“You give loyalty, you’ll get it back”… What We’ve Been Reading This Week at Brand Genetics

The days of old-fashioned reward systems and paper coupons are well and truly over, giving marketeers and strategists the space and creative licence to step-change what loyalty programs can do for their customers. Moving from broad-brush to bespoke, and from transactional to experiential, loyalty has the potential to be a real growth lever for brands who have the appetite to shift their proposition.

Here are two powerful ways brands are rethinking loyalty that have caught our eye…

Collect experiences, not things

Hotel brands are going beyond just providing travellers with a place to sleep. They’re expanding their loyalty offerings to become all-encompassing experience platforms.

Marriott Hotels have invested heavily in PlacePass to add more than 100,000 unique travel experiences to their loyalty program, offering high-end, self-improvement activities. Guests are able to bid rewards points for master classes such as private basketball training with Dwayne Wade or a cooking lesson with Eric Ripert.

With 61% of hotel guests now choosing a loyalty program based on experience rather than points-based rewards, Marriott spotted the trend before it happened and have moved ahead of their competition as a result.

But all that glitters is not gold. AirBnB is now taking aim at hotel loyalty programs with their new “Superguest” membership scheme, which will offer benefits across the guest’s entire trip — unique experiences and the perks they care about most.

With the company looking to host more than a billion people by 2028, if just 10% of these guests join their loyalty program, they will have a membership of 100 million loyal disciples. Not bad for a hotel chain that doesn’t own a room.

Twice as much, twice as often

As is so often the case, Amazon are still blazing a trail for others to follow.

Amazon Prime has turned the notion of the loyalty program model on its head. Rather than seeing it as an add on, Jeff Bezos has turned loyalty into the core product. They have made people feel like they have elevated status, even though you pay for it — and absolutely anybody can.

With an estimated $9B annual revenue stream, Prime has attracted roughly 90 million members and provides them with access to benefits that increase frequency of use — like free two-day shipping and free same-day deliveries.

According to Business Insider, Prime members today shop 2X more often and spend 2X more than non-Prime members — a figure that is only increasing further.

The HX learnings?

In a retail landscape where customers are overwhelmed by choices — where to shop, how to shop, which brands to shop — loyalty is more important than ever.

In our mission to put human experience at the heart of the innovation process, helping brands to create products and services that focus on “emotional” loyalty rather than “transactional” loyalty is both meaningful for the consumer and profitable for the company. It’s truly a win-win.

Simon Hall is a consultant at Brand Genetics, an insight and innovation agency specialising in human-centred insight and innovation. With a background in reinventing big businesses at pace, he has experience in creative problem solving, thought leadership and reframing human insight and has worked in strategy, leadership and change across business sectors.

Human-Centered Insight, Innovation and Trends from Brand Genetics www.brandgenetics.com

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