Top 12 loyalty marketing trends for 2010
The key concepts that are set to drive customer loyalty for the next 12 months include customer engagement, collaboration, sustainability, and ROI (return on investment), according to Mark Johnson, CEO for loyalty marketing association Loyalty 360.
The association has studied the issues that its members are currently struggling with, and the strategies and solutions that experts are now focusing on, and the key loyalty trends for 2010 all seem to point to a very consumer-driven approach to customer loyalty.
- Engagement is the goal From merchants and banks, to hotels and restaurants, to health care providers and insurance agencies (all but airlines), marketers are embracing engagement. These organisations know that engagement is the process that creates loyal customers, clients and employees. However, most don't know how to define "engagement," how to incorporate it into their marketing strategies, and most importantly how to measure, monitor, increase and sustain it.
- A keen focus on sustainability Customers want to be aligned with socially responsible companies and reward brands that champion the issues they believe in with their purchases and, ultimately, their loyalty. Given customers' confusion over "greenwashing" and often higher prices for green products, brands that claim to be environmentally responsible need to be authentic and transparent in their marketing efforts in order to achieve true commitment.
- Loyalty programmes will become more collaborative Merchants want to work with banks, retailers and other partners. Each wants to work with the other's members to create unique communities that can provide the value, behavioral information, and insight they cannot get in the market.
- A need for metrics and quantifiable ROI Many companies have been sold programmes that were supposed to drive desired consumer behaviours, yet they have not performed. The market wants to know what types of return they should be achieving with these programmes, and marketers need the benchmarks to help them do so.
- Dichotomy between old school and new school The market is moving away from the old school mentality of trying to put a watch into an incentive programme with the hopes that it will drive ROI and behavior. Instead, the market is looking to adopt the new school mindset which is focused on data, insight, and sustainable behavioral change.
- Dissatisfaction with old school loyalty schemes Loyal customers want to know what brands have done for them recently - and brands need to implement loyalty programmes that respond to this opportunity.
- Focus on 'voice of the customer' (VOC) Those who adopt a true 'voice of the customer' approach within their loyalty, engagement, and customer experience initiatives will continue to increase their market share, profitability and brand equity.
- Brands, CPGs & channel programme providers 'out of touch' Because the data in the channel is controlled by the merchants; brands, CPGs and channel programme providers want to develop strategies that will give them more insight and access and to their customers and dialogue with them directly.
- Changes in funding for credit card loyalty Banks are increasingly dissatisfied with their traditional loyalty programmes. They are looking for more engaging loyalty/incentive/engagement marketing programmes with different costs models that are unique and provide measureable behavioural change. The interest in open forums and communities to address these opportunities continue to grow.
- Large retailers try to leverage their brands Large retailers want to expand the control, impact and overall direction of their customer experience, loyalty, and engagement marketing initiatives. They want to lead with their brand and increase the efficacy of these brands when developing engagement and loyalty initiatives.
- Growing interest in social, mobile & emerging media There is still confusion over how to implement these programmes. The 'vanguard' and the 'visionary' leaders in this market at times seem to be more interested in 'chest thumping' rather than listening to market opportunities and solving problems.
- Webinars, case studies & best practices become important The market has grown tired of hyperbole and is now focused on the companies, processes, and procedures that can drive the behaviour, ROI and engagement needed within their organisation. The market wants to follow those organisations that have completed these processes (i.e. case studies), use practical market-based solutions (i.e. best practices), and have them presented as part of an ongoing learning process (i.e. webinars).