Kirsten Hasler – a Loyalty Leader and professional marketer with the perfect blend of analytics and creativity

An interview by Adam Posner with Kirsten Hasler -  CRM and Loyalty Manager at IKEA*

One of the highlights of my loyalty life is interviewing incredible people for my series on Loyalty Leaders.

I learn so much about the reality (the good, the challenging, the joyful) of how they lead and manage their loyalty programs.

I also get to know them (and share with you) who they are as humans outside of work.

This Loyalty Leader interview (#18) with Kirsten Hasler of IKEA (*recently promoted to Country Marketing Manager) had all the ingredients of the above (especially who Kirsten is as a human!) and so much more.

Personally, I love the IKEA Family program, however besides that, I found an extra layer of connection with Kirsten as she speaks both my languages – Loyalty Programs and South African!**

(**Yes, originating from South Africa, I know there is no such language as ‘South African’, however, I understand the accent, many colloquial terms and can identify with all aspects of living there).

Kirsten leads the team at IKEA looking after the IKEA Family club and the recently launched IKEA Business Network (small business membership program).

(FYI: With her recent promotion from CRM and Loyalty Manager to Country Marketing Manager, Kirsten is now on the lookout for a loyalty program professional to look after their programs.

(Note to readers: Contact Kirsten here if this is of interest).

Ok, so back to the main agenda - the interview with Kirsten. This is one of the most comprehensive interviews I have written to-date with so many insights and images to add to the flavour of Kirsten's Loyalty Leader story!

Enjoy the read...

1. So, who is Kirsten (outside of work) + a little on your work biography

Note to readers…this is a detailed biography as Kirsten is a fascinating person and we had a long chat, so I have decided to share lots of personal background here (with her approval).

I am a German speaking ex-South African who emigrated to Australia over 20 years ago. My father’s family was German, and I grew up speaking German and English in a bi-lingual home. I went to a German School in Johannesburg and our family went to the German butcher, baker and doctor!

I have been in Australia for over 20 years now and while I feel very Australian, my South African and German heritage have influenced how I see the world. My parents were involved in the post-apartheid reconciliation movement and growing up during that time really helped me form a worldview of inclusivity, equality and kindness and those are the values I have now.

On the other hand, I am described as a classic type A person, always thinking ahead, extremely organised, find it very difficult to relax, and I am constantly on this mission to improve things - whether at work or on myself.

I think it also comes from the fact that I am very conscious of the opportunities I have been given and I don’t want them to be wasted. I do love wine and gardening (often a place to relax even if it’s about pulling out weeds)!

Now for your career…

I studied design at Uni and my first job was at MySpace (established in 2003, arguably the first social networking space…remember those days!) and it was a great introduction to digital marketing and measurement. I worked at Freedom Furniture for a few years and learned about web, CMS and email marketing. I always looked at IKEA as a competitor and then a role came up there and so 10.5 years later, I am still there.

Did you receive a gold watch for 10 year’s service?

No, however I received a Silver Allen Key (how appropriate – pic below). And a very generous gift voucher!

I also had the opportunity to work for IKEA in Netherlands setting up the world-wide social media strategy. In 2018, I returned to Australia to a role ‘Customer and Consumer Engagement Manager’. ‘Consumer’ was about those not shopping at IKEA yet and ‘’customer was about loyalty.

This was my baptism of loyalty learning! And now I am Country Head of Marketing (just promoted!)

2. Tell us about IKEA’s loyalty programs …  any stats you can share

IKEA Family is the global loyalty program and has been around for 34 years, originating in 1988 in Sweden (Pic below of the original loyalty card).

In Australia, IKEA Family was launched 11 years ago.

There are several million members here in Australia and almost half of our transactions are from identified members who scan.

The value proposition is about helping our member bring their dreams to life.

Many Australians know they want to improve their homes but don’t know how to do that. So, the program gives them a range of benefits and rewards to help them do that.

We have exclusive invitations to in-store workshops and exclusive content on home furnishings. They are the first to receive any new offers and find out more about new ranges. We have a very strong IKEA Family first philosophy re any news or releases.

Also, uniquely in Australia, all our offers in terms of discounts are only for IKEA Family members. We feel in Australia especially, it needs to be a strong value exchange. We need to give people a really good reason to sign up to our program and share their data with us and opt into our emails. So, we reward them by giving them those discounts.

And then we have IKEA Business Network which is a brand new loyalty program we launched in May this year.

This came out of the insight that our business customers are extremely valuable across a variety of industries, and they have very different needs than IKEA Family members.

 These members (business people) are much more time poor. The person buying the products has a range of stakeholders to consult with before buying. They need the convenience and are happy to pay for services.

At a global level we developed this loyalty program and Australia was one of the first markets to roll this out. It has very different benefits and rewards vs IKEA Family based on the audience segment and needs. 10,000’s of businesses have joined and our share of B2B transactions has grown by 160% since launching!

3. What is the most unique element of the IKEA Family program?

We try give our members a wide range of rewards. They want a range and choice. We are trying to avoid being a straight points program, where people just earn points and then redeem them – it works for others but not for us. We do have financial rewards - the quarterly reward and we have the $10 signup for new members for instant gratification.

