A collection of 12 loyalty program insights from 12 months of 2018

This is my personal collection of 12 of my favourite loyalty and rewards program learnings and insights from the past 12 months.

Some have been identified from our 'For Love or Money 2018' research and others I have found from keeping an eye on the ever-changing loyalty landscape.

They are not ranked nor allocated to any particular month.

They are simply a summary of my curated posts or created articles from the past year that I believe are worth reflecting on as you consider your 2019 loyalty and rewards program strategies.

I have provided numerous links to more detail, so you are welcome to click away  and dig deeper (please come back).

1. Loyalty and rewards programs are alive and well:
New programs are still being designed and deployed world-wide, such as Uber, Pizza Hut, Big W, Easyjet (to name only a few) and many more are being re-evaluated, refreshed and re-launched. Programs are still a valuable asset to business and continue to be challenged to improve their benefits and interaction with their members.

2. Innovating with a rewards program – how GuildSuper uses a rewards program to crack the Superannuation engagement code:
In a category that typically has the problem of low engagement with younger generations and contributions that can often be left to stagnate, SuperSuper is an insightful, smart and audience centric solution using shopping rewards (shop-and-save) as a platform to solve those problems.

3. Blockchain, cryptocurrency and loyalty programs - hype, hope and reality:
With all the hype and hope, the best insights on the reality comes from this article by David Feldman – Blockchain & Loyalty: A solution in search of a problem. It’s a detailed article and worthwhile reading.

4. Program membership acquisition success begins (and ends) at sign up:
I completed a small study on the member sign-up experience (in-store) which provided some valuable insights. Remind yourself of the Five insights from joining 39 loyalty and rewards programs in-store

  • Visibility of the program increases sign-ups and reinforces reasons to join
  • Team knowledge sells the benefits
  • Team enthusiasm and ‘love for the program’ makes it exciting to join
  • Sign up at POS to maximise the member growth opportunity
  • Obtain the minimum amount of data and give reasons for asking for sensitive data.

5. Surprise and delight lives on:
Fundamental to building an emotional connection with members, surprise and delight moments still connect with members, when they are beyond what’s expected. Two worth mentioning that I experienced were:

- Dymocks Booklovers offering to retrospectively add my past purchases into my newly activated loyalty account.

- Novotel Darling Harbour Sydney (Accor Plus Loyalty Program), left me a handwritten welcome back note and bottle of wine on a recent repeat stay.

6. Paid subscription levels for programs are more prevalent:With flybuys indicating they are offering a new premium subscription tier Flybuys Max to their program, it highlighted the opportunity to explore the value and viability of a subscription model for programs. In this article, I provided seven factorsto consider when you are planning a paid subscription offering as part of a program or the program itself.

7. Complexity still confuses me:
Chipotle launches their loyalty program in the US. Here’s their proposition…. Enrollees in the program who order online or via the app earn 15 points for every $1 they spend, while those who order in person receive 10 points, according to the company. A free entrée requires 1,250 points.

What do you need to spend to earn a free entrée?  If you can answer this in less than 3 seconds please let me know.

8. Queues to join a rewards program – what a joy!
On a recent trip to Singapore I saw a line of people waiting to join the Sands Rewards Lifestyle program (Marina Bay Sands Singapore). What a delight to see that programs have people lining up to join!  It's full of benefits (you need to look through their site to digest all the offers), is mobile and perhaps the secret sauce is that it is visible in the centre (sign up booth), attracting a crowd - which attracts a crowd (fomo and social proof).

9. Is loyalty program data being used to enhance the members’ experience or invade their privacy?
The article I wrote based on the insights from For Love or Money 2018 reveals the extent data is used by programs as an “enhancer” of the shopping experience or an “invader” of privacy. While the use of data is important, the protection of it, is paramount! A few new data breaches are worth noting – Marriott; Dunkin Donuts and the list of Australian data breaches are reminders for loyalty program managers on how much rigour is needed to protect their loyalty program members’ data and general customer data.

10. The DNA of a valuable loyalty and rewards program:
The DNA methodology I developed has 4 stages and 19 elements to ensure your program has been rigorously developed for maximum impact and success. You can download a copy here.

11. Best-in-class loyalty and rewards programs are a blend of five benefit categories:
In case you missed it, here is the framework I developed that provides guidance for any brand considering a new program or a reviewing an existing program to ensure they have a blend of benefits across the five categories of benefits:

Transactional = “Reward and remunerate me”
Experiential = “Acknowledge and appreciate me”
Useful = “Make life easy for me”
Personal = “Show me that you know me”
Social = “Connect me with others”

12. What is loyalty?
For my 12th insight, I am drumming my old beat of ‘what is loyalty?’.
Why? Because, when you know what loyalty means to your organisation then you will have the power to motivate that outcome, profitably. We have researched loyalty from a consumer’s point of view – beyond enrolling in a loyalty program (For Love or Money 2017 and 2018) and have formed a definition:

Loyalty is both behaviour and beliefBehaviour is a transactional connection identified by purchasing moreand more oftenover the longer term where similar competitive forces are in play. Belief is an emotional connection where trust is inherent and recommendations are the result.

What’s your definition of loyalty?

It has been a fascinating year for loyalty and rewards programs.

For me, the never-ending quest for more insights continues into 2019 as we plan for our 7th annual customer loyalty and loyalty program research study ‘For love or money 2019’, which will no doubt reveal more trends and insights on the loyalty landscape.

Have a happy loyalty year in 2019