How GuildSuper is using a cash-back rewards program to crack the Superannuation engagement code.

An interview with Todd JohnsonGuildSuper Head of Strategy and New Markets  
(Guild Trustee Services manage GuildSuper and Childcare Super)

In my annual review of loyalty program insights (A collection of 12 loyalty program insights from 12 months of 2018), I briefly mentioned how GuildSuper recently launched SUPERSUPER a shopping rewards program (shop-and-save) that gives its members the opportunity to save more to their super, everyday.

They simply shop at 100’s of retailers and a % of their purchases go back as cash rewards into their superannuation account.

Simply brilliant!

In my view, I found this a brilliant break-through solution in a category challenged by member engagement – low care-factor and contributions, especially with younger generations.

My curiosity was too deep to just accept this seemingly simple solution on the surface, so I met with Todd to gain a deeper understanding of the process and journey that has just started.

Here is a summary of our discussion:

  • What problems where you looking to solve?

Our member base is primarily female (over 85%), the highest female-focused membership of all funds in Australia. While we were achieving a net member growth, it was slow and small. Member contributions to their super accounts were also at a bare minimum.

We also identified that based on their current contributions, many of our members would only achieve a retirement lifestyle just above the poverty-line (sad but true)!

Compounding these problems, is a market-place of low trust with large financial organisations including Superannuation Funds.

We conducted in-depth market and member research to identify the key barriers that members face in making extra contributions to their super.  It was overwhelmingly clear that members are aware of the need to contribute more to their accounts to ensure a liveable retirement, however they just did not know how to do this.

Why? … because they are focused on just making it through the month by living the life of now…mortgage payments (if they have one) or rent, saving for a home deposit, daily expenses, paying off their credit card and whatever is left-over is saved for a holiday.This means there is simply no money to contribute more to super.

So, the problem became glaringly obvious (a blinding case of the obvious), that our members needed a different way to contribute more, now!

  • How did you come up with the SUPERSUPER concept?

Once we had clarity on the problem to solve, we decided that an education strategy (the need to save for retirement) was not the way to go.  They knew ‘why…’, they didn’t know ‘how…’.

They needed a practical, everyday way to contribute.

To do this, we wanted to be 100% focused on the life and challenges of our members.

We created member persona profiles (three of them), named them – Clare, Sandra and Elaine and made them ‘real’ and visible amongst our team so that everyone could live their lives. We even colour coded them and had the team wear coloured t-shirts to represent them.

Once we were living “in the skin” of our members and their challenges, we dived into solution mode. It was clear that we needed to find a way to give them access to some sort of savings on a frequent basis and focused on the question of ..."how can we make her shopping cheaper?"

A loyalty/rewards program was always an option. However, after some research we realised that something unique was needed rather than just a rewards/ savings program or a discount program.

With a ‘what if…’process, we explored the concept of ‘what if we give our members back the savings generated from a rewards program as cash into their superannuation fund?

We tested this with customers and the response was overwhelmingly positive…“omg, is this for real?”

From there we scoped out the solution, found relevant partners to build and deploy with a focus on one word - SIMPLE.

It had to be simple to understand and experience. It had to be mobile and digital.

The solution was built.The SUPERSUPER message was developed (fun, quirky and different) with a focus on our female base.

  • What three challenges did you face to get it into market?

#1. Create a fantastic customer experience with simplicity at its core because we needed to change habits.

#2. Overcoming the perception that it was too good to be true. Members were sceptical and trust had to be built.

#3. Creating a habit. We need members to use it a few times for the process to sink in and give them proof that it’s worth doing.

  • What results are you achieving to-date?

SUPERSUPER was launched on 18th October 2018and seven weeks in (interview on 11 Dec) we are 50% ahead of the sign-up targets we set in the business case and more than 3x the number of new members joining directly than before we had this offer in market.

While I cannot reveal too much detail at this stage, I can say that existing members are signing up on daily basis with some members already contributing $100’s into their funds.

We have achieved huge awareness through PR and media and we have heard that other Superannuation Funds are keen to replicate what we have developed and deployed.

As an unintended consequence there has been a massive shift in our team’s engagement with SUPERSUPER and a deeper connection to the business and the purpose that we are helping our members towards a wealthier retirement.

  • Looking back, what would you do differently?

In hindsight, I think that the project could have had been broken into smaller project teams and we should have launched with an APP rather than a responsive website and so now the APPis in development.

  • What’s next?

We are evolving the solution to give our members direct visibility of their account as it grows – thanks to their savings earned from SUPERSUPER.

We are also adding more online retailers for our members to shop-and-save at and contribute those savings back into SUPERSUPER.

And there are some very exciting initiatives on the way, so watch this space in 2019!

Summary

After meeting Todd and hearing more about their SUPERSUPER journey I was even more impressed with the brilliance of this rewards-based solution.

For me, there are three simple insights (there are many more):

  1. Gain clarity on the problem to be solved by living the life of your customer - wear their t-shirts!
  2. Align your team on the purpose …cannot emphasise this enough
  3. Iterate the solution (research as you go) with your customers so that you keep true to point 1. above

Finally, sometimes the simplest solutions are staring you in the face.

To find the beauty of “cleverness” simply look in the mirror with your customers face on.

Have a happy loyalty day!

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