For Iris, Participation and Personality Reign

Laura Gardiner says Iris is “the biggest little agency you’ve never heard of.”

The Senior of Data-Driven Futures Growth’s description of the customer loyalty management group is a perfect way to encapsulate all that they do. From developing successful and impactful programs such as IKEA Family, Samsung Rewards, and Pampers Club to focusing on vertical industries ranging from QSR to pharma, Iris has been quietly pushing loyalty onward.

As such, Gardiner and Iris Executive Strategy Director Dipti Bramhandkar spoke with Loyalty360 CEO Mark Johnson during a “Loyalty Live” session to discuss what brands are doing customer loyalty well, challenges in the sector, and how they use the “Participation Brand Index” (PBI) to analyze which brands are most successful in participation and impact metrics.


Pragmatic, Rational, And Emotional Based

To start off, Gardiner describes the organization’s take on “customer loyalty,” stating that it is about creating a bond that is pragmatic, rational, and emotional based on the perceived value of the brand and how they treat the member.

As she simply puts it, “The goal is to bring value and a rewarding experience.  Literally.”

When asked about the biggest opportunity in the loyalty industry, Johnson remarks that it is both an opportunity and challenge to meet the customer exactly where they are and with what they need while fully exceeding expectations. She notes that with today’s technology, there are varied channels that allow brands to do exactly this: engage wherever and whenever.

However, Gardiner stresses that you can’t just half-heartedly meet them – you need to amaze them with the right offer.

IKEA Family Dominating Home Goods Sector

Luckily for listeners, Gardiner is quick to answer which brands are doing exactly what she advised them to. She touts one of Iris’ own: IKEA, which is dominating in the home goods sector with their IKEA Family program, as an example to look towards. This program is notable due to its efforts to truly create a family atmosphere for members best utilized via participation.

“It is about checking in at the store location and getting rewards for being there rather than just spending money,” says Gardiner. “You get perks like lunches in their little restaurant, free drinks, consultations with their design specialists, and all that is around participation.”

AARP Rewards is another fine example of creating exceptional customer loyalty, says Gardiner. They also focus on participation, a core element of the IRIS strategy that Gardiner and Bramhandkar believe is necessary to implement in any quality program. By watching videos or going to a virtual book club, AARP has created a community that emphasizes comradery amongst members.

Looking ahead to a release of their latest PBI study, Bramhandkar says the workings of the study which analyzes data from 7,000 customers across 150 B2B and B2C brands globally and by using 25 meters of participation to calculate shows the impact of participation on brands. 

Significant Differences In Data Gathered

Dipti says there have been significant differences from the data gathered this year compared to previous years.

“For example, from 2018 to 2021, the study reveals that indifference towards brands has doubled,” says Bramhandkar. “In fact, the question that was asked is, ‘do you think about this brand regularly?’ And 8 out of 10 brands are not being thought about.”

The stats get startingly worse – 82% of consumers aren’t excited by brands, and 80% of brands are failing to emotionally connect with consumers. Dipti suggests that it’s not enough to gesture to consumers; it’s about commitment to communities and actively engaging with them. Essentially, brands must match their behaviors with their message, says Bramhandkar.

Iris represents a silent watcher over the loyalty industry – playing their part in ensuring loyalty is pushed as more engaging and participatory between both parties; as Ms. Gardiner perfectly puts it: “Loyalty is a two-way relationship, and the ultimate goal is to engage the member on a level that gets them to do the marketing for you.” Iris embodies this mantra perfectly.

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