Earning customer loyalty today is more challenging than ever for retailers.
We live in the Age of the Customer where consumers have virtually unlimited options. It’s easy to switch brands based on price and availability.
Most traditional loyalty programs have been driven by points, discounts, and rewards back to the consumer. But today’s consumer has so many choices of where to shop.
They are bombarded with discount coupons and DTC brands on their social feeds. There are a lot of variables influencing where they will make their next purchase. That’s why it’s more important than ever to use a loyalty program as a differentiator to connect with them on a deeper level and earn long term loyalty.
Experiential and emotional benefits play a major role in this. That’s where things like social causes and the charitable organizations that your brand supports enter the loyalty equation.
The Causes That Attract Millennials
Many consumers want to do business with companies that share their values and social/cause interests. And Millennials are the generation most active in this area as 84 percent donate to charitable organizations.
Twenty-nine percent of Millennials favor monetary donations. They are more likely to donate items like clothes, food, and supplies (41 percent) and volunteer their time (27 percent).
Millennials want to find different ways to make an impact when they need to be tighter with their cash compared to other generations.
That’s why it’s so important for brands to stand for something and create loyalty on a deeper, emotional level.
So, What Are Retailers Doing About It?
Many retailers have created partnerships with charitable organizations that align with their brand messages and causes they (and their consumers) care about.
In several cases, these partnerships are woven into the fabric of their respective loyalty programs, providing members an easy way to support these causes.
- United Airlines Mileage Plus members can make donations to the American Red Cross.
- DSW and Soles4Souls: DSW customers have a chance to give back through the company’s loyalty program. When DSW VIP members donate a pair of new or lightly worn shoes at any location, they receive 50 reward points.
- Members of REI Co-op loyalty program pay $20- for a lifetime membership. Every year, the co-op invests in the work of nonprofit partners who help hundreds of organizations improve outdoor access for all. What’s more, for loyal REI customers who hold an REI credit card, REI donates to the National Forest Foundation every time they use their card, which is a great opportunity for any outdoor enthusiast.
- Warby Parker: For every pair of Warby Parker glasses purchased, a pair of glasses is distributed to someone in need.
- Dozens of companies like Signet Jewelers, Dominos, and New York & Company are proud supporters of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
Just make sure your brand is authentic in doing this. Customers can see right through if that’s not the case. Authenticity and consistency on how you represent your business and what your brand stands are essential.
It’s all about the customers and that connection to customers must be as authentic as it can possibly be. Brand transparency will help you attract, acquire, and retain loyal customers.
Common Beliefs United People and Brands
More than ever, consumers want to shop with brands who they feel are dedicated to giving back, particularly with causes they also believe in and support.
Your loyalty program needs to be unique for your customers. Highlighting charitable causes is a great way to engage new members. Finding a charitable organization that has a natural link to a retailer’s business resonates with consumers.
This can be done through collecting donations at POS, donating a part of your proceeds toward your charity partner, or allowing donations of member rewards through your loyalty program.
These emotional moments go a long way toward delivering higher levels of brand loyalty.
Loyalty is developed over time and through a series of moments. It’s not just based on transactional moments.
It is also about emotional connections a brand makes with its customers. The softer, less tangible moments are just as important as giving a reward or discount.
What charitable causes could your brand stand behind that would be supported by your customers?