The Quest for Loyalty

Looking at the loyalty programs of these top performing brands may inform your approach to customers, brand and product.

In the last two decades, customer loyalty has been redefined. A range of factors including online shopping – which opens them up to choice and gives customers the power to compare products and pricing – and social media, which lets customers call out unsatisfactory practice and hold businesses to account for their behaviour, has ushered in an economy where the consumer is in control.

As their options and power increases, many are quick to shift brand choices, prompting some business commentators to declare the death of brand loyalty. There’s plenty of evidence to suggest loyalty remains alive and well; however, it is just a little harder to secure in increasingly competitive markets. To help us rethink our definition of patron loyalty, let’s take a look into other industries where loyalty programs, both classic and innovative, are securing longterm business from long-term customers.

1. Coles Flybuys – Tried and True

The supermarket giant repeatedly makes it to number one spot in ‘For Love or Money’, an annual study by customer loyalty consultancy The Point of Loyalty, which asks consumers to list ‘loyalty programs doing a very good job’ in their opinion.

Users gain points every time they shop at Coles, which, once accrued, can be spent on household items, tickets and retreats, grocery or gift vouchers. Flybuys points can be used and accrued at a range of partner companies like Kmart, Target, Adidas and eBay, making the loyalty program a powerful one in terms of reach.

2. General Motors Onstar (US) – Always on Hand

OnStar is an in-car paid subscription service connecting GM drivers with a network of advisers and capabilities designed to provide customer service in real time. Add to this app capabilities like remote start, remote locking and unlocking, and driver recognition. Customers can check their fuel levels, oil, tyre pressure and more via the app, which is in turn connected to OnStar’s advisers.

OnStar’s live advisers can be called directly from the car in cases when assistance is required. The solution enables GM to provide excellent customer service beyond the point of sale, and adds a revenue stream to the business.

As fewer people own cars and fewer still remain loyal to one brand as they upgrade throughout their lives, OnStar helps GM realise its new approach to loyalty, which is maximising its ‘share of miles per lifetime’ of a customer, as opposed to the number of cars purchased.

3. Patagonia – True Longevity

While not a loyalty program per se, Patagonia’s famous Worn Wear Wagon repair program enables the brand to live by its ‘lifetime guarantee’ values and maintain loving customers for years. The Wagon traverses the country, repairing the clothes of delighted customers, delivering extra value for their old purchases. Further adding to the value and encouraging a new wave of customers, the Wagon has been a publicity hit, as TV news media has covered the campaign and consumers have shared the message – both posting shots of the Wagon repairing their clothes and also bringing their previous photos of happy memories spent in the great outdoors throughout the years wearing the outdoor clothing brand.

Today, it’s evident that another way to secure consumers’ hard-earned funds is to give them a way to support causes they believe in through your product. Patagonia’s a great place to start if you’re looking for inspiration in this department.

4. Netflix – Deep Understanding

Netflix is a fine example of a brand that uses the latest in technology to understand its customers and drive loyalty. By logging and tracking their viewing behaviour Netflix is able to offer an automated, sharply-curated range of program suggestions to viewers, minimising the need for users to switch off or return to TV, DVDs or the internet for their entertainment. Customers are hooked and Netflix’s stocks are growing.

5. Qantas – Beyond the Tarmac

For Qantas, a loyalty program has enabled the company to spread its product further into the lives of members. Its frequent flyer points program has partnered with a range of accommodation, hire car and experience vendors, retaining customer business in its network after they step off the aeroplane. Beyond travel, the loyalty program also includes banking, Qantas Money financial services, shopping and retail options, food and wine programs and even insurance.

This article was first published in State of Play, Issue 5, 2019

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