5 Loyalty Programme Trends to Watch


5 Loyalty Programme Trends to Watch

The loyalty programme landscape is continually changing, with trends coming and going as quickly as Chipotle’s catastrophic ‘Chiptopia’ scheme. For brands and businesses, the secret is to gain insight on what’s got staying power, and what’s simply destined to crash and burn, Chipotle style [to read more about where Chipotle went wrong – check our post here]

So what’s caught our attention this year? Here are five bona fide loyalty programme trends to watch, and our commentary on what makes them such a success.

An experiential focus 

Millennials crave experiences, which has led to the development of loyalty programmes that offer customers tangible rewards. Marriott Hotels is blazing a trail in this department, with its recently launched Experiences Marketplace that went live in April 2016. Not only can guests redeem points on hotel rooms, but they can also use them to book unique experiences like culinary tours, sporting match seats, concert tickets and more. Starwood Preferred Guest Moments offers a similar service, as does the Wyndham Rewards programme.

Mobile friendly platforms

The UK is now a nation of smartphone loyalists, and rewards programmes are beginning to reflect this trend. Going beyond outdated plastic membership cards, an increasing number of brands are starting to offer their customers mobile-friendly platforms where they can manage their points balances, explore rewards and engage with the loyalty programme, at their fingertips.

Engaging the Centennial

Aka Digital Natives and bona fide Gen Z-ers, Centennials are turning 19 which means they’re perfectly positioned to start flexing their buying power. Analysts estimate that in the US alone this demographic is worth a huge US$44 billion in spending power, which makes them impossible to ignore. As a result, loyalty programmes are refocussing on capturing the attention of Centennials, with the spotlight shining firmly on relevance, immediacy and digital allure.

A focus on philanthropy

Despite their selfish reputation, the latest statistics from Nielsen reveal that modern consumers value companies with a social conscience. As a result, we’re seeing an increasing number of companies weave philanthropy into their rewards programmes, with brands like TOMS offering consumers the option of donating to causes close to their heart in lieu of redeeming their own benefits.

Internal analytics

As new technologies emerge, brands are starting to leverage the power of customer data. O2 is at the forefront of the internal analytics movement, and relies heavily on predictive analytics to better understand the needs and wants of its customers.

“With Priority, for example, we use our internal analytics to understand which customers will be interested in music-related offers. At the end of last year, we saw a tenfold uplift in conversion through better use of customer data. This is an area where we are evolving our capabilities,” comments marketing and consumer director Nina Bibby.

O2 complements its insight with broad rewards, with some customers choosing to cash in on its Monday £1 lunch deal, while others prefer to use points to access music gigs.

It’s fascinating to see how trends play out, and how brands make them their own. Our guess is that this batch will stay strong in 2017, but no doubt they’ll be challenged by a brand new flood as the new year unfolds.

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