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5 Things Customers Expect From Your Premium Loyalty Program in 2020

Eighty-eight percent of consumers agree retailers could do more to earn their long-term loyalty.

From a customer perspective, an attractive premium loyalty program should contain certain elements.

And if these elements aren’t all present in your program, customers won’t take notice.

Here are five must-have traits customers will be searching for in a winning loyalty program in 2020.


1. A Shared Passion

You’ve worked hard to establish your brand, delivering experiential benefits that convey a sense of membership and speak to a passion your brand identity evokes will differentiate you from the competition.

Perhaps, tapping into a passion involves content associated with apparel or lifestyle.

A great example is REI, a brand synonymous with an outdoor lifestyle.

Selling product is the entry point and REI doubles-down on its members’ collective passion by providing classes, adventure travel options, product recommendations, and advice.

A product purchase is just one of a myriad of reasons that drives members back to the store or site.

REI aims these adventures at REI Co-Op members with significant discounts.

These experiential benefits offer a sense of exclusivity and feeling like a member of a club.

It sets REI apart and helps build customer loyalty.


2. A Simple and Clear Value Proposition

Of course, transactional benefits remain attractive and are a great entry point to a premium loyalty program. Meaningful discounts capture attention.

The full value of your program, however, needs to be clear, concise, and easy to understand. The math needs to be simple, answering the question: “What will I receive in return for my membership payment?”

If that message is unclear, the customer will pocket the purchase discount and move on.

For example, to join the LIDS Access Pass Premium loyalty program costs only $5 a year. Among several other benefits, program members receive 20% off all hat purchases.

Simple, straightforward, and engaging.


3. Loyalty with a Subscription Component

Subscription remains a hot topic and premium loyalty programs have been out in front of this trend.

Subscriptions are not new. People are now comfortable with subscriptions and they don’t mind paying for things that are valuable.

From the way we watch movies, to the way we buy our meals, subscriptions have become a big part of daily life.

Media has always been at the forefront of subscriptions (i.e. cable and news Netflix, Hulu, and music).

Today you can buy almost any disposable item via subscription, from razors, to contacts, to diapers, to pet food.

Consumers are comfortable with subscriptions and understand that they are paying for better benefits and that’s where the value lies.

You can’t just charge for a program and call it a premium loyalty program.

Successful subscriptions require two-way commitments and premium loyalty programs need to be structured that way as well.

Amazon’s highly successful Prime program is the shining example of premium loyalty.


4. Instant Benefits for an Instant Culture

We live in an instant culture, which begs the reference to Veruca Salt’s song, “I Want It Now,” from the 1971 classic film, “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.”

Consumers want things when they want them and that usually means now.

Wait a week for shipping? No way.

Amazon’s Prime program upped the ante on fast, free shipping and people will gladly pay to get their deliveries in the blink of an eye.

Wait in line? TSA Precheck and Disney World offer passes that allow consumers to skip lines.

There’s no need to wait for the next episode of your favorite show because you can stream the whole season.

Need to contact a company? Chat and Twitter eliminate the need to wait on hold on the phone.

This expectation of instant applies everywhere, especially retail. And in loyalty, members want enticing benefits and they don’t want to wait for them.

The cadence of loyalty program benefits is extremely important to consumers, especially when collective patience is limited.

Immediate and frequent benefits are expected.

As a result, a premium loyalty model creates an “instant culture” whereby members can engage with the program 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

And your customers are happy to pay for that value.


5. Ease of Use

Customers expect speedy access to program benefits and the related convenience that the best of technology allows.

That interface, however, should not assume customer technical proficiency. It needs to be simple. Cumbersome tech is a program destroyer.

A specific ongoing communication strategy is also essential. You cannot assume your program and its value proposition will remain top of mind.

Program members need to know where they stand, what have they earned and saved, what’s new, and what’s next.

Having in-store associates that are well educated and excited to spread the message about your program is important.

Offering an easy-to-use dashboard so members can always see what’s going on is impactful, along with regular emails / messages to let them know about exclusive deals, etc.


Keep the Focus on the Customer

Although it might seem trite, keeping a steady focus on your customers will always lead you along a path to success.

Listen to them and reward them. Often.

Engage them in experiences that only your brand can, but don’t forget transactional benefits because people still value them.

Make your program simple and easy-to-understand with a strong value proposition and regular communication. After all, these are your best customers.

If you follow these steps, your 2020 looks bright and engaging!

Tony Muro

Tony is Vice President of Strategic Partnerships at Clarus Commerce. For over 25 years, Tony has driven revenue generation for Financial Service, Retail, Ecommerce and Travel & Hospitality partners by delivering winning customer acquisition, activation and retention solutions. Tony is an empty nest newbie with two daughters just taking flight. He's also a lapsed Minnesota Vikings fan who can be found tormenting his over 40 soccer league opponents on the weekends.

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ebbo™ is an all-in-one loyalty company. With our data driven strategy, full-service approach, and the unwavering support of the people behind the platform, our dedicated team will work with you to understand your loyalty goals, innovate solutions and help you build customer engagement on repeat.

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