Driving success through loyalty and partnerships

Loyalty and partnerships go hand in hand. The right partnerships can elevate your brand as well as engaging current members whilst attracting new ones. We spoke with David Black, our Head of Retail, Travel and Leisure, to help us to deep dive into this topic. Here’s what you should look for when it comes to partnerships and loyalty.


The role of partnerships  

When we think about loyalty, we think about the strategic actions we can take to help us better serve our customers and to operate better as an organisation.  

One of these strategic actions is partnerships. When thinking about how you operate as a brand, providing value to your customers should be at the top of the success checklist. Partnerships can play a huge part in consumers’ perception of a brand – both in how they perceive the effectiveness of their operation, and in how the brand makes the customers feel. These customers can benefit from the deals and offers that come about as part of this collaboration. Consequently, this stream of positive emotions is then able to translate into worthwhile metrics, from transactions, to sales, to referrals. Partnerships also offer exposure and awareness to new customers, a potential enhancement in reputation, and again an opportunity for increased revenue.  

If we’re to take a look at successful brands, we can identify patterns that tell us why collaborations are powerful.  

Let’s consider BMW and Louis Vuitton as an example of a successful partnership. In 2014, the luxury fashion brand partnered with the renowned car manufacturer to create a tailor-made set of luggage for their launch of the BMW i8. What was the purpose of this combination? By calling on the craftsmanship and heritage of Louis Vuitton, plus the sophistication and innovation of BMW, these brands together were able to create a luggage set perfectly tailored to this vehicle model, sparking interest across both customer groups.  

After all, the consumer cohort that buys a luxury car such as the BMW i8 would overlap with those looking to buy Louis Vuitton luggage. Shared brand values, like technological innovation and a drive for style, often mean both customer groups hold similar wants and desires. Thus, increasing the potential for the partnership to succeed. The product at hand, this luxury luggage set, feels relevant to both sets of consumers meaning the buzz around the collaboration is heightened.  

Bringing it into the Loyalty Space  

We’ve identified that partnerships can prove useful. But we want to think about the impact these can have on loyalty specifically, when done well.

  1. Customer Acquisition. Partnerships can help both parties to expand their audiences, through a new awareness and familiarity of the respective brands. It also gives these brands access to an already highly motivated customer base. 
  2. Customer Data. Partnerships give companies access to a bigger pool of customer data, allowing for them to tailor offerings to suit their customers and also provide a wider range of rewards to suit different wants.  
  3. Investment Opportunity. Having a brand partner with another who have an already existing programme, means that said brand can benefit from the already established programme. It also adds an element of flexibility and ease for customers to get rewarded for their loyalty to both brands.

These are just a few examples, of course. There are many other ways that loyalty partnerships empower brands to provide a new selection of offers. The potential impact? Rejuvenating your customer base and expanding the way in which you reward them for their loyalty.

The right partnerships can increase awareness of your brand. It gives way to a very special opportunity to attract new members who can even begin to develop brand affinity to your brand, following on from the original partnership. Not only this but it can draw attention to other brands also, upon seeing the success, making them want to partner with you too. We saw this within our own brand. Acquiring our first few partners only opened the door to more and more partnerships. Now, we’re proud to partner with a considerable number of brands from Amex and Barclays to BP, and Nectar, as well as Repsol and Cabify in Spain. These brands among others, just like us, strive to deliver the best possible value for their members.

A partnership that we’re proud of within our business is our one with Uber. Since its inception in Autumn 2022, millions of trips have been taken. Hundreds of thousands of members have linked their accounts and as a result have been able to collect across thousands of trips per day, enjoying the reward on offer. 

Another example of a loyalty-provoking partnership that we’ve seen in the industry is with Starbucks and Spotify for example, allowing for Starbucks App members to create in-store playlists for their local coffee spot. The partnership also allowed for members who purchased packages from Spotify to earn a higher amount of reward points at Starbucks, which means free beverages. 

Starbucks now has a huge opportunity at hand, a new pool of potential subscribers – that is, Spotify’s current circa 60 million users. Spotify similarly benefits from rewarding its customers with