Loyalty Leader Lizzy Ryley – Laser focused on delivering New Zealand’s Fly Buys into the heads, hearts and hands of 2.8 million Kiwis

An interview with Lizzy Ryley – CEO of Loyalty NZ and Fly Buys

In the second of the series of articles I am writing in 2020 on ‘Loyalty Leaders’, I had the amazing opportunity to interview Lizzy Ryley – CEO of Loyalty New Zealand, operator of the Fly Buys loyalty program.

Fly Buys has 2.8 million cardholders covering 80% of New Zealand households, with members being rewarded every 38 seconds.

While these numbers are compelling, what’s even more inspiring is Lizzy’s willingness to share insights on how the Loyalty NZ team are evolving the program for a new generation of members.

There are so many pearls of wisdom that came from this interview…

1. So, who is Lizzy Ryley? (outside of work)

Fitness for me is a focus with a daily regime of running and yoga, however what I love intensely is reading. In fact, I have a bookcase of over 1000 books, wall-to-wall, ceiling high shelves of books of all genres.

I have loved reading all my life and I can remember when I was 13 or 14 years old, I read ‘The Women’s Room’ by Marilyn French (only 526 pages). The books that have had the biggest impact on me are ‘100 Years of Solitude’ by Gabriel Garcia’ Marquez and ‘A Suitable Boy’ by Vikram Seth.

From a business perspective the book that I have given out the most is ‘Fearless Leadership’ by Loretta Malandro.

(My comment: From our conversation it was clear to me Lizzy has taken to heart the title of this last book mentioned, based on how she has led her team through a rigorous and robust review of Fly Buys in recent times – see q3 below)

2. About Fly Buys

Fly Buys has been going for 24 years and with 2.8 million members is deeply entrenched in New Zealanders’ lives. We measure activity through the standard earned/redeemed behaviours in the last 12 months. We also assess recency and frequency of behaviours to determine four key ‘activity’ segments – dormant, lapsed, active and inactive, with our active rate greater than 50%.  

Preference for Fly Buys is double other Loyalty programmes in NZ and this is borne out by these key metrics - relevance 77%, ways to collect points 76%, easy to use 91%, rewards that appeal 80%, which sure helps to deliver on our vision - to Delight NZ'ers because true loyalty deserves thanks.

3. How do you avoid going stale?

We don’t go stale! We are design led, co-creating with our members a new program with multiple choices for how members are rewarded, which was about to be launched before COVID-19 interrupted us.

We look at the macro and micro environment, utilising blue and red ocean strategies, member co-creation, competitor scans, focused on transforming customer journeys. Over the past six months we have been through a robust and rigorous rebuild, all from the strength of strategy.

I believe the strategy must be locked into the purpose and vision of the brand and the program.

Then you must truly understand the market and to this end we executed multiple rounds of testing different models and value propositions.

(My comment: The transparency of the insights Lizzy provided here were refreshing and useful for any person developing and driving a loyalty program strategy).

4. Where do you get your inspiration from?

Three sources come to mind:

  1. From other great leaders who have turned theories into practical reality.
  2. I get massive inspiration from my tuned-in team. The ideas they come up with are new, fresh and original.
  3. From continuous learning. I used to teach and building my own versions of strategy models for my team is the best way to learn. You learn when you teach someone else.

(My comment and summary: Look outside, look inside and keep-on-learning)

5. What are the biggest opportunities for your program?

We are in the middle of a dramatic shift and I believe we are in a great position due to the awareness and relevance of the program to New Zealanders at this time.

Besides the fundamentals of ease (easy to earn and redeem) and value, our program gives them the choice of how to be to be rewarded.

Our brand saliency is 3x any competitors which provides us with opportunity to increase revenue in a multitude of ways which we can plough back into the program with generosity to grow it.

6. What are your three biggest challenges?

  1. To identify how we manage our data asset. With 23+ years of data and a significant investment in data and analytics, data governance is so critical.
  2. Data security, avoiding data being compromised.
  3. Ensuring we are more salient with our value proposition, being relevant to members of all ages, across the heartland of New Zealand.

For us it’s about how we involve our members in the use of their data, not us imposing our requirements on members, as it is a two-way engagement.

7. What advice would you give brands starting new programs?

  1. Clearly understand what is required in the long term.
  2. Understand the infrastructure investment and capacity.
  3. Before you start the journey, understand your culture so that you can nurture clever customer behaviour analysts.

8. What advice would you give brands with existing programs to keep them relevant?

  1. Listen to your customers and to your partners. Use data to be relevant.
  2. Invest in clever people with proven experience and make sure they have the experience.
  3. Invest in the best tech stack you can.

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

I think those programs with banking partners will be disrupted as credit card behaviours change and buy-now-pay-later options increase.

A well digitised (great engagement with devices) data driven, proprietary, immediate redeem program (speedy reward) will disrupt traditional loyalty programs which typically have longer earn to redeem (slow earn-rate) mechanics.

We all have blind-spots and I think there is a possibility of other businesses taking over loyalty programs completely due to their massive data asset…maybe its banks…let’s wait and see!

10. Your last thoughts to share?

When running a loyalty program, it’s really important to speed up the process of delivering the program experience to your members. We are all a bit too slow.

Finally, nurture your team so that they may sweep you (me) out of the way…!

(My comment: Lizzy referred to her team a number of times in the interview, which is one sign-post of a leader who realises the power of a program is driven by the people around it).


Lizzy is an inspiration sharing her experiences and knowledge with generosity and humility. My key insights from the interview (in my words) were:

  1. Listen to your members
  2. Look for opportunities to co-create with your members
  3. Nurture your team
  4. Keep on learning

… and lastly - read more!

Have a happy loyalty day!