As most brand representatives know, the customer loyalty space is changing. While transaction-based loyalty programs are still going strong, brands are beginning to develop programs designed to build deep emotional connections with customers. In addition, brands have to manage the temptation to expand exponentially, even though they might be more profitable at a smaller level. Brands also face tightening data regulations, which pose additional problems. Recently, Loyalty360 spoke with Matthew Kates, Chief Marketing Officer at PrizeLogic, to discuss these very issues.
 
PrizeLogic partners with agencies and brands to help them find more effective ways to achieve business objectives. It offers acquisition, engagement, sales, loyalty, advocacy, and insight solutions designed to facilitate implementation of loyalty programs. The company’s Engage platform combines industry insights with turnkey data activation to offer incentivized engagement strategies.
 
How has customer loyalty changed over the last few years?
 
There’s been a continual evolution away from transaction-only loyalty programs (i.e., “buy this, get that”) to models that heavily integrate emotional and experiential components. This is an important and valuable evolution because, like any relationship, loyalty is built on emotion and experience. It’s especially exciting to see examples of loyalty programs that integrate elements designed to enhance the product experience. A high-profile example is Starbucks use of mobile ordering and mobile paying which creates a win-win by providing a better consumer experience while delivering operational and cost efficiency to the brand.
 
Should all brands strive to have the brand recognition of Apple or Amazon? Why or why not? 
 
I don’t believe that’s realistic and ultimately could be a recipe for failure for many brands. Not all brands have that potential, and even for some who do, it might not lead to the best financial outcome. There are many strong, lesser known niche players who are financially stronger than bigger brand names. Instead of striving to have the brand recognition of Apple or Amazon, companies should strive to have the same brand relevancy with their target consumers as those two iconic brands.
 
What strategies should brands adopt in relation to stricter data regulations?
 
The best place to start is for brands to focus on creating strategies built around developing their own first party consumer data that is built on mutual value exchange—trading value to get value. First-party data is not only a strategy to address stricter data regulations. It arguably leads to higher quality consumer data because it’s authentic, fresher, and built on your own consumers versus third-party model matches. This approach doesn’t necessarily require a radical operational change. There are many simple things brands can do to harness first-party data from their existing marketing executions and loyalty programs.
 
What does the phrase “customer journey” mean to you?
 
Today’s customer journey isn’t a linear progression from search to discovery to purchase resulting in loyalty and advocacy. It’s a series of independent brand-consumer interactions. The key words are “independent interactions.” Brands can’t simply rely on a natural linear progression from one point on the journey to the next. Consumers take different brand interaction paths, sometimes forwards, backwards, and sideways, and brands must fight for each of those interactions by creating a mutual value exchange
 
What does authenticity and trust mean to you?
 
Brand authenticity creates consumer trust. It means to you to check your ego at the door and honestly assess your brand—the good, the bad, and the ugly. That doesn’t mean you have to be 100 percent transparent by airing your brand’s dirty laundry. However, if you don’t start crafting your position and messaging from an honest, authentic place, you won’t fool anyone, and consumers will see right through it.
 
How important is personalization within loyalty?
 
Personalization is an extremely important element of every loyalty program. Successful loyalty programs are no different than successful personal relationships. They’re based on listening and getting to know each other. Using the dating analogy to illustrate the point—if over the course of a few dates, Person A tells Person B about herself but Person B continues to speak as if he hadn’t heard a word Person A has said, there will be no long-term relationship. However, while personal relationships are truly one-to-one, personalization in loyalty relationships has to be based on an efficient one-to-many strategy to succeed.
 
Conclusion
 
It is true that the customer loyalty space is evolving, but there are several strategies brands can use to adapt. They can add emotional and experiential components to their loyalty programs to earn deeper loyalty. They can strive to remain relevant to their target customers without over-extending. They can also begin to amass first-party data to deal with data regulations. Doing these things with the help of a trusted technology provider can lead to a successful program.
 

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