Moving members from transactional to emotional connections. The five currencies of best-in-class loyalty programs.

When designing a loyalty or rewards program proposition, with the goal of moving members from a transactional interaction to an emotional connection, consider these five currencies:

  1. Money – “Show me the money”
  2. Memory – “Add moments of magic to my life”
  3. Time – “Make life easy for me”
  4. Me – “Show me you know me”
  5. Us – “Connect me with community”

1. The currency of Money – “Show me the money”

These are pure financial benefits. At the base level of a program make a transactional offer. In whatever form or function it takes - cash, credit, discount or savings, these are a direct financial forms of gratitude.

Points and other relevant descriptors (stars, carrots, coins etc.) are a ‘currency of collection’ and a  mechanism used by programs as an indirect financial benefit.

Financial benefits are a lever to shift and lift transactional behaviour – spend more and purchase more often. A currency of collection also influences interactions such as points for surveys, social sharing and referrals.

Whichever way a program rewards a member financially, as a member – “I want the program to show me the money”.

2. The currency of Memory – “Add moments of magic to my life”

These are experiential benefits. They are more than money. This is where a program lifts transactional interactions to emotional connections.

The classic unexpected delight (commonly known as ‘surprise and delight’), the gift box (Mecca Beauty Loop made famous), experiences of events, entertainment, music, sports or movies. Money can't buy experiences. These are benefits creating memorable experiences worth talking about.

As a member -  “I want the program to add moments of magic* to my life”.

(*I’ve described this as Joyalty[1] which is “Your customer’s feeling of maximum joy and delight from one or a series of moments of magic delivered by your program”).

3. The currency of Time – “Make life easy for me”

These are functional benefits. They are based on service or utility. Help members save time or give them back time. Instant instead of delayed utility such as reduced or express delivery times for online orders for members.

Time is measured at every moment of a program interaction  - from joining to onboarding and ongoing program interaction, earning and redeeming.

Making time-saving tangible can be as simple as digitising receipts or card-linking for one-tap pay & earn.

As a member – “I want the program to make life easy for me”.

(Time as a currency of loyalty programs has always been part of my program design process. This was inspired even further by Phil Ruben and his recent article -  After a year of COVID-19, it’s about TIME).

4. The currency of Me – “Show me you know me”

These are personal benefits. These are primarily driven by the data collected which is turned into personalised benefits and communications.

Personalised communications are executed in four layers  - as identified in our loyalty research For Love or MoneyTM 2020

Medium – “Communicating  with me through  my preferred  channel”

Message -  “Communicating  with me in a  personal and  relevant way - the  message, offers  and rewards are relevant to me”

Member “Communicating  with me in a way that is relevant  to me and my  lifestyle  - they  understand me"

Moment “Communicating  with me at the  right time/right place”

Personalisation also extends to exclusivity and making members feel special. The lounge, the member only entrance and benefits gained at higher tiers of programs are a form of personalised benefits.

In recent times I would also classify how programs are being sensitive to health and hygiene of members as a form of personal benefits. This extends beyond members.

Giving members access to knowledge and skills through content and education is also a proof point of personalising programs. (These could also be experiential benefits).

As a member – “I want the program to show me you know me”.

5. The currency of Us – “Connect me with community”

These are social benefits. These are benefits primarily driven by the greater good and connecting members with causes and communities beyond themselves.

These are selfless benefits.

Donating points for a greater purpose is a proof point. Points for recycling is a great example as Fauna and Flora have executed in their f&f rewards program.

Social benefits are also brought to life through connecting a community of members such as product samplers and testers. Being part of a panel of product/service researchers is a form of connecting members to a community.

Nominating program ambassadors is another form social connection who can be a powerful influencer group for programs.

As a member - "I want the program to connect me with community”.

From habit to happiness

Moving members from a habitual financial interaction to a more meaningful emotional connection takes some crafting and curation.

Every loyalty program can connect with their members through the five currencies and each is uniquely valuable, it’s just a matter of which of these (or all) your program will blend or own.

My mantra is  - ‘From habit to happiness’.

Build your program proposition from a financial habit to the heart of happiness.

Have a happy loyalty day!


[1] Thanks to Steve Susi who originated the term Joyalty in his book Brand Currency and which I have redefined

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