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Is Your Loyalty Program Up to Par for Today’s Consumer?

[SmartMoney, June, 2010]

In a time of both lingering recession and more choices for consumers’ precious dollars than ever before, retailers are being forced to think differently about how to achieve brand loyalty. According to a new study by comScore, the percentage of brand loyal shoppers has steadily declined across all categories over the past two years.

Less than 50% of shoppers in 2010 reported purchasing the brand they had once been most loyal to.

The following strategies present some of the latest loyalty trends that both retailers and customers can appreciate and benefit from.

  1. Personalized Discounts: Historically, loyalty programs have been clearly defined to offer the same deals and discounts to all members, but loyalty marketers understand that today’s consumer demands personalization. Many coupons are one-time use, personalized based on past purchase history, and may even contain a customer’s name to make the offer more customized.
  2. Social Media: Brands are meeting their customers online, engaging in the conversations and offering exclusive rewards. “Liking” a brand on Facebook and following one on Twitter now garners consumers more deals and discounts as a reward for proving brand loyalty through social networks.
  3. Loyalty via Mobile: With the explosion of the mobile application market, retailers haven’t taken loyalty mobile. Location based social networks including Foursquare, Gowalla, Whrrl, and LooptStar reward customers who “check in” at various locations. For example, Gap customers who check in on LooptStar receive a 25% off coupon after two visits. Starbucks has a mobile application version of its in store loyalty program and offers a free drink after 15 paid visits.
  4. Health-care Rewards: This spring, Rite Aid launched its Wellness+ Rewards program, a unique loyalty program in its category. Members earn 25 points for every prescription filled and one point for each dollar spent in store to redeem free health screenings and 20% discounts. Then, just recently, CVS announced its ExtraCare Advantage for Diabetes extension offering double rewards on purchases related to diabetes.

Marketers must continuously examine their loyalty program, listen to customers and tailor rewards to meet the changing needs of consumers, across all channels. Is it time to refresh your loyalty program?