comes to the technology in my life, such a loss would be cause for a minor celebration. When the old one breaks, there’s nothing stopping me from immediately running out and getting the newest model. The excitement of fresh new utility immediately replaces any sense of loss.

Those who know me know that I rarely even wait for what I have to break. The draw of the new is so powerful that I often shelve technology that is working perfectly just to experience the latest and greatest.

So why am I still sad?

Well, the problem is there is no latest and greatest Nike FuelBand. The model I bought almost 2 years ago is the same model I’m forced to buy today. Sure, I have the choice of more colors, but the core utility I was so excited about on my first day is still the utility I would be buying today. In my world, that’s a reason not to buy.

When Nike launched the FuelBand, I immediately jumped on the bandwagon. The device played an important role in my life. It helped me realize just how much of a slug I could be when I was working and it motivated me to get up on my feet and keep moving everyday. The daily pursuit of my “goal” helped reinforce my active behaviors and keep me healthier than I would otherwise be without it.

From the beginning, I wore the band proudly and sang its praises to all who wondered why I was suddenly wearing a bracelet. I imagine over the past two years, I’ve contributed to the sale of two-dozen or more devices. I was madly in love and all who knew me, knew about my new favorite thing.

That is, until my first anniversary last March.  You see, I’ve been trained by Apple to enjoy a regular cadence of fresh new capabilities. I expected that Nike would refresh the FuelBand through regular software upgrades so that I could do what I was doing even better and importantly, could do even more to be healthier. I also expected Nike to realize the need to refresh the hardware on an annual basis to open the door to ever expanding utility, which in turn, would fuel my desire to rave even more loudly to anyone who would listen about how important the device was in my life.

Unfortunately, the anticipated software and hardware upgrades never came.  There are rumors of an impending new release, but so far there’s nothing tangible enough to confident in.

So… today Nike is likely losing one of its most loyal customers.  With the need to rethink the relationship, I’ve found alternatives that offer greater utility than Nike and there are several new devices coming to market that offer the potential to transform the value these devices deliver to us all.

Brands, like all of our relationships, need to find ways to stay fresh and interesting in our lives.  When they do, we remain very loyal, often in the face of significant competition.  When they don’t, we’re open to consider alternatives that, in the light of more objective consideration, often prove to be superior to the brands we’ve been loyal to all along.

In today’s world of consumer technology, software driven progressive innovation is the key to customer retention, relationship longevity and advocacy. Without it, even the strongest of relationships are destined to end. And when they do, it’s likely not just for a single product. Often it means unraveling a relationship across multiple products and categories. All of which dramatically reduces share of wallet and stifles growth.

For Nike, that’s the case with me.