What does loyalty look like in the digital marketing age? It most definitely has to be more than a card with a points system that nobody understands. But what does that look like?
It’s a question I’ve been asking myself and writing about recently as I took a look at what two great British brands, Hackett, the high street tailor and Naked Wines, the data-driven social wine site.
But first, a thought about what it isn’t. Regular readers may recall I was dismissive of the loyalty system set up recently by my favourite supermarket, Waitrose. I love it because it is part of the cooperative movement ,and it shows in how staff treat one another and their customers.
However, I think they listened to a guru with a ponytail in Shoreditch just a little too eagerly recently, with their ‘My Waitrose’ service. It was flagged as the next big thing in loyalty. The reality was that it was confusing.
By selecting offers and adding them to your card, things just got complicated. Was the favourites section there to show me what I buy most frequently, or is it the offers I’ve activated? Nobody could remember, and everyone was thinking the same thing -- just run the offers and let me decide in-store. You can deduct the money-off deal when I present my card at the check-in.
A letter in the mail today and a note on the site today reveal that the system is closing at the end of this month for a very simple reason. Nobody understood it. It was just too complicated, when compared to simply running offers that people could decide on in-store.
Yet it’s still my favourite supermarket. Why? Well, the produce is great, but being a card-carrying loyalty club member, I get a free coffee and a paper. I also get to park in a free car park with wide berths for today’s large cars. In a word – experience.
That’s what I was chatting to Hackett about too. It’s building up a loyalty scheme which does offer a deal or two here or there. Crucially, though, the point is the loyalty club will store your details, including your measurements.
It means you pop into any store and they can instantly tell you what you’ve bought before and what might work for you today, with no need to go through measurements. It can all be taken off the peg and set aside for you to try, in the right size.
Similarly, Naked Wines offers a superior customer experience through not just giving its members a free bottle of wine when they buy a dozen or more bottles. There are wine ratings and a matching service, based on your history. Plus, the wine makers are members too, posting comments and pictures to update their "fans" on how close that latest Shiraz is to hitting the warehouse.
It would be churlish to suggest that modern loyalty has nothing to do with points and money-off deals because clearly these can shape customer behaviour. Since joining up to Avios, for example, I’ve flown a lot more frequently with BA.
However, that’s not where a marketer can consider their job done. The guys who are getting loyalty right understand that digital can be used to store customer preferences and to bring customers together.
They also understand all of this is pointless unless it leads to something that surprises and delights people in-store. Whether it’s a hassle free suit fitting, because staff knew your sizes, or a cup of coffee in a store where it’s easy to park, modern loyalty is all about customer experience.
To be honest, it always has been, but now we have digital to make it just that little bit extra special and personalised.