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 Going beyond outdated plastic membership cards, an increasing number of brands are starting to offer their customers mobile-friendly platforms where they can manage their points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.

Synced.io is a service that lets you easily connect with multiple Affiliate Networks. To request a demo click here.


Chipotle Wraps Up a Catastrophic Rewards Program, and Dishes Out a Lesson in What NOT to Do…


Chipotle Wraps Up a Catastrophic Rewards Program, and Dishes Out a Lesson in What NOT to Do…

For the most part, globally recognised brands serve as inspiration for small businesses. But sometimes, instead of learning positive lessons from observing the big guns at work, small fries can clue themselves up on what NOT to do…

Cue Chipotle’s disastrous ‘Chiptopia’ rewards program that launched earlier this year. The cult Mexican fast food chain may know a thing or two about how to whip up a mean burrito, but when it comes to loyalty programmes the company’s efforts were lacking serious flavour.

In-house customer relations experts spent millions developing and launching a fresh new summer rewards program, which was hailed as one of the best in the restaurant business. It was tied to the frequency of visits, and offered customers the chance to score a smorgasbord of free food. Basically, if a customer guzzled 12 burritos in three months, they were rewarded with four free burritos. This gave the program a returns rate of around 33%.

But despite this, Chipotle’s Mexican loving clientele couldn’t seem to care less about the three-month seasonal offer. So where did Chipotle’s ‘Chiptopia’ campaign go wrong? And what lessons can brands learn from its disastrous attempt to mix refried beans with rewards?

  • Failure to understand customer perception

One of the biggest factors Chipotle failed to address was that in order to launch a deliciously successful rewards program, customer perception needs to be high. Even the most tantalising of rewards programs will crash and burn if customers simply don’t want the product in the first place. The company’s main downfall was the fact that it launched ‘Chiptopia’ right after it was hit with its catastrophic E. coli outbreak scandal that saw sales drop by 30% in the first quarter of 2016. It hadn’t quite recovered, and was still struggling to earn back the trust of its customers. So, despite the fact that it spent millions on developing a stellar rewards program, customers just weren’t all that excited about cashing in on potentially contaminated burritos. YouGov BrandIndex data confirms that consumer perception was suffering on Chiptopia’s July 1 launch date, with brand quality sitting at a dismal 9.4 on a scale of -100 to 100.

  • A backwards approach

In September Chipotle launched a new campaign focussing on addressing the E. coli scandal, and convincing customers that its food is safe. Ideally, the chain should’ve launched this campaign first, and followed up with Chiptopia.

  • Confused customers

Chiptopia was clearly aimed at diehard Chipotle fans, as its three-tiered system was overwhelmingly confusing. While the program did help to increase loyalty from regular customers, it failed to appeal to the 75% of consumers that make up its customer base.

Unsustainable and unappealing

With a returns rate of 33%, Chiptopia simply wasn’t sustainable in the long run. It’s three month run period was clear about the fact that it was a seasonal promotion, so unless customers started scoffing burritos in July, it wasn’t worth their while to get involved. The company has since realised its mistake, and has confirmed that it’s now working on a new, more permanent program.

So, while the concept of a rewards program is intriguing, even the most established of brands can still get it oh so wrong.

Synced.io is a service that lets you easily connect with multiple Affiliate Networks. To request a demo click here.

How rewardStyle Turned Instagram into an Affiliate Marketing Wonderland


How rewardStyle Turned Instagram into an Affiliate Marketing Wonderland

From the vision of a 23-year-old fashion blogger to a critically acclaimed content monetisation platform, rewardStyle has completely revolutionised the way top tier style influencers and brands connect with consumers. Today, the platform is used by more than 9000 global style setters, who leverage rewardStyle’s turnkey ecosystem of services to maximise their presence, and their profits. Alongside easy to use tech products, strategic consulting and education services, rewardStyle offers its members access to its avant-garde mobile publishing and distribution platform. Cue the LIKEtoKNOW.it insurgency…

LIKEtoKNOW.it – How it works

Like all social media platforms, LIKEtoKNOW.it is an absolute dream to use. Simply like a photo featuring a liketk.com tag, and LIKEtoKNOW.it will send a curated list of ready-to-shop products straight to your inbox. From fashion and homewares to beauty and lifestyle, Instagram users are able to recreate their favourite looks, in just a few clicks of the mouse. The customised, image centric ‘wish lists’ include direct links to retailers where showcased items can be purchased.

For Instagrammers, it eliminates the whole “where can I find this?” drama and replaces it with instant access to featured products, at their fingertips. Now that’s something everyone would like to know. For digital style influencers, LIKEtoKNOW.it represents a chance to earn meaningful revenue on their content, and monetise their accounts into thriving small businesses. Basically, it’s a consumer facing, ready-to-shop, mobile friendly platform that empowers millions of socially inspired shoppers, across the globe. To date, it’s drummed up more than $100 million in sales to retail partners, and scored more than 1.9 million Instagram followers that can’t get enough of its content.

Where did rewardStyle go right?

Not all businesses get it right, especially when it comes to navigating the complex and multifaceted social media arena. So where did rewardStyle go right?

  1. Influencers are the new ‘brands’. LIKEtoKNOW.it was the first platform to leverage the fact that Instagram fashion influencers are now just as powerful as the brands they wear. The latest research proves this point, with MuseFind revealing that 92% of consumers trust an influencer more than a traditional advertisement or celebrity endorsement.
  2. A sense of elitism. What really defines rewardStyle is its invitation only model. This underpins it with a sense of exclusivity, and ensures that members feel honoured to receive an invitation, as opposed to hassled.
  3. Instagram exclusive. Social media has reinvented the way brands communicate with customers, and Instagram is at the forefront of the movement. Today, research shows that a huge 96% of US fashion brands are on Instagram, which really comes as no surprise given that fashion is such an aesthetically dominated market. For brands, Instagram unlocks opportunities to entice followers with stylised lifestyle snapshots of their collections, and tap into the intrinsic human infatuation with imagery.
  4. What Instagrammers want. Following the fierce success of LIKEtoKNOW.it, rewardStyle went on to launch LIKEtoKNOW.it.HOME. Amber Box, rewardStyle co-founder explains, “As a company, we started in fashion, but as our influencers grew up, and they and their followers started to care about dressing their homes, and brands and retailers in other verticals began to recognize the retail demand generated by our Influencers, home became an obvious extension.”

When it comes to case studies that make our hearts flutter, rewardStyle’s LIKEtoKNOW.it launch is definitely up there.

Synced.io is a service that lets you easily connect with multiple Affiliate Networks. To request a demo click here.



The Times They Are a Changin’: How to Earn Loyalty in a Millennial Dominated Market


The Times They Are a Changin’: How to Earn Loyalty in a Millennial Dominated Market

Bob Dylan’s poetic lyrics may be timeless, but when it comes to earning customer loyalty, the times are consistently changing. While in the past baby boomers may have been thrilled to collect stamps on a paper business card, millennials demand a new kind of TLC. In America alone, the country’s eight million millennials represent a quarter of the entire population, and a huge £160 billion in annual buying power. For retailers this means one thing. Winning over millennials should be at the top of the priority list.

One of the biggest myths surrounding millennials is the fact that by definition, they’re incapable of being brand loyal. Research proves otherwise, with study after revered study indicating that with the right approach, millennials can be turned into high value, repeat customers. In fact, in a recent Bond Brand Loyalty study millennials were pinpointed as a key demographic for brand loyalty programs, with 68% confirming they’d change their shopping behaviours in order to score more rewards. Furthermore, one-third admitted to buying a product they didn’t need or want, simply to earn points or boost membership status. So, despite their negative reputation, millennials can be a hugely valuable market.

Here’s how:

Smartphone savvy

Millennials single handily pioneered the smartphone takeover, so it comes as no surprise that this generation responds well to handheld devices. Thrive Analytics reports that of all millennial respondents sharing their location with businesses, 71% did so in order to receive offers and deals. This means that in order to stay relevant, businesses need to be developing loyalty programmes with a mobile-first focus.

Social media

To millennials, social media is now a primary platform to source information on brands, products and deals. For brands, this means that a dynamic social media presence is a must.

The value of rebates

Fuelled by fast-paced lifestyles and an ‘instant gratification’ mindset, millennials prefer to cash in on high-value rebates over discounts and vouchers that can be used at a later date.

Transparency is key

With smartphones at their fingertips, millennials have become fiercely savvy shoppers. For brands, this means there’s no room for ambiguity when it comes to loyalty programmes, price promises and other big claims.

Giving back

A huge 87% of millennials donate to non-profit organisations, which means that earning loyalty has a lot to do with brand philosophies. Millennials have fallen hard for the concept of a ‘participation economy’ that allows them not just to consume, but contribute to, create and influence the behaviours of brands they love. There’s a reason TOMS Shoes emerged as a cult brand, and it’s not just because its canvas shoes are comfortable.

So, while millennials may seem like a tough and somewhat erratic market to crack, earning customer loyalty is not impossible. In fact, with the right tactics, rewards programmes and communication mediums in place, Gen Y is more than happy to stay faithful.

Synced.io is a service that lets you easily connect with multiple Affiliate Networks. To request a demo click here.


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