How Technology is changing the Trend of Loyalty Programs

Abhishek Sharma ,Chairman, Akkado | Business magzine

Loyalty industry is one the most rapidly growing industries. 64 percent of brands reported an increase in loyalty program membership over the last year and it is bound to increase in 2019. This phenomenal rise can be attributed to the major shift in how professionals perceive a Loyalty program to be. A more sophisticated model, for one, along with a shift from traditional spend-and-get model to Omni-channel and multichannel approach are the major factors which have proved to be an efficient way to curate a Loyalty program. It recognizes customers for every interaction they make with a brand.
Marketers understand the importance of consumer data and hence, leverage the consumer data to effectively market it for the better understanding of their niche audience.
Abhishek Sharma, Chairman, Akkado says “I have been seeing significant advancements in loyalty sector as brands seek new ways to add value for their customers. Akkado, with its perfect blend of teams, is doing impressive work in creating everlasting campaigns.
Let’s dive into the deep end of the loyalty industry and understand the trends that are going to change the perspective.
Omnichannel and multichannel programs are replacing traditional programs
Ritesh Sharma, Executive Director at Akkado, thinks “More and more brands are adopting omnichannel-based loyalty programs, which are proving to be very effective”.
Omnichannel loyalty programs prove to be a lot efficient in connecting respective customers with all the program touch points without any hassle and also aid program members to avail rewards for the engagement across all channels. Furthermore, the omnichannel data gives an opportunity to the brand to drive personalized communications for their customers which is an essential aspect of seamless customer experiences. These programs keep members engaged and informed about the brand and help promote the brand benefits to a wider audience, turning members into brand advocates. Also, the brands can work on devising better marketing solutions for their respective customers by leveraging the engagement data.
Consumers expect personalization is off a mindset that there is a correlation between personalization and customer satisfaction.
79 percent of customers surveyed indicated that they are very satisfied with loyalty programs with high personalization and that loyalty programs that make customers feel special and recognized had 2.7 times more satisfied members. We feel that consumers are willing to share data to get personalized experiences. The customer data captured through the Multi-channel loyalty programs help a brand to offer personalized solutions and recommendations. It also helps in promotions and even cross-sell or upsell and relevant products or services. Needless to say, today, there are many retailers who are opting for personalization to better the existing customer strategies. Using social media as a platform, the brands have expanded their grips of the consumers and ringfenced with different kind of loyalty rewards that have to engage and interacted with them.
Partnerships have increased. 2016 saw brand partnerships take center stage as a strategy for growth and 2018 was the year that saw maximum partnerships being built. In 2019 we’re hoping to see an increasing number of brands seek out strategic partners to stay ahead of the competition.
The sole reason for this is evident in the additional value that gets added up in the existing set of services with the right partnerships. Irrespective of if it is an evergreen program or a loyalty campaign, the right partnerships open up new opportunities for the brands to offer exciting rewards to their customers to drive sales and loyalty.
Consumers expect brands to be socially responsible
In today’s generation, millennials’ expect companies to go beyond generating profit and serve as drivers of change and become active in their communities. People connect with brands who besides creating a business for themselves give it back in the form of positive social and environmental initiates. Brands with an ongoing Corporate Social Responsibility program are more inclined to generate a loyal following of customers. So much so, that almost 66 percent of consumers are even willing to pay an extra sum to avail services from such brands.
Premium loyalty programs are becoming more appealing. We’re seeing a wave of premium program launches
The reason why premium loyalty programs are gaining popularity is that members want the benefits that many programs are giving and are willing to pay for it. According to a consumer study from last year, “62 percent of respondents said they’d consider joining a fee-based rewards program if their favorite retailer offered one.” This number was even higher amongst the millennials, with 75 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds and 77 percent of 25- to 34-year-olds saying they’d consider joining a fee-based rewards program. These numbers tend to rise in 2019 with the number of brands opting for the premium loyalty programs. The tier system has been incorporated in many brands which an idea of attracting the consumers towards the benefits which gets premium tier by tier.
Ritesh Sharma – Executive Director of Akkado says “The success and evolution of these programs demonstrate that PowerUp Rewards members see the value in paying a fee for their status in the program.”
Emotional loyalty is the key
Abhishek Sharma says “In loyalty programs, emotion is one of the strongest & unique drivers that connect with the consumers at the deeper level.” This means companies must invest in measurement frameworks which can help in an efficient understanding of different emotions and actions one should elicit across interaction points to evoke true loyalty. The idea is to establish and solidify relationships with consumers, as well as to build an emotional connection with their most frequent shoppers. The brands are going beyond the consumers and connecting with their families. A power move in the same regard is the inclusion of an entire family in the program that constitutes a plethora of rewards for everyone.
AI and Chatbots & Apps are improving customer engagement
Chatbot technology is creating a lot of buzz in the market. There are plenty of companies who are investing in it and sooner these tools of efficient customer management are expected to become a prominent part of mainstream customer engagement.
By 2020, human interactions, vis-à-vis company, and consumers will fall to as low as 15 percent. All the common issues such as placing an order or others can be efficiently managed by the chatbots for better all-around consumer experience. With the assistance of Chatbots, consumers won’t have to visit a company website or visit the respective store in person.
Even personalized applications have connected consumers with the brand seamlessly. A medium that has all the information about the offers have been working in the favor of the brand as they have tapped the convenience of the consumers.
Abhishek Sharma, Chairman, Akkado says “2019 is going to be a big year for the loyalty industry as the scope has increased and with widened horizons, we have plenty of data to target the consumers with different kinds of offers and ringfence them.” 

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