Retaining customer loyalty in a brand-promiscuous online age

This post is sponsored by Collinson.

COVID-19 has introduced major disruption to our daily lives and our consumption habits, so it’s no surprise that this year’s unprecedented pandemic has also brought about a significant shift in what consumers want from their loyalty programmes.

More mindful about how they spend their money during the pandemic, consumers are choosing different brands, retail and shopping platforms versus before – and with Asia being the world’s fastest growing eCommerce market, these new behaviours have had a distinct impact on brand loyalty which are expected to continue well into the future.

Taking Collinson’s clients’ customer spend habits across online earn and redeem platforms, unprecedented shopping spikes and demand over the outbreak period have been seen – much of it concentrated around specific commerce categories.

What’s proven key is an understanding of the data, and having the ability to unlock it in order to identify consumers’ personal needs. In turn, enabling brands to better connect with their customers in terms of communications, while delivering the right products at the right moments to surprise, delight and show that you care. If consumers know a brand is looking out for them, there’s an emotional connection and trust that builds.

Brands and loyalty programmes need to make a concerted effort to better understand their customers and take action. Those who don’t risk being left behind. Here are three key items to consider when looking to retain customer loyalty in a COVID-19 world:

1. Provide flexibility

The first step is to enshrine flexibility into the DNA of the loyalty offer. Consumers in the post-COVID era are understandably anxious about signing up for benefits they can’t use. Many view their loyalty points as being actual currency – and they won’t quickly forget the experience of watching it devaluate or evaporate in 2020. In light of this, brands and loyalty programmes must be flexible in policy and upfront about communicating with consumers precisely how their points can be adapted and used in different scenarios. For instance, for households looking to save money, redeem platforms will allow shoppers to exchange their points for a wealth of items offered by leading global retailers – while keeping the brand offering access to the redeem platform front of mind. Similarly, a number of banks have identified relevant lifestyle rewards, local to where their customers live, signalling a move to providing enriched experiences as a redemption option.

2. Inspire positive action

The roller coaster of the past few months has left consumers needing to be reassured and given a measure of stability – but at the same time, this is not a moment for loyalty programmes to rest on their laurels or do things how they’ve always been done. Innovation is necessary to respond to the new normal, while also helping to inspire positive action at a challenging time in our lives. Brands should consider the rising consumer interest in being rewarded for healthy behaviour; how to convert rewards into retirement savings and cash; and how to be a part of the growing consumer appetite for loyalty programmes linked to social impact.

3. Make collaboration king

Finally, the importance of partnerships cannot be overstated. Giving consumers flexibility and continuing to evolve to meet their needs is too big a task for individual brands or loyalty programmes to achieve alone. Whether it’s financial institutions looking to grow their frequency of customer interactions, retailers that want to stand out or hospitality brands needing to drive deeper engagement even as travel remains largely offline – working together is the only way to create mutually valuable networks that engage and reward all kinds of customers.

Going forward, the most successful brands will continue to uncover meaningful data to better engage customers, drive spend, and in turn, generate diversified revenue streams for their business.

 

Collinson is a global leader in customer loyalty. For over 30 years, it has been chosen by the world’s leading payment networks – including Visa, AMEX and Mastercard – 1,400+ banks, 90+ airlines, and 20+ hotel groups, to craft customer experiences that provide competitive edges and deepen customer loyalty.