The power of "unwritten" loyalty rewards

We’ve been hearing a lot of chatter in the marketplace about how loyalty programs have shifted from transactional to relational. Marketers are advancing their loyalty programs and have embraced experiential reward fulfillment. Companies are now identifying what’s intrinsically driving consumers to their brand and are engaging in unwritten loyalty rewards to enhance members’ experience.

So what are unwritten loyalty rewards? They are tangible or intangible rewards like enhanced services, exclusive experiences or items that help to create a personalized, 1:1 connection with consumers. Monetary rewards are not a substitute for intrinsic motivation.” Adapting ‘intrinsic’ reward fulfillment into loyalty programs is something more marketers are doing today.

Several retailers have embraced the strategy to go beyond monetary rewards and fulfill on intrinsic motivations. For example, with the recent Hurricane Harvey relief efforts, retailers incorporated relief assistance into their promotional offers. When a high end specialty retailer announced that they were going to donate a specific percentage of sales to the relief fund, sales spiked. Why? Because consumers connected with the victims of the hurricane and felt good about giving to this cause. This ‘feel good’ emotion is an intrinsic reward and helps consumers connect emotionally to brands, encouraging loyalty.

Getting to know your members wants, needs and life-stage, are fundamental to be able to fulfill on intrinsic motivations. And, data, communication and testing are integral components:

  • Data: Marketers need to leverage data to understand the ‘types’ of unwritten rewards will have the most meaning to your members.
  • Communicate: Talk to your members, have conversations and get to know them to learn more about what they value and what motivates them.
  • Test: It’s important to test intrinsic rewards to see what resonates best with them. Consider ‘surprise and delight’ options.

Marketers are always looking for ways to modernize their loyalty programs to enhance engagement. Loyalty is a strategy that’s become a corporate initiative focused on the holistic customer experience. And in today’s ‘loyalty world,’ fulfilling on these desired experiences or intrinsic rewards is possible with the alignment of strategic vision and powerful marketing technology.