Loyalty Summit CXM 2023 Conference Report – Part One

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Wise Marketer Staff

Posted on November 20, 2023

Summary and highlights from this first-time event in North America

The first ever Loyalty Summit CXM was held in Los Angeles at the Beverly Hilton November 14-16, 2023. Tommy Danielsen and his team put on a great show, gathering notable people who shared content with the audience of delegates numbering over 150. Rick Ferguson served as Master of Ceremonies and the event was co-chaired by Phil Rubin and David Slavick. The Wise Marketer was the exclusive media sponsor for the event.

To give you a feel for the discussions and topics covered at the event, we share our copious notes with some memorable quotes and perspectives that you may want to blend into your next strategy deck or presentation. There was so much content gathered from Loyalty Summit CXM that we are delivering this conference report to you in two parts. Here is Part One.

Loyalty Summit CXM was created to educate and inform, share ideas, inspire, and lead leaders to action.  The Renaissance theme was an optimistic perspective, recognizing that loyalty is stuck, too homogenous, narrow in its value prop and a reflection of “me too” versus brand-driven innovation to maximize value to all (not just customers but also stakeholders).

The morning’s offerings from Rick Ferguson, Phil Rubin, Mary Pilecki, and Aaron Glick set the tone for the two-day event.

Elevating loyalty to gain the attention of C-Suite executives has been something Wise Marketer has talked about in many an article. Peter Fader, Professor of Marketing at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, tackled this topic and shared 13 lessons to help elevate loyalty to the c-suite.

Traditionally, leadership was product excellence or scale. Now we see product and ops leadership coupled with customer intimacy. Peter reminded us that not all customers are equal:  you can’t “LOVE” them all and most will never love you; highest value will drive growth. He stated that CLV is a key metric, and that customer centricity requires being bold and proactive. He cautioned us not to overinvest and noted that base customers are still important as they provide stability, even low value ones. He urged that a customer-based corporate valuation is also a key metric, thus consider starting with finance instead of marketing to move loyalty into the c-suite. Ultimately, you should think about the need to “signal to investors and stakeholders the importance of the customer base”.

Speaking of the financial impact from customer loyalty, Len Llaguno KYROS Insights, addressed the sensitive topic of how to transform the perception of the investment in loyalty into a value generator rather than a cost center. Len is the premier thought leader on assessing and managing loyalty program liability and his session moderated by Phil Rubin was worth the price of admission.

Alejandro Gonzalez Saul is responsible for Coalition Loyalty and Data Monetization at Digital FEMSA in Mexico. OXXO, a FEMSA subsidiary, operates over 22,000 (yes, that is a correct number) across Latin America and is the largest convenience retail operator in the region. Alejandro is responsible for a multi-partner loyalty program and shared first-hand practitioner insights on his experience launching and managing the program.

SPIN Premia is a loyalty ecosystem including retail, entertainment, travel, payments and other daily spend categories where the members can earn and use benefits. “Loyalty programs must evolve into a more integrated and wide daily options to be relevant for members. Ubiquity is one of the key elements to consider when thinking about loyalty strategies”.

Loyalty Methods are one of the best kept secrets in loyalty marketing. We say that as they support operations of 7-Eleven (7Rewards), MGM Rewards, myWU (Western Union), Speedway, and more. Founder Emil Sarkissian shared details of how their unique ability to execute seamless transition of these programs across platforms is changing the fortunes in a positive way for their clients.

He highlighted the importance of Data and usability, Composability and Integration across the enterprise is essential. He noted that the best implementations yield zero disruption to the enterprise operations other than enhancing capabilities (hint, it’s not an option to do anything other than get it right)

All this content happened on the first morning of the first day of the event. Delegates needed to break for lunch to let their minds process all this information and engaged in massive networking during the lunch hour.

Pam Erlichmann, Chief Evangelist Officer, Jebbit kicked off the afternoon session reminding delegates that customers are chanting their version of the famous line from the movie Jerry Maguire, saying “show me the value”. She said that brands are enduring a season of dirty data and said to survive in this dicey era, brands must gracefully execute solutions to acquire Zero Party Data. Pam shared several real examples of the journeys Jebbit has created for clients described solutions that deliver relevancy and value to customers based on these three focal points:

  1. Deliver genuine value in promotions, communications, and customer journeys.
  2. Ask, don’t assume what you think you know about your customer.
  3. Think about “small” data, concentrating on collecting just that data which is truly actionable.

Ted Silverman, D2C Marketing & Analytics, Mattel, shared the story of the tremendous success of the Barbie franchise, talking about the many unexpected but very welcome positive outcomes from the movie based on that brand. Barbie was the #1 doll and #2 toy worldwide in 2023 but developing a clear understanding of Barbie fans (buyers) is not an easy task in their distributed sales model. Mattel has several powerful products in its digital store and the complementary nature of Barbie, Little People, and MOTU lines make it a challenge to differentiate buyer interests. Data discovery and curation is an ongoing process at Mattel.

An ”Art of Loyalty” panel followed with Allison Ferguson, Amanda Boshell, Denis Hure and Mike Ridgewell contributing to the discussion. Ridgewell, a former loyalty executive at Disney, talked about how consumers are too often “tired, but not wired” and that more can be done to engage valuable customer groups.

Gaining acceptance for loyalty in the executive suite was a topic supported by all panelists. Amanda, Director of Membership & Loyalty, Wild Fork Foods, talked about the challenges of proving the value of loyalty to executives when there is a longer sales cycle in the business or a distributed sales model. Ridgewell encouraged loyalty leaders to spend more time in the field to understand the needs of operations and front-line personnel in store locations. He mentioned that in launching customer initiatives at Disney, he focused on activating the “troublemakers” in the business to find innovative solutions. He recounted a story of how he once gathered four “data collaborators” from different parts of the business to create some of the best customer work at Disney during his tenure.

Matt Garrett, formerly of rDialogue and Bond Brand Loyalty moderated a discussion with Ashley Hancock, formerly with Backcountry, Gabe Alonso, VP Digital Marketing, El Pollo Loco, and Matt Nitowski. The group highlighted the importance of blending brand marketing with loyalty strategy and shared valuable advice for how the “L word” (Loyalty) needs to be managed in corporate discussions. They commented that too often the word Loyalty is associated with just a loyalty program, which can make the term polarizing among stakeholders. One conclusion was that since the industry can’t seem to invent a better word than “loyalty”, we should instead focus time and effort on how to describe and provide evidence for the value that loyalty creates.

The day continued with Jisun Hahn, Chief Strategy Officer Kognitiv, covering the key trends that will drive the future of the industry, saying “the future is now” regarding the much-discussed concept of Artificial Intelligence. Jisun had more to say on this topic which we will cover in our Part 2 of this conference report.

A packed first day concluded with an entertaining debate between Rick Ferguson and Jill Goldworn, SVP Global Sales, IC Group on the prospects for points-based loyalty programs. Coined “The Great Loyalty Debate: Points or No Points?”, Jill won by a hair in an audience vote with position that points were not going to be the future of the business.

The Loyalty Summit CXM 2023 conference report continues in Part 2, tomorrow.