We give them discounted prices for food and events. We know our core members are families and we have great prices on kids’ meals. We have dining events through the year, and they sell out very quickly and we give IKEA Family members special prices.

We donate to local charities on behalf of members each time they scan.

For each scan we donate $0.10c and the total amount donated this year from members scanning is $100,000. This gives them a good reason to scan, and this is a great way for us to connect the purchase to their membership. Team members at POS share them the reason and this helps the identification rate.

We know our members connect better when the donation goes to the local community, and we let the stores choose the local communities to donate to.

Pic below from a 2021 donation to GIVIT, a fantastic Australian organisation who was a recipient of our IKEA Family donations.


We are releasing a new evolution of the proposition next year to make the program even more unique with a new earn and redeem structure … more to come next year!

I also think we have a unique way of offering surprise and delight moments.

We have executed a few of these such as limited merchandise and give-aways at the checkout where every 10th member who scanned received a surprise gift with their purchase.

This year we really wanted to surprise our members in a different way and make them feel very special and create more buzz and PR. And so, together with our creative agency CHEP Network, we came up with the BallerCard.

(I think this is brilliant – a true example of Joyalty*.)

We focused on one of our most iconic food items, meatballs with 250 of our top IKEA Family members receiving a Gold Baller card with a year’s free meatballs (vege, chicken and plant balls also available).

Using the food products also drives visitation back to our stores and in this case was an exclusive and a money can’t buy experience.

We have had some very interesting learnings from this surprise and delight campaign. We were not sure of whether to tell our members it was coming or just surprise them through a direct mail pack with the Baller Card.

We realised that we had an address data quality challenge.

Even though we sent an email asking them to update their data as a surprise was coming, we did not quite get all the updated address data. The learning for us (and others) is how important it is to maintain quality of data.

We did take a risk with this surprise and delight campaign and it is all part of us pushing the edges to keep evolving our program!

(I think the focus on surprise and delight is the most unique aspect of the IKEA Family program!)

4. What are some of the challenges you face on an ongoing basis to keep the program relevant/fresh/thriving (internally and externally) and how do you overcome these?

  1. A challenge is always reminding our members of the value proposition. If they don’t scan or identify themselves at checkout, they tell us it’s because they are not clear on the value proposition. We need to keep reminding them of the various benefits like the charity donation for every scan and the free Oops Insurance – if they break something we will replace it.
  2. The consumer expectation of technology and experience is another challenge. In the age of Amazon, where the buying experience is so seamless and quick, it’s difficult for us at IKEA to keep up with experience expectations.

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

  1. The goals of your loyalty programs should always seamlessly ladder up to your business goals. It can’t be a separate thing. It can’t be this is the direction of the business and the program is going in a different direction. The program must action towards those goals.

  2. Set clear goals and measure performance regularly. Specify how and when you are going to measure it. Whatever the results are, show the action you are going to take to improve it.
  3. Listen to you members and non-members. Ask them. Be in store and research.

Pic below of Kirsten in-store with one of their IKEA Family ambassadors…”It’s always good to stay grounded with the reality of your loyalty program”

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

  1. I believe the Amazon experience, especially if you are an Amazon Prime member, establishes greater expectations which are a disruptive force on programs. The experience is amazing.
  2. Data and value exchange and security … say no more!

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

  1. Smart and nimble analysts. If you don’t have the people to tell you quicky and succinctly the WHAT and the WHY about your program’s performance and build business cases for improving performance, you will be left behind.

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

  1. Business acumen. You need to love your numbers. A loyalty program is one of the most important business outcome drivers of marketing.
  2. Creativity is about problem solving and addressing insights.
  3. Storytelling. Understanding complex ideas and numbers and being able to translate for the business

9. If we are chatting again in (say) 2 years’ time, what do you predict would be the hot topic related to loyalty programs

Data security. It’s not going away.

10. Leave us with a lasting loyalty thought

Your loyalty program will only be as good as your product offering.


This interview was honest and vulnerable with Kirsten providing a deeper insight into herself and her values. There is so much to learn from these on top of her deep background on how IKEA Family works and the plans they have.

Kirsten is a professional marketer and loyalty leader living the reality of a powerful loyalty program that is part of an iconic brand. Here wisdom and experience comes shining through and for me the lessons and reminders were (among many):

  1. While not loyalty program specific, I do admire Kirsten for openly sharing her personal values - inclusivity, equality and kindness.
  2. If you set a goal, be clear on what and how to measure the outcomes. “If you don’t have the people to tell you quickly and succinctly the WHAT and the WHY about your program’s performance and build business cases for improving performance, you will be left behind.”
  3. Keep evolving your program offering.
  4. Surprise and delight is not an after-thought. It is integral to a loyalty program proposition and experience. The Baller Card is my go-to example of Joyalty*
  5. “Your loyalty program is only as good as your product.”
*Joyalty as I have defined it is… Your customer’s feeling of maximum joy and delight from one or a series of moments of magic delivered by your <brand> Thank you to Steve Susi who wrote the book Brand Currency where I found the word

Have a happy loyalty day!