As another year is coming to an end and we’re closing out a decade, we’re reflecting on the big loyalty accomplishment we achieved throughout the past ten years in addition to the marketing advancements coming in the future.
Since 2010, there have been several advancements within loyalty program marketing, but probably the most significant one is the shift from transactional to experiential and how we’re now able to communicate on an emotional level, or what we refer to as 1:You.
The days of rewarding on just points or reward dollars are gone. Today’s modern consumer expects brands to provide more. For example, Warby Parker appeals to their customers’ values and sense of worth. For every pair of eyeglasses purchased, a pair of glasses is distributed to school-age children in need. They also empower men and women in emerging and pre-emerging markets to administer basic eye exams and sell glasses at ultra-affordable prices.
We’ll continue to see more brands participate in ‘give back’ programs as this is important to consumers. Additionally, the clothing apparel retailer of Brooks Brothers provides personal shopping assistants to its members along with complimentary tailoring.
While we’ll continue to see experiential marketing enhance, here’s four trends we’ll be tracking throughout the decade to come.
Marketers have the ability to manage the identity of their customers
It’s important to remember that loyalty is permission-based marketing and your customers want to be marketed to. Loyalty programs provide better identity which makes it easier to market to loyal customers. I think of it as a ‘safe harbor’ for marketers, where members offer their Personally Identifiable Information (PII data) and feel confident in knowing this is accurate data.
It’s these loyal customers that marketers should spend a lot of their time and budget dollars on; marketers will spend more time and energy making sure that messages are relevant and consistent across customer touchpoints.
It’s important to understand the true value of loyalty programs
Understanding what your customers (members) value about your loyalty program helps marketers to customize their program offerings to what’s relevant to each individual member.
For example, while points and miles are still very much in demand, today’s consumer is focused on how the brands in which they’re loyal to can save them time. Maybe it’s getting them through the airport security line at a speedier pace, or offering expedited shipping to meet their urgent need and so on.
It’s understanding that there are other benefits that can be more valuable then points and miles such as rewarding consumers for time and providing them with a better experience.
Think with an ‘always on' marketing strategy
Let’s face it. Consumers are always connected. According to Nielsen, adults spend over 11 hours per day interacting with media. Whether they are at work, comparison shopping online, or watching TV, consumers are always on therefore the need for ‘always on' marketing has amplified.
As a brand, you need to identify interactions within the channels consumers are interacting in and react in real time. The days of only communicating with program members in the context of campaigns are long gone.
Consumers are craving a more tailored loyalty experience
Reward programs in the future are going to be less standard for everyone and more tailored to the places that consumers live both physically and online. Brands have begun creating communities of loyalty members allowing them to provide offers and experiences that are local to where they live.
We’ve seen Dunkin’ create offerings that are centered around sports teams. For example, if you live in the Boston area and the Patriots win, you can get a free donut with the purchase of a coffee.
Additionally, communities are starting to provide a more tailored or personalized experience. I recently traveled to Singapore and noticed that the local beer company (Tiger) actually localizes their products according to the communities in which they are distributed.
So as you continue to plan for next year and beyond, think about how these four trends fit within your goals. And keep tabs on partnerships. We’ll continue to see more brands partner together to enhance their loyalty program offerings.