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As the digital age dawns, customer loyalty is becoming more and more essential to companies, especially those with tangible products. While every company worries about meeting the needs of customers in a changing digital landscape, many are starting to lean more on their loyalty programs to drive retention.
This provides an interesting conundrum, as executives begin to question if customers prefer their traditional ways of business or seek a new and innovative approach that adapts to the changing times. This leads businesses to try and get into the minds of customers to hopefully find answers to often-asked questions.
We had the opportunity to sit down with Keith Chandler, Vice President of Promotions and Loyalty Programs at Cartamundi, to discuss his company’s view on loyalty and how it is building loyalty for a physical product in a digital landscape.
Call you tell us a bit about what Cartamundi does and your role with the company?
Cartamundi is a global specialized printer and packager and the two families that own us have been in the business for over 250 years. Our headquarters is in Belgium, but we have had a presence in the US since the 90s. Cartamundi means “cards for the world.” We were originally a playing card and trading card manufacturer and we have branched out into several different categories since then, including luxury packaging. We are actually the largest manufacturer of games in the world.
My role with the company is VP of Promotions and Loyalty Programs. We have run loyalty programs and promotions in Belgium, and they wanted someone to come in to see how those projects would fit the US market and adapt the programs.
How has customer loyalty changed over the last few years for you?
We offer a tangible product. The way we are currently relevant in the space is through the true definition of loyalty, with that being the emotional bond between company and consumer. What I’ve found is that tangible assets (through neuromarketing) create a deeper emotional bond and we’ve really been looking into what sort of physical reaction tangible assets create for emotional engagement.
How is new technology impacting customer loyalty efforts?
We’ve actually had a really good response through this. The last few years, AI has emerged and everything is about digital and data and getting in front of the customer at the right time, but this can trend away from the emotional part of the relationship. I think some brands like T-Mobile, Sprint and Honda are getting away from a digital loyalty offerings and trying to connect emotionally with their customers. That’s where we come on. We’ve done onboarding programs and a monthly engagement programs that say, “We don’t want to sell you anything right now, we just want to thank you for being our customer.”
What’s the biggest challenge your clients have faced in driving deeper customer loyalty?
I think the biggest challenge that companies have is challenging the status quo. Most programs have the same basic structure and feel, but I think it takes a lot for companies to say they are going to do something different. The real challenge is to find someone that doesn’t want to blend in with the crowd and wants to set themselves apart.
What do you think the next “big thing” for customer loyalty is?
I think the next big thing is simplicity. You’re able to gain wallet share right now with a lot of applications and emails and rewards. I think the next big thing is to reward customer’s value and making sure that the customer feels special.
How important is personalization and the ability to drive an emotional connection for deeper personal loyalty?
It’s extremely important, but I think the emotional bond is even more important than personalization. It seems to be that personalization is predominantly targeted adds, and I think that the overall feeling of the emotional attachment is more important than personalization. The digital programs seem very transactional, but providing personalized experiences and reaching them on an emotional level can be transformative.
While Keith shared some interesting insights for how his program operates, it will be interesting to see how Cartamundi chooses to implement this program in the United States. Adapting from a European market to an American market can be a difficult thing to pull off, but with Keith’s experience and insight in the area, the future looks bright for Cartamundi.
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