4 Ways To Renew Your Brand's Experiential Rewards

The ripple effects of COVID-19 have changed how businesses attract and retain customers—and motivated many companies to change how they reward their loyal customers.

Offering transactional rewards attracts customers initially, but then it’s imperative to create emotional connections that bond customers to brands. To build strong relationships with your customers via experiential rewards, consider implementing these four strategies:

1. Reinforce relevant company values. Customers want to do business with brands that align with their values. Consumers expect brands to evolve, and they want proof of their ethical practices.

REI, for example, values protecting and sharing life outdoors. The company lives its ethics by raising money to restore nature and offset its carbon emissions. It engages members to support those same brand values.

2. Expand experiences with strategic partners. Customers often first encounter a brand via a partnership with another brand. Consider recent partnerships between LEGO and IKEA and between Lyft and Tinder. Finding strategic partners whose values align with and enhance your brand is a compelling way to improve your customers’ overall experiences.

  • Consider internal business partners. This may include brand divisions or other product or service areas that can bring new value and experiences to life for your customers.
  • Leverage corporate relationships. Sponsorships can offer access to special events and insider content, such as Amex sharing exclusive access to online and in-person event tickets for select cardmembers.
  • Examine potential partners that might solve customer pain points—or delight members. Given the challenging travel environment, many travel brands are embracing this strategy. Delta, for example, integrated Lyft rideshares into its app, enabling members to get around easily and earn SkyMiles at the same time.



3. Align experiential rewards with customer passions. Consumers are looking for enjoyment in life—now more than ever. Understanding your customers’ interests and providing valuable and appealing experiences engages customers and improves their perception of your brand.

Marriott makes the most of this strategy with its Marriott Bonvoy Moments program, which offers experiences matched to members’ interests in the arts, cuisine, entertainment, and sports.

While not all members are interested in reward experiences or able to access them, the offerings create positive impressions that can create a halo effect for the brand.

4. Deliver flawlessly—in digital and physical spaces. Providing experiences without glitches is a basic requirement. Impeccable delivery may require tech support—e.g., website development or app integration—or it may demand a highly personalized human touch.

  • Think physical and digital. Be prepared to execute in multiple spaces.
  • Know your limits. Target the number of members to whom you can reasonably deliver an exceptional, brand-boosting experience.
  • Provide training. Front-line, operations, and customer-service employees need to fully understand what’s required.
  • Consider costs. Does your brand pay for the experience? Do you share the cost with a partner brand or even the customer? Is the cost supplemented by a marketing program subsidy?

As we continue to encounter changing business realities, brands need to make nimble strategic adjustments. The key will be getting creative to find ways to create emotional connections through everyday brand experiences and reward offerings.

2 comments about "4 Ways To Renew Your Brand's Experiential Rewards".
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  1. Larry Wiken from WIKEN INT"L, February 25, 2022 at 2:16 p.m.

    Execellent read Barb. Well done!

  2. Barbara Olson from The Lacek Group replied, February 26, 2022 at 1:52 a.m.

    Thank you, Larry.  

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