Antavo recently closed its Series A round €10M led by Euroventures alongside Lead Ventures, iEurope and Innovation Nest and private investors including Zoltan Vardy, empowering the company to develop its best-in-class SaaS platform.

Loyalty360 met with Zsuzsa Kecsmar, Co-Founder and Chief Strategy Officer of Antavo to discuss the investment and how the company is reinvesting in its technology.

Could you give those who may not be familiar with Antavo a brief overview and how your organization is positioned within the customer loyalty industry?
Kecsmar: Antavo is an Enterprise Loyalty Cloud, providing best-in-class technology to manage experience-based, paid, and lifestyle loyalty programs online, in-store, or on mobile. Antavo’s no-code, API-centric platform makes the loyalty program experience fully customizable and empowers loyalty and marketing teams to run their program internally, without IT help.

The platform is leading the way in offering enterprises the opportunity to create, manage and modify their own loyalty program that not only helps them to connect with the lifestyle of their customers, but also engage customers beyond the short-lived ‘earn and burn’ transactional approach - and crucially, outside of the buying cycle.

In our hyper-digital world that leaves us with an overwhelming amount of choice and information, Antavo helps to reduce noise for people by offering a more targeted and relevant loyalty program that speaks directly to their interests and needs.
 
You recently raised €10M in your Series A round to reinvest in Antavo’s technology, congratulations! Can you tell us more about the investment and how you plan on using it?
Kecsmar: Thank you! We’re thrilled by successfully closing this funding round of €10M led by Euroventures alongside Lead Ventures, iEurope and Innovation Nest and private investors including Zoltan Vardy.

The new investment will enable Antavo to continue developing its product and reinvest in its technology for greater omnichannel capabilities and superior integration with more apps and platforms, while expanding its global presence.

We already invest 60% of our revenues in Product and Engineering, and we would like to keep doing that because we want to build the BEST product on the market.

I was interviewed by Sky News and talked about our investment round and future loyalty trends. You can watch it below:



With a number of brands looking to make changes to their customer loyalty efforts, where do you see the customer loyalty industry heading in the next one, five or ten years?
Kecsmar: Now more than ever, customer retention is becoming the top priority for businesses, as the world today faces a looming recession and new customer acquisition remains challenging. Key industry reports have highlighted this shift including Fortune Business Insights, which stated that “the loyalty management market is forecast to be worth $24B by 2029 due to rising consumer demand for personalized solutions”, while similarly, Antavo’s Global Customer Loyalty Report 2022 found that 82% of businesses plan to double down on loyalty in the next three years. Antavo has also been experiencing an increasing demand for rewards programs since the pandemic.

The loyalty programs of 2023 will need to provide answers for a looming recession rising expectations, and the desire of customers to be SEEN AS SPECIAL.

According to our upcoming Global Customer Loyalty Report 2023 the top 3 loyalty program trends will be:
              1. partnership rewards to rekindle interest
              2. card linking that can lead to rich customer data
              3. supporting ESG initiatives with loyalty programs

Can you give a few examples of what is working for your clients’ and their customer loyalty efforts? 
Kecsmar: Antavo focuses on creating loyalty programs that reward customers for living in accordance with their interests. We’re enabling a transition from the traditional, transactional, financial-only rewards programs towards programs that foster long-lasting loyalty and customer engagement outside of the buying cycle. For example, one of our clients, Bergzeit, an activewear and outdoor equipment brand, wished to build a like-minded community of hiking enthusiasts around its brand, therefore members are rewarded for doing sports activities, for instance when they complete hikes and climbs. 

Including gamification elements in loyalty programs is another great and fun way to create a thrilling reward experience. Another client of ours, BrewDog, a craft beer company, went with a completely points-free concept for its loyalty program. Instead, members can earn badges by completing certain actions, such as placing an online order, completing the customer profile, offsetting carbon with orders, buying the latest craft beer flavor or referring a friend. Each badge is associated with a unique visual, a catchy name, and a reward.

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How can brands best position themselves to navigate changing customer expectations around loyalty programs and strategies?

Kecsmar: Customers’ expectations are much higher. There were loyalty programs a 100 years ago, but they were really focusing on transactional loyalty. These days it's just simply not going to cut it, customers not only want discounts or points, they want to connect meaningfully with the brands that they are shopping from. We experience that revamping loyalty programs is a big trend right now, and 7 out of 10 companies with a loyalty program are looking to do so (just to give you a sneak peek from our upcoming 2023 report, this number is even higher this year!). And based on our report 53.6% of respondents who plan to launch a loyalty program envision it to be more emotional than rational.

So, in spite of the fact that discounts will play a more important role in the age of inflation, companies that reward customers outside of the buying cycle, provide experiential rewards, and make the shift towards a more emotional loyalty model will be able to truly differentiate themselves from the competition.

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What’s next for Antavo, any big plans our audience should keep an eye out for in 2023?

Kecsmar: Antavo wants to be the first company to serve enterprise loyalty programs in a truly SaaS way, meaning that the product/technology is so powerful and sophisticated that it’s capable of handling customer needs without custom developments.

One of our other plans is to create a “Competency center” around Antavo, so Antavo-certified agencies can implement solutions for clients.

We also wish to grow our client base further and create loyalty programs to which customers feel they belong, and not only when they are purchasing.  Our loyalty programs help to foster a sense of community among like-minded customers who share the same lifestyle, and it’s fun to be part of such a community.

And last but not least, following the great success of our global Customer Loyalty Report 2022, which has been downloaded by 3,000 people, as mentioned above, we’re currently working on the next edition of our market-defining report. It will be published on December 6th.

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