First Loyalty Program at Vans Targets Authentic Connections

Vans, the original action sports lifestyle sports brand and one of the largest youth culture marketers in the world, recently launched its first-ever customer loyalty program titled, “Vans Family.”
Vans Family is an interactive and intuitive loyalty program designed to recognize, reward, and celebrate Vans fans for who they are and what they like to do. As a part of the Family, members will receive insider information, access to member-only contests and experiences, and sneak previews of upcoming product releases. Members will also receive points for shopping and for engaging with the brand. What’s more, Family members will also have access to exclusive patterns to customize footwear and accessories in the Vans Customs platform, along with “Off the Wall” experiences.
Vans authentic collections are sold globally in 84 countries through a network of subsidiaries, distributors, and international offices. Vans also owns and operates more than 600 retail locations around the world.
Frank Neumann, Senior Director of Consumer Lifecycle Management at Vans, talked to Loyalt360 about the new loyalty program.
“With the Vans Family loyalty program, we want to engage our fans—from newcomers to loyalists—as individuals with unexpected experiences tailored to their personal interests,” Neumann explained. “Consistent with Vans’ mission of promoting the action sports lifestyle, youth culture, and creative self-expression, we want to create authentic connections with people who like Vans, deepening our relationships with them, and creating new pathways to interact in relevant ways. This is the first loyalty program for the brand. However, what’s special about the program is that it remains true to the original intent that the Van Doren family laid out for Vans—it’s about the people who make Vans the authentic and creative brand we are today.” 
Neumann called Vans Family an experiential loyalty program, “a way of inviting the Vans’ biggest fans to enjoy experiences designed just for them. As a member of the program, members get insider information, exclusive custom designs, and members-only experiences. Members can earn points from shopping and engaging with the program and can redeem those points for rewards.”
As an example, Neumann noted, engagement opportunities include answering poll questions, sharing photos and stories, and more, for which points vary. With their points, members redeem for things like members-only branded items, opportunities to win athlete-autographed products, as well as partner- and sponsor-associated digital rewards.
“The program is designed to facilitate two-way conversations with consumers,” Neumann said. “Vans Family allows the brand to get to know consumers by observing behaviors and offering tailored experiences, unique products and services, and personalized brand interactions. The program was built not as a transactional driver, but as a brand initiative to drive a deeper connection between the brand and consumers. While much of this is done through structured program elements like earn and burn, points for transactions and engagement like contests, polls and surveys, we also recognize our biggest fans through “surprise and delight” initiatives. Through Vans Family, we will be able to identify opportunities and celebrate the most loyal members through special experiences.” 
Vans consumers already have strong emotional connections with the brand, Neumann said.
“The Vans Family loyalty program is designed to build on and magnify these existing relationships,” Neumann said. “The program’s foundation incorporates Vans’ brand pillars and DNA, ensuring that we keep our promises and maintain the trust of our consumers. Vans Family is built as an interactive and intuitive loyalty experience, the program recognizes members for who they are and what they like to do. With a commitment to creative expression, the brand empowers loyalists and newcomers with this loyalty initiative that delivers unique, experiences and features customized to each consumer’s interests.”
Throughout the entire design process, the team connected with Vans consumers via surveys, in stores, at Vans owned or sponsored events, and in action sports settings such as skate parks.
“Additionally, store managers and store employees were interviewed to get the perspective on what consumers had been asking for and why,” Neumann explained. “The loyalty program design elements were built leveraging these insights, based on the needs of our future members. Our goal was to utilize a perfect balance of qualitative and quantitative information to inform the program’s development.”

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