Apostle Model of Customer Loyalty: Definition & Example Video

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  • 0:05 Apple's Brand Apostles
  • 0:52 What Is the Apostle Model?
  • 2:14 What the Apostle Model Does
  • 3:36 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Beth Hendricks

Beth holds a master's degree in integrated marketing communications, and has worked in journalism and marketing throughout her career.

Are there any brands you would consider yourself an 'apostle' of? In this lesson, you'll learn more about the Apostle Model, its matrix categories, and how it is used to gauge customer loyalty and satisfaction.

Apple's Brand Apostles

They eagerly await the announcement of the newest smartphone. They willingly shell out hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars for the latest device. They'll even stand in line at 2 A.M. just to be the first to get it. Fans of Apple products are intense, devoted, and relentless in their pursuit of all things Apple. These diehard enthusiasts create social media groups, websites, even message boards devoted to nothing but the technology giant.

If you didn't know better, you would think your Apple-loving co-worker was actually employed by the company itself. But, he's not. What he is, is something known as an apostle, a customer who is both highly satisfied and highly loyal to his brand of choice.

The science behind this categorization is a loyalty matrix developed at Harvard known as the Apostle Model.

What Is the Apostle Model?

The Apostle Model, most easily displayed in a two-by-two matrix shape, helps brands segment consumers by identifying where they rank on a low-to-high scale of both customer loyalty and overall satisfaction. For example, a highly loyal, highly satisfied customer (like a fan of Apple products) would be a loyalist or even an apostle. A disgruntled, unhappy customer could be a defector or a terrorist, according to the model.

Here's how each category in the Apostle Model is described:

A loyalist is a customer who exhibits high degrees of loyalty and satisfaction to a brand or product. Apostles are the height of loyalists. These are people who assign the highest possible scores to both questions.

Mercenaries are people who are satisfied with a brand, but aren't loyal. They can be easily swayed by a better offer, lower prices, or something new and improved from a competitor.

Just like you'd imagine, a hostage is someone who can't break free of a brand despite being unsatisfied with a product or experience. They might be held hostage to higher prices or lack of a viable alternative that prevents them from switching.

And, finally, defectors have the lowest levels of satisfaction and loyalty in the matrix. The lowest of the low are called terrorists. Consumers in this category not only abandon a brand, but share their poor experiences with friends, family, and even strangers whenever they can.

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