What Is the Future of Customer Loyalty?

According to Antavo’s Global Customer Loyalty Report in 2023, four-fifths (80%) of businesses with a measurable customer loyalty program noted a positive return on investment (ROI). In fact, these programs generated almost five-fold revenue increases compared with program spend, on average.

In the light of an ongoing fight against inflation, brands are having to work harder to attract and retain their customers. As the cost-of-living bites and more consumers look for better bang for their buck, the mutual value of customer loyalty programs continues to rise. In the financial services sector, we’re seeing a real battle for custom, particularly in the credit card market where SoFi has gone big on its rewards program for borrowers.

As the vast majority of brands surveyed by Antavo see tangible returns on their investment in loyalty programs, it’s clear consumer incentivisation is going nowhere anytime soon.  To that end, it’s important to consider the burgeoning trends in loyalty programs, designed to motivate consumer behaviours. Below, we explore how the goalposts are shifting in customer loyalty and the brands already setting new benchmarks, aside from the obvious firms like Starbucks.

Marriott’s Bonvoy Benefits Scheme

Marriott is one of the world’s biggest hotel groups. With over 200,000 rooms available with this brand worldwide, it’s clear this chain needed a reward scheme worthy of the global status. Its Bonvoy Benefits program is a points-based scheme, allowing regular guests to accrue points for use towards free overnight stays, meals at in-house restaurants, and other experiences.

These points can also improve a customer’s stay by paying for free high-speed Wi-Fi and car hire. Points can also be shared between family and friends. This scheme is highly measurable by Marriott’s in-house team. They can monitor customer behaviours and home in on the personal preferences of each guest to deliver bespoke rewards or perks that matter.

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Freshly Proves the Enduring Power of Word-of-Mouth

Freshly is a leading meal delivery service across North America. Customers can select how many meals a week they get delivered, as well as their diet preferences including low-calorie, high-protein and vegan dishes. Their approach to reward customer loyalty centres on its refer-a-friend program.

Word-of-Mouth

Existing Freshly customers can earn $30 for every new customer they refer to the Freshly service. In addition, newly referred customers will get a dozen free meals upfront at a value of around $120.

PokerStars Casino Provides an Air of Exclusivity With its Welcome Promotion

Brands still value the importance of prioritising customer engagement and making those customers feel important. At PokerStars Casino, a leading iGaming operator which specialises in slots and table games, the brand displays its rewards scheme with a splash promotion on the header of its homepage. It invites first-time users to explore the platform and access “exclusive” slot titles which are only available at this site.

It’s this inclusive tone of voice which encourages inquisitive consumers to take the plunge and see what all the fuss is about. This brand is also in a highly competitive marketplace, which makes reward programs even more important to build lasting relationships with users.

Expedia Rewards Shows Tiered Programs Still Hit the Mark

The Expedia Rewards scheme is a prime example of a tiered system that effectively “gamifies” the process of being an Expedia customer. With “Blue”, “Silver” and “Gold” tier levels, customers can move through the ranks by accruing more points on hotel and flight bookings.

The “Blue” tier provides exclusive savings and discounts on accommodation and flights, and also grants Blue-level users with double points for booking via the Expedia app. These benefits rise through Silver and Gold tiers, with the latter offering perks like free room upgrades.

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The Priorities for Future Customer Loyalty Schemes

So, what should brands designing their first customer loyalty programs focus on in 2023 and beyond?

  • Focus on getting consumers’ attention first
    There is value in increasing your brand’s share of its customers’ attention. This has the potential to influence their share of wallet spent on your goods or services. Start by introducing incentives to drive customer behaviour which can incrementally grow sales over time.
  • Ensure reward redemption is as frictionless as possible
    This is the key to future customer reward programs. As consumers’ attention spans continue to wane, the need for frictionless redemption of rewards and incentives is crucial to encourage take-up.
  • Make sure loyalty programs are measurable
    Brands must be able to quantify the impact of reward schemes to their bottom lines. This allows firms to be flexible and adjust promotional budgets as needed.

 

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