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Why Having a Safe Loyalty Program Could Spell Danger For Your Customer Engagement

Nearly 70% of consumers belong to one to four loyalty programs, but that same percentage uses less than half of their memberships on a monthly basis. 

And with over 90% of companies having some type of customer loyalty program, that’s a lot of competition vying for a share of consumers’ hearts, minds and dollars.  
Being afraid to think outside the box can lead to a safe loyalty program by just doing what others are doing. A safe loyalty program is one that offers few engagement opportunities and incentives to entice members. 
In the consumers’ world, your program needs to stand out to attract and retain customers – and playing it too safe with your loyalty program could spell danger when it comes to long-term engagement. It’s important to step away from beige and stand out from the competition.  

So, how can you avoid having a lackluster loyalty program? 

Here are five things you can do to make your loyalty program more vibrant: 

1. Be True to Your Brand Through Your Loyalty Program 

Standout creative can differentiate any loyalty program. 

Take 19 Crimes, a premium Australian wine brand, for example. It infuses its storied history and rebellious nature into an ownable, equity-rich marketing platform that raises the bar for other loyalty programs: 

Name – It’s not 19 Crimes Rewards, it’s 19 Crimes Infamous Insider Rewards.  

Structure – Insiders redeem Infamy points in the Rewards Commissary, not points in a catalog.  

Products – Insiders can purchase the Necessary Contraband, not eligible products. 

Just like its customers and wines, 19 Crimes doesn’t conform to the status quo.  

Instead, it teaches a master class in creativity by using vivid iconography and evocative words to showcase its defiant, bold and uncompromising spirit through its loyalty program. 

19 Crimes Infamous Insider Rewards

2. Keep Your Loyalty Program Fresh 

Enrich your color palette with ongoing enhancements, like updating content, introducing new rewards and adding more engagement-based activities

When you continuously update your loyalty program, you’ll keep it fresh and top of mind.  

Sephora’s “Beauty Insider” program stays relevant with bi-weekly reward “drops” in its “Rewards Bazaar” and new point-earning opportunities at brand events, like Sephoria 2022, where insiders turned participation into points in an immersive metaverse experience.  

Ongoing refreshes aren’t enough to build and sustain your loyalty program. 

All brand channels, communications and media play a pivotal role in preventing your program’s colors from fading. 

After all, you wouldn’t throw a party without invitations and the same holds for loyalty. 

3. Paint Your Loyalty Program with Loyalty Amplifiers  

Amplifiers tied to your loyalty program keep it fresh while also driving incremental business objectives like acquisition, engagement and sales, to name a few.  

By leveraging amplifiers to support shorter-term objectives, brands have a veritable kaleidoscope of colors to choose from and are only limited by their imaginations. 
Take for instance Chipotle Rewards’ “Buy the Dip” game where members could win $200,000+ in free cryptocurrency or 1-cent “dips,” like guacamole and Queso Blanco.  

Chipotle cleverly used the crypto-themed game to announce it accepts cryptocurrency and member-gated it to drive program enrollment and lapsed user re-engagement. This was also the ultimate lead-in to National Avocado Day when all members could receive 1-cent guacamole. 

Loyalty amplifiers can take many forms like games of chance, trivia, rebates or short-term subscription passes. Every tactic suits a different need (or in the case of Chipotle, sometimes four or five!).  

Once you have identified your objective and strategically chosen a supporting mechanic, increase your program’s vibrancy with motivating prizes and engaging creative hooks. 

4. Engage Your Community Through Your Loyalty Program 

The best community engagement happens organically via social, but you can also add pops of color to your loyalty program by creating staunch advocates, as 7REWARDS does with its community within a community, The Brainfreeze Collective.  

7-Eleven invites this self-identified group of 7REWARDS members to participate in panels, surveys and other activities to influence brand decisions, such as what to name 7-Eleven’s new online merchandise store or what cup design to use for its new seasonal Slurpee.  

In addition to behind-the-scenes access, members can also earn beaucoup 7REWARDS points.  

Creating and sustaining a community within your loyalty program is no easy feat. The goal is not to re-create social platforms within your walled loyalty garden, but to identify and activate a fiercely loyal community that advocates for your brand with their hearts, minds and dollars. 

5. Give Meaning to Your Loyalty Program 

To add depth to your loyalty program, empower members to contribute to the greater good. Adding donations to your rewards catalog is one way to do this, but to effect change, incentivize members to adopt new behaviors that serve a bigger purpose. 

REI gives meaning to its Member Co-op Program by offering benefits that create a more equitable and inclusive outdoor community.  

For every new member, the company donates $5 to the REI Cooperative Action Fund, a public charity that gives to nonprofits that promote justice, equity and belonging in the outdoors.  

REI also rewards co-op members for buying and trading in used gear, and offers discounted services, equipment rentals and outdoor experiences. 

Like REI, bring your brand values to life and add dimension to your loyalty program by giving members additional ways to make meaningful contributions to the greater community.  

This could mean incorporating charitable giving into your program, offering altruistic program benefits and rewarding members for behavioral changes that support the common good. 

Your Brand Isn’t Ordinary, So Your Loyalty Program Shouldn’t Be Any Different 

When it comes down to it, loyalty programs are blank canvases with limitless opportunities.  

The success or failure of a loyalty program is up to you, how you design it, how you present it to the public and how you continuously monitor, manage and update it. 

How you paint your loyalty program depends entirely on your business needs, but with the right colors you can make your program stand out in a sea of sameness. 

After all, your brand isn’t ordinary, so why would your loyalty program be any different? 

Jennifer Kunz

Jen is our Director of Client Strategy. She works with brands to strategize omnichannel loyalty and customer engagement solutions that excite and delight consumers from sofa to sale. Outside of work, she enjoys hanging out with her husband and fur baby, Leo, playing classic video games and fangirling over Vegas rockers, The Killers.

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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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