Ready to get rewarded? For fans of American Eagle Outfitters, which includes the American Eagle and Aerie brands, good news arrived this week in the form of a re-launched loyalty program. The brand’s previous loyalty program, AEO Connected, is now Real Rewards.
 
Loyalty360 had the chance to catch up with Chad Nikola, Director – Customer Retention, for AEO Inc. to learn more about the program re-launch, how Real Rewards by American Eagle & Aerie came to be, what makes the program unique, and where the AEO team sees the program headed going forward.
 
Can you give us a brief overview of AEO and your role with the company?
 
AEO Inc. is a leading global specialty retailer offering high quality, on-trend clothing, accessories, and personal care products at affordable prices under its American Eagle and Aerie brands.
 
AE is jeans, clothing and accessories designed to enable self-expression and empowers customers to celebrate their individuality. AE has broadened its leadership in jeans by producing innovative fabric with options for all styles and fits for all at a value. The brand’s #AExME platform celebrates freedom, individuality, and self-expression.
 
Aerie is a lifestyle brand offering intimates, apparel, activewear and swim collections. With the #AerieREAL™ movement, Aerie celebrates its community by advocating for body positivity and the empowerment of all women. The brand believes in inspiring customers to love their real selves, inside and out.
 
In my role, I oversee AE and Aerie brand customer retention, which includes our loyalty program, credit portfolio and all CRM related activities. My team is focused on understanding our customer’s wants and needs to continually evolve our program to exceed our customers’ expectations. As of late, we have been focused on re-imagining the AEOConnected loyalty program into the new Real Rewards by American Eagle & Aerie loyalty program.
 
This week, AEO is re-launching its customer loyalty program. Can you give us a brief overview of the program redesign and how will the new loyalty program work?
 
With our new and improved loyalty program, Real Rewards by American Eagle & Aerie, members can earn fast, flexible rewards they can use on whatever they want, plus additional perks just for shopping.
 
AEO Connected members will get to keep their points from that program and carry them over into Real Rewards. Customers now have the opportunity to unlock even more rewards even faster!
 
Perks include:
 

  • $5 rewards
  • 2x points on jeans
  • Aerie Days bonus offers and promotions
  • Members-only sales and events
  • Free shipping & returns for higher tier members
  • Birthday coupons
  • Plus, extra perks just for Real Rewards credit cardmembers, including an extra 20% off their first purchase and an extra 10% off every day
 
Real Rewards is free to join and benefits vary across levels. The more a member shops, the higher their membership level and better their perks.
 
  • Level 1: members earn 10 points for every $1 spent (4% cash back).
  • Level 2: spend $150+ a year to reach Level 2 and earn 15 points for every $1 spent (6% cash back), plus get better access to members-only sales and events. Credit cardmembers automatically start earning in Level 2!
  • Level 3: spend $350+ per year, earn 20 points for every $1 spent (8% cash back), plus get free shipping and returns and the best access to members-only sales and events.
 
What are you looking forward to most with the new loyalty program?
 
We’ve created a program with simplified benefits that feel personal, valuable and amplify customer choice. Real Rewards streamlines the earning experience into one reward type, allowing members to redeem for the product of their choice. All rewards earned can be redeemed for our members’ favorite products across both American Eagle and Aerie – jeans and bras, tees, hoodies, joggers, swim, undies and more. Additionally, members will have the opportunity to participate in personalized challenges, crafted especially for them. Not only will our members get to take advantage of some amazing promotions and deals, but also even better experiences.
 
What makes AEO’s loyalty program unique?
 
We built Real Rewards in such a way that we can easily flex the program based on the needs of our members. This gives us the ability to add frequent program enhancements to keep the program fresh and exciting. Members will not have to worry about a stagnant program; instead, we can adapt as our members change. It is exciting to know that what we are launching is just the tip of the iceberg for more great things to come.
 
How did you incorporate customer (VoC) and/or employee (VoE) feedback when developing the new program?
 
Our program enhancements were rooted in extensive customer and market research. From a customer perspective, we took their feedback to heart while designing the program benefits and details. Extensive focus groups, customer surveys and customer data also allowed us to hone in on what was truly important to our members. We also had an extensive interview process with a large group of cross-functional stakeholders across the organization. This allowed us to gain a better understanding of how the loyalty program affects all areas of the business and ensures we were considering these impacts to maximize customer engagement along their journey with our brands. 
 
What are your short and long-term goals for the program and how will you measure or define success?
 
In the short-term, we will be actively monitoring a number of KPI’s such as loyalty and credit enrollments, loyalty and credit sales penetration and reward redemption rate. These types of metrics will allow us to look easily understand how they have been impacted week over week, as well as compared to the year prior.  We will also want to understand qualitative customer sentiment to see how members are feeling about the new program changes. Longer term, we will be looking at things like annual member spend, trip frequency, category/brand engagement and lifetime value and compare those metrics to non-members.
 
What is the most valuable (or surprising) thing you have learned while redesigning and re-launching your loyalty program?
 
The most valuable thing we have learned during this process is the reminder of how cross-functional a loyalty program truly is. We have worked with countless team members across the organization during this journey, and if it wasn’t for everyone’s dedication and drive to the success of this re-launch, we wouldn’t be here today. This has been an amazing team effort, with so many teams adding their touch to the final product. All of our cross-functional partners should be so proud of the result that we’ve collectively created. The time and energy put into this launch has been nothing short of incredible, and we’re so excited to finally be able to share it with our AEO family.
 
 

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