What we think of as “loyalty” is ever-changing. While new tech is catching a lot of attention, there are underlying strategic tactics that are laying the true foundation for loyalty’s future.
Trend #1: Beyond Points – Think Outside of Brand
When you think of loyalty, you might cringe thinking of points liability, the dynamic of which has made loyalty taboo to many organisations. The good news is that you can build a strong loyalty strategy beyond points and the possible liability headache. In the next few years, we’ll see more and more loyalty strategies based on a foundation of individualised experiences versus earning, using foundational loyalty tactics to collect and unify member data across hundreds of touchpoints to build a relevant value exchange that goes beyond earn and burn, creating a stronger bond with customers.
Trend #2: Paid Subscription and Memberships
Today’s customer – particularly Millennials – seek status and preferential treatment and they are willing to pay for it. 33% of customers between 25 and 44 note the ability to pay for special status and benefits as very important to them1, and we’re seeing the results of premium paid programs across multiple verticals. A monthly or annual fee that unlocks increased benefits hooks the customer into the program, and the experience hooks customers on the brand through richer experiences.
Trend #3: Convergence of Marketing Under Loyalty
There’s no doubt marketers have a lot of data. But what they don’t have are customers proactively linking themselves to data. When thinking in terms of customer journey mapping and growing as a customer-obsessed brand, marketers right now are making decisions around broad segments of anonymous customers. Loyalty is the fundamental mechanism by which a customer self-identifies and volunteers their information to a brand. With loyalty as the anchor, marketers can leverage customer data to transform all areas of their marketing and operations, become a customer-obsessed brand.
Trend #4: Lifestyle Approaches
Brands are broadening their reach to customers beyond their main services and products to embed their brand into their customers’ lifestyles. To hook customers into habitual behaviors, brands are stretching their content, offers and partnerships. For instance, through a workout app, Nike Plus members can unlock rewards to the brand’s partners: Apple Music, Headspace and ClassPass. From there, a member is rewarded and habituated to using Nike’s app, creating stickiness for the brand in all the healthy aspects of a member’s lifestyle. Every stride and step of a customer’s healthy behavior is tracked, building up to personalized offers and creating an experience that blends Nike’s digital and physical worlds. These tactics built around the customer lifestyle reduces friction between the brand and the customer. They enhance the quality of the customer life and often these tools make the customers life easier. The latter is a key benefit of this approach. It’s what keeps bringing the customer back.
Trend #5: Individualised Loyalty
As all these trends grow, loyalty itself will from personalisation facilitated through advanced segmentation to truly individualised experiences. Not only will communications be even more targeted and relevant, campaigns, program constructs and value exchanges will be modified for individuals at scale. With the help of machine learning, loyalty analysts continue to develop the tools that keep members engaged, such offer engines that serve relevant product recommendations, or onboarding programs that take into consideration the hundreds of facets that influence a customer’s behavior and emotional bond with a brand. Loyalty will facilitate removing friction, enhancing convenience and making consumer lives easier.
By Erin Rease
1 Aimia proprietary data from CMO survey conducted 2018
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