It’s never too late to launch a loyalty program!

Loyalty Leader Miranda Bliss sharing valuable lessons from designing and launching Adore Beauty’s loyalty program in 2021

An interview with Miranda Bliss - Loyalty and Retention Manager of Adore Beauty

My series of articles on ‘Loyalty Leaders’ continues with a fascinating interview I had with Miranda Bliss – Loyalty and Retention Manager of Adore Beauty.

Miranda is an experienced loyalty professional (some more background below) and from what I heard in the interview, it was clear she needed every ounce of that experience to design and develop Adore Beauty’s loyalty program during 2020 and bring it to market in March 2021.

Miranda shares her journey to-date with so many learnings and insights (especially those in question 7).

For me, the best lesson is …it’s never too late to launch a loyalty program!

1. So, who is Miranda Bliss (outside of work)

Before joining Adore Beauty I worked at Vintage Cellars (3 years) with their Wine Club. Previously to that I was at JR/Duty Free (3.5 years) where I was given the opportunity to redesign and reinvigorate their loyalty program.

A loyalty program in the duty-free retail space is quite unique and my focus was to make it more viable for the business and more meaningful for their members … and this introduced me to my love of loyalty programs!

Besides work, I’m lucky enough to have an amazing group of friends and family who I spend the majority of my free time with. I love trying new bars and restaurants, improving my yoga and travelling (when I can). For now, our family farm on the Mornington Peninsula is the next best thing!

Oh, and a fun fact…my Uncle actually pioneered private label credit cards and the store card at Harrods. He worked on loyalty programs since the 60s and I like to think it runs in the blood! He even wrote a book.

The book written by Michael Bliss - Miranda's uncle.

(Loyalty programs are in Miranda’s DNA …literally)

2. About the new Adore Beauty loyalty program…any stats you can share

We have been overwhelmed with the response both from customers and the industry.

We received over 20,000 signups in the first week and we can already see the uplift in the average order value and frequency compared to non-members.

Our key measures of success are signups, retention rate of members and frequency of purchases.

3. What made Adore Beauty decide to launch a loyalty program?

We listened to our customers!

It had been an initiative Adore Beauty had been looking to introduce for many years and with the growth we received during the 2020 COVID-19 period, it was clear we needed additional ways to retain this incredible number of new customers we had acquired, over 500,000!

Many of the benefits introduced are hygiene factors such as birthday and welcome offers along with progress levels, but we didn’t want to stop there.

We have introduced a number of personalised benefits which differentiate the program and will allow us to continue to scale the program and reward members along their unique beauty journeys.

4. What is the most unique element of the new program?

Other than the level of personalisation it would have to be the benefit that upon joining a customer’s previous 12 months spends counts towards their level.

Our motto is about “rewarding you for being you” and this is another great benefit that rewards customers for their loyalty to Adore as we don’t expect them to start from scratch when they join.

I have not seen this benefit too often and it was especially important to us as Adore Beauty has been going for 21 years and this was one way to uniquely recognise our customers.

5. What were the top 3 challenges you faced in getting the program to market?

  1. Competing business priorities: While developing the program, Adore Beauty was not only experiencing incredible growth, launching a number of other strategic initiatives but was also undertaking a successful IPO. The timelines and resources needed to shift with the changing needs of the business.
  2. IT Resources: As a pure play online retailer IT resources are always in demand with the constant improvements to our offering. To my point above and being such a dynamic business, Adore is always improving the customer experience and growing our channels and as a result locking down IT resources was and will continue to be a challenge.
  3. Making it happen remotely: I joined Adore Beauty during COVID-19 and created and implemented the program in nine months whilst working fully remotely. As you can imagine it was challenging to work in this unique manner with a new team, a business I was still learning about and systems I was adjusting to. On the flip side, it also taught me how resilient and adaptable people can be when required.

6. If you could start your program again…what would you do differently

Definitely not start in the middle of a pandemic – which is something you cannot control! Interestingly COVID-19 actually accelerated the need for a program!

As for doing anything differently, no, I would go about the process in the same way again.

7. What advice would you give to brands thinking about a loyalty program?

I would recommend thinking about these steps:

  1. Firstly, establish if the need for a program exists.
    • Understand whether it will improve the offering?
    • Identify if the brand needs it to stay competitive?
    • Can it differentiate with the competition?
    • Is it something customers are asking for?
  2. Ensure the program considers these principles:
    • it's simple to join and interact with
    • provides an emotional connection
    • delivers tangible value
    • surprise and delights
    • differentiates against competitors and
    • can continue to evolve.
  3. If yes to all the above, then I’d look at an initial framework and commence commercial modelling to ensure it can deliver a positive ROI.
    • This needs to continue to be revised as the structure becomes finalised and as the program develops.
  4. I would then bring every department along for the journey to ensure greater buy-in and support.
    • Ask questions of the subject matter experts.
  5. Then I would recommend thorough research with the proposed framework, via focus groups and online forums, to gain valuable insights and ensure you’re setting yourself up for success.
    • At Adore we looked at everything from the industry, loyalty programs in general, and what existing customers and competitor shoppers wanted out of our program.
    • It was extremely valuable to hear the feedback first-hand and to mould the program into something that was truly in demand.
  6. Finally, I would remind brands to continue to check in on the program and ensure that it stays true to your brand values.
    • You don’t want a disconnect as customers will sense that immediately.

8. What do you think is creeping up on programs that could disrupt them for better or worse?

With the changes set for Google to remove the use of third-party cookies, the ability to collect and analyse customer data will be more powerful than ever before.

The value of a healthy and sticky database and a loyalty program will only continue to heighten and be more appealing for both the business and its partners. Their value has been accentuated and our loyalty program will dramatically change how we operate.

9. What’s the most underestimated force behind a program’s performance?

The continuous need to develop and improve the program.

Members' expectations only continue to grow and that needs to be satiated through increasing the tangible value of benefits, improving each interaction with the program and its surprise and delight elements.

The program can’t just be ‘set and forget’.

A good program is not enough, it needs to be great!

10. What are three important skills a loyalty program marketer needs?

  1. They must be customer driven to truly understand what a member wants from a program, how they want to interact with it and how they can create a customer value exchange.
  2. At the same time, they must be commercially focused to ensure they can develop and maintain the program to drive value for the business.
  3. And finally, they need to be collaborative, in order to work across functionally to bring the program benefits to life and allow it to continue to develop. The program can't work in isolation to the rest of the business and its promotional plan.

11. Leave us with a lasting loyalty thought

The minute you join a business you can no longer be subjective. Don’t be arrogant, always research, talk to customers, listen to their points of view and you’ll be surprised by the little things they say that make a huge difference.

Continue to undertake regular research with both your existing and potential customers and be driven by the insights.

Summary

There are too many insights in this article to summarise. 

As already mentioned, for me the fact that a brand as well loved as Adore Beauty and having been in business for 21 years, launches a loyalty program in 2021, is just brilliant.

Well done.

Have a happy loyalty day!

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