Even as brick-and-mortar retail begins to reopen, most consumers have shifted to online shopping over the past few months.
The playing field is leveling out for all types of retailers, even those whose physical stores were a huge advantage like grocery and furniture.
So, how do you build sustainable loyalty with the evolved shopper who has even more choice than ever?
The answer has to do with how you make them feel.
Loyalty Members Want Exclusivity
Ninety-four percent of Americans would take advantage of an exclusive offer.
That’s a staggering statistic for retailers to ponder.
Exclusivity makes a loyalty program more attractive, compelling, and desirable.
And if you look up synonyms for that word, three words that you find are: Private, elegant, and unique.
Behaviorally speaking, there is also the FOMO effect in play here that complements the exclusivity mindset.
When your program members feel they’re getting access and benefits that not everyone else has, that usually leads to emotional connections that are the cornerstone of brand loyalty.
It would seem to follow that a loyalty program filled with exclusive benefits would be quite attractive to consumers.
Although many consumers look to loyalty programs to provide savings, they also want to feel special.
They want to feel like they are a part of something special, like an exclusive club.
This is where customer data plays a major role because brands need it to create personalized and relevant experiences.
How brands leverage their customer data differentiates their loyalty programs.
A brand’s loyalty program forms emotional connections with its most valuable customers.
That sense of community and exclusivity connects consumers to brands and helps form deep emotional bonds.
Consider the massive impact emotional connections have on sustainable customer loyalty:
Consumers with an emotional connection to a brand have a 306% higher lifetime value, stay with a brand for an average of 5.1 years vs. 3.4 years, and will recommend brands at a much higher rate (71% vs. 45%).
How Do Brands Achieve That Exclusive Appeal?
Brands like Restoration Hardware, Lululemon, REI, 1-800-Flowers, CVS, and Cinemark offer loyalty programs that include exclusive benefits.
For example, when members of Lululemon’s premium loyalty program pay their $128 annual membership they receive a pair of pants or shorts with a special logo on them.
The neat thing about this is the pants carry an exclusive logo that helps program members identify and connect with
So, when you see someone with that same logo at yoga class, it sparks connections and helps build relationships.
While this is harder to do post-pandemic, perhaps Lululemon’s acquisition of Mirror can help make this experience virtual.
REI’s Co-op premium loyalty program only costs $25 per year and includes special member pricing on classes, events, and rentals; member-only events; and an annual member dividend.
The outdoor aspect of these experiential benefits will help REI thrive post-pandemic.
Meanwhile, Restoration Hardware’s RH Members Program charges members a $100 annual fee in return for 25% savings on all full-priced items, an additional 20% savings on all sale items, concierge service to manage your orders, and early access to clearance events.
Setting Yourself Apart
Nearly 70% of consumers agree that their loyalty is more difficult for a retailer to maintain than ever before.
So, the time to set yourself apart from your competition is now.
Differentiation in your loyalty program is triggered by offering exclusive benefits.
If you want to stand out among your competitors and make your customers feel like they stand out as well, offer exclusive loyalty program benefits that make your brand top of mind all the time.
What are you doing to make your loyalty program exclusive to your members?