The changing face of consumer loyalty

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Loyalty has a new game – no longer is it about waiting patiently as you collect points to earn your reward. Consumers are increasingly calling for instant gratification when being thanked for their custom.

 

We recently hosted one of our B2B speed dating events, which focussed on matching CRM & Loyalty agencies to brands looking for a new, fresh approach to their schemes. The common theme of the day was brands looking for ideas to push beyond the typical points/reward system to help build a model that helped grow and retain a loyal following of customers.

 

What does this mean for the loyalty game? Building a returning customer base is more important than ever, as finding new customers becomes ever more expensive. Five times more expensive in fact. The probability of selling to a new customer is between 5 and 20 per cent, whereas the probability of selling to a returning customer is between 60 and 70 per cent. Furthermore, loyal customers are worth up to ten times as much as their first purchase.

 

Obviously, we all know the digital revolution has moved us on from stamping cards to collecting points and retrieving them through in store purchases or via an app. But even this model is tiring.

 

Nectar and Boots would seem the obvious success stories when it comes to original loyalty schemes – their ‘loyalty card’ point systems were innovative for their time, and did go digital, but are they being left behind now? More forward-thinking brands, such as Sky with their digital first app, Sky Black and Three mobile, are now coming up with ways to deliver more instant, satisfying gratification to their customers which both drive new sales as well as keep people coming back for more.

 

Don’t get me wrong – money off is probably the most satisfying reward out there. Take Avios & BA – I’m not suggesting these should go anywhere, but what is the future, especially for brands where repeat custom isn’t necessarily a typical thing. Enter brand partnerships…

 

It’s a win-win really. You win by partnering with a brand who can promote you to a new, yet still on target, demographic, and your consumers gain access to a new set of rewards they might not even know they want. Once you show them you can connect them, they’ll keep coming back for more.

 

A brand partnership goes beyond the normal realm of rewards, instead offering a new level of insight into how well you know your customers. And this is the trick. Just as much as personalised emails go a long way in growing repeat business, promotions/partnerships that truly speak to your target demographic can go a long way to prove that you have the customers best interest at heart.

 

One of the most perfect partnerships I’ve seen is British Airways and The White Company – giving first class flyers the perfect night’s sleep at 50,000 feet. Sometimes it’s not about what rewards people can save up to earn, but what they gain by using your service in the first place.

 

 

So, is generating loyalty therefore about adding value over and above your competitors? Loyalty is about everything your brand says and does – it’s not just about rewarding your customers when they purchase, it should run through every touchpoint they receive from you. The average customer is part of over 13 loyalty schemes, it’s not new and customers are always looking to gain more value from them. Start-ups, like Blink, are even capitalising on the amount of loyalty cards a person has by creating a platform to store all of them, in one handy card. As a result, brands have to look at different ways in which to drive brand loyalty, including targeted content, channel choice and personalisation across both of these.

 

Show them how important they are to your brand – invest in their experience with you. Partner with brands that can offer something above and beyond for your customers, build a loyalty scheme that rewards – keep them coming back for more.

 


By Chris Wilson, Brand Partnership Director

 

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