Studies about customer loyalty have revealed that it is becoming increasingly difficult to foster customer loyalty. Although price is still a key purchasing decision, customers are expecting more than low prices. For this reason, building a loyalty program has become a smart investment for any company, and a great opportunity to increase sales when created with precision.
Launching successful loyalty programs is a huge challenge for retailers. Over 80% of loyalty programs fail during their first two years, and customers enrolled in loyalty programs are not necessarily more loyal than those who are not part of one. The reason for this is that building customer loyalty goes beyond discounts and low prices, customer loyalty is constantly changing along with market dynamics, as well as the drivers that make customers come back again and again.
What drives customer loyalty and boosts loyalty programs?
- Great technological improvements, where smartphones and apps are key to enjoy promotions and benefits.
- Speed of response and automation is becoming increasingly important to build the Consumer Experience
- Consumers want to be treated more personally, they want brands to give reasons to buy their products again.
- Consumers have many product or service options, and differentiation is the key to success
- There is an increase in use of tools to manage customer databases: CRM,CDP, and DMP
Here are some of the loyalty drivers rated highest according to consumers:
- High standard of products and services
- Low prices and special discounts
- Personalized recommendations
- Fast availability
- Customer support human to human
- Smartphone notifications
- Corporate social responsibility or business social responsibility
Challenges of Loyalty management
Loyalty Management is not something new, since the late 80s companies have already realized the importance of retaining their customers. We have reached a maturity point in the sector. Consumers have been living with discount programs and massive promotions for many years, they stopped being surprised when a retailer offers them the same over and over again.
Creativity, innovation, and imagination are key to getting customers excited again, while new channels and technological advances must be used to communicate these strategies in an integrated way.
Personalization has become necessary. It is important for retailers to know what the customer wants, how they want it, and to make it as easy as possible for them to acquire certain products or services. These are some of the main challenges a retailer has to phase when thinking about loyalty:
- Loyalty as a brand attitude and not as a marketing action
A customer does not become loyal to a brand for no reason. Loyalty is an attribute that is built in the same way that reputation is built. To build loyalty, it is important to understand the relationship of potential customers with the company, which begins the moment they hear about the brand for the first time.
This loyalty must continue to be developed through the narrative of the brand, everything that is done or stops doing, communicates, and stops communicating. In short, it is increasingly closer to a company’s attitude than to a set of individual marketing actions.
- Omnichannel capabilities
Nowadays there are more and more channels to communicate with the customer than ever. It is necessary to know how to use the different channels in an integrated way in order to offer consumers a much more satisfactory and comfortable shopping experience. It is essential to develop a commercial relationship that, for example, begins in the app, continues with a visit to the store, and ends in a purchase on the web. However, beyond being present in the customer’s purchase decision, omnichannel capabilities should be the key for customers to easily accumulate and redeem points or coupons across all channels.
- The importance of Business analytics
Every year, the importance of customer data analysis increases. As personalization becomes more important, knowing and controlling the different consumer data becomes a more important objective each day. Loyalty programs are one of the best sources of customer information. Skills such as business intelligence when managing this data to deliver personalized benefits to customers will be critical to gain market share in a highly competitive world.
Loyalty drivers and trends
Nowadays, there are more and more possibilities to connect with customers and build customer loyalty. Let’s look at the loyalty trends which play an important role in connecting with and retaining customers:
- There is an increasing trend of incorporating a Loyalty Program in companies, especially after the pandemic where retailers are looking to reconnect with lapsed customers
- We’ve seen a rise in investment in loyalty and personalization.
- The benefits of loyalty programs increase the loyalty level
- Changing “Storytelling” for “Storydoing”, companies are looking for ways to involve customers and make them part of the brand purpose
- Loyalty is based on offering better customer experiences, for this, companies have implemented AI and virtual reality as a way to meet new customer expectations
- New communication formats in social media, such as stories on LinkedIn, which open up a new world of communication possibilities and new ways of connecting with customers
- Greater regulation in digital advertising, online platforms such as Facebook begin to limit and decrease the number of publicity on each page or changes in cookies regulations
What does the future of customer loyalty look like?
Over years, loyalty programs have been a key driver to customer loyalty, and these loyalty programs usually have been linked to transactions. But nowadays, retailers are looking for new ways to retain their customers, by creating innovative loyalty programs where customers are rewarded for their behavior and engagement, and no longer for the products they purchase. Here are some examples of smart loyalty programs launched by leading fashion and food retailers:
- Loyalty program “Mango likes you” by Mango: Its main goal is to offer pure omnichannel experiences to consumers by creating an omnichannel, user-friendly loyalty program, offering omnichannel experiences such as movie tickets, free subscriptions to HBO, Spotify Premium.
- Mcdonald’s Customer App: Mcdonald’s has created a payment method through image recognition technology within their App, which identifies the car plate allowing payments to be done automatically without the need to show a credit card. McAuto & Go has become a new way of customer retention by offering an efficient and innovative experience.
- Gucci: the high-end retailer that reaches out to customers if they cannot go to the store. With the immediate service that Gucci offers to its customers, they just need to open the Gucci catalog on Gucci’s website, choose a clothing item or accessory they want, and order it. Gucci makes sure their order is delivered within an hour and a half of the order being placed.
Greater loyalty translates into real business results, including higher ROI, increased sales and revenue, and an improved customer LTV. Find out how much growth your brand can realize. Contact us to schedule a demo.