When Marvel recently launched its first-ever loyalty program, powered by CrowdTwist, could that have opened the doors to, possibly, a new era in customer loyalty?

Peter Phillips, EVP/GM, Interactive & Distribution for Marvel, told Loyalty360 that the new program is all about customer engagement.

“Marvel Insider is unique in that the program is really about fan engagement, rather than points for purchase,” Phillips explained. “Our fans have such tremendous appetite for everything we do, but sometimes it’s hard to keep up with everything. There’s so much in the Marvel Universe that spans movies, TV, comics, games, digital media, and consumer products and MARVEL INSIDER is a great platform for bringing fans the latest and greatest content from across all our lines of business and keeping them current on what’s going on.”

Loyalty360 caught up with CrowdTwist CMO Geoff Smith to inquire about this potential new trend in customer loyalty programs.

Loyalty seems to be transcending industries. How does the latest announcement by Marvel influence this?

Smith: There is a new era for customer loyalty programs. Loyalty is no longer confined to the retail or travel and hospitality industries. Many industries are historically disintermediate from customers. They include Consumer Packaged Goods, cosmetics, beauty, consumer electronics, and media and entertainment brands. They don’t have a direct relationship with customers. Yet brands in these industries are seeing the benefits that loyalty programs offer. Loyalty programs are a great mechanism to build customer loyalty and strengthen relationships.

What do deals like this mean for the industry overall?

Smith: This is great news for the loyalty industry. Deals outside of traditional industries with such programs reinforce the fact that loyalty continues to evolve. It’s harder than ever to win and keep customers. Smart marketers know that it’s important to meet consumers on their terms and to reach them in the channels that are most meaningful to their lifestyles. That’s the concept of multichannel loyalty. Now, we are starting to see traction from other industries that are trying to solve the same challenge of retaining customers and keeping them brand loyal.

How is multichannel loyalty influencing customer engagement?

Smith: Connecting with consumers today requires that brands motivate and engage their audience across every channel—in-store, online, mobile, and social. To achieve this, brands are leveraging multichannel loyalty solutions. These programs serve as the connective tissue through which customers interact with brands to strengthen customer engagement. For example, brands are incentivizing and rewarding the very actions consumers take—watching a video, posting a product review, retweeting a brand post, checking-in to a store, etc.—to reinforce brand connections and greater loyalty. By implementing a full-scale multichannel loyalty program, companies can drive greater customer engagement to achieve a better understanding of consumers, greater sales, and long term loyalty.

Do you see any restrictions on where multichannel loyalty won’t apply to industries?

Smith: If executed well, multichannel loyalty can apply to virtually any industry where brands want to acquire and retain customers, drive engagement, learn more about their audience, and grow their bottom line. Multichannel loyalty has opened the door for a variety of industries to connect with their customers and succeed.

What do you see for the future of brand activations and customer loyalty?

Smith: Brand activation is a crucial part of building a positive perception of a company. That’s where loyalty programs can help. They reach consumers across channels that are most meaningful. Loyalty programs also provide brands with greater customer insight to use for remarketing purposes. What’s more, they create engagement touchpoints that allow businesses to reach customers and create emotional connections that they couldn’t otherwise achieve. The future is bright for brands and customer loyalty. Companies that will win will be those that center their loyalty marketing efforts around customers, across channels, and interweave engagement elements that users will embrace for the long term.

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