True loyalty is not a points program or a rewards card. These are tactics that bring brands and customers closer together. But genuine loyalty is an outcome. It’s a goal that can only be achieved by carefully nurturing every relationship you have.
That’s why the true objective of any marketer is: to establish an emotional connection between a brand and its customers. This builds long-lasting relationships that keep the customers engaged and coming back again and again.
Achieving this level of connectedness, this emotional loyalty, isn’t easy though. It requires a complex and strategic orchestration of activities. And it takes creativity.
Who is getting it right?
Our client Bakers Delight is an exemplary illustration of loyalty done right. Bakers Delight is a family-owned company that got its start in Victoria in the 1980s. Now, it’s franchised to more than 500 stores across Australia and New Zealand. In March, the company implemented a rewards program to reward its loyal customers.
The solution had to be omnichannel, meaning the customers of Bakers Delight would have a connected experience from online to in-store. Working closely with the Cheetah team, the Dough Getters program was created, with the new loyalty program offering customers rewards and benefits far beyond the simple stamp card.
Now what Bakers Delight has done isn’t necessarily revolutionary, but its execution was just really creative and super cool. The brand has little crumbs in its app. It says fun things like, “You’re on a roll” when you achieve certain goals or, “You don’t just deserve butter, you deserve the best.” I love it. It’s great. It’s those little bits of gold spread throughout that make such an impact.
One month after the Dough Getters pilot launched, the program had more than 200,000 sign-ups, putting it 30 percent ahead of target. Bakers Delight also saw its members, aka ‘Dough Getters,’ spending an average of 25 percent more per transaction.
Even better, customers are loving the new program. The sign-up process is simple and easy to join, and customers are happy to be getting rewarded. For Bakers Delight, partnering with Cheetah enabled it to transition to a strategy that emphasised a delightful customer experience, customer loyalty, and insights, enabling it to engage customers throughout their lifecycle.
Loyalty beyond ‘transactions’ to ‘interactions’
During COVID, there were a lot of brands who looked at what they were doing and decided they needed to do it in a different way, but also a better way. It became a question of, “How do we stop forcing transactions on our customers?” They didn’t want to be that brand anymore. In the middle of the global pandemic, it especially didn’t feel right, saying, “Hey, you might have lost your job, but continue buying so you can keep your loyalty.”
The Vans family is another perfect example of this concept, which moves away from transactions to interactions. Vans wanted to reward its customers for engagement. It was about connecting their social accounts, referring friends, and sharing photos with the community to name a few. For each interaction, Vans then rewards its customers with points that can be used to redeem loyalty rewards, ranging anywhere from skateboard stickers to a 24-karat gold skateboard ramp.
The beauty of this engagement is that it gives Vans the ability to profile its audience, learning things about them to then leverage for brand partnerships. For example, say Vans’ customers have a great affinity for music; well, that’s a great opportunity for the company to partner with Beats. Or if Vans finds out its customers like pets, it could release some dog stickers or collars. This kind of information transcends the loyalty program. We’re starting to see a big movement where brands are spending more and trying harder to connect with their consumers in new and better ways.
Loyalty no longer an ‘afterthought’ as marketers get back to basics
As marketers, our day job of staying on top of execution is challenging enough. Now we have to do that plus stay on top of data and regulation, challenges and privacy. It’s a lot. And marketers are left wondering how to connect with customers in a cookie-less era.
Marketers love cookies. Brands have been using them for years to track website visitors, improve the user experience and collect data to efficiently target the right ads to the right audiences. Cookies also help to figure out where customers are looking online when they’re not on our websites.
But as we’ve all seen, the death of the third-party cookie is upon us with Google announcing its eradication in 2023. Google is changing its privacy laws. Apple is too.
So, if third-party advertising is driving the most attribution to your marketing efforts, you have to find a new way to connect with the end consumer. And that’s where loyalty comes in – perhaps the most important tool for marketers in this new era of privacy.
Loyalty is key to driving that connection. If you can package up a great value proposition, whether it be a membership, subscription or punchcard program, customers will give you their information. Like Paula says, “Loyalty has to be increasingly respected and invested in to compensate for the loss of third-party cookies.”
In fact, our 2022 Digital Consumer Trends Index revealed that 50 percent of consumers in Australia are comfortable sharing data about themselves for better service. And 52% are willing to trade personal and preference data to feel part of a brand’s community.
With all these new privacy changes, it’s time for marketers to get back to the basics of marketing. Build a value proposition, find a reason for people to engage, and then acquire them. Create your own customer database that you can gain insights from. It’s Marketing 101. But it’s almost so simple and so basic, that we lose sight of the fundamentals.
I think this new era of privacy and the demise of the cookie is great. Personally, I’m happy to see it. It’s getting people thinking; they’re coming up with better, more meaningful and more impactful ways of building long-lasting relationships with customers.
Billy Loizou is the vice president, go to market APAC at Cheetah Digital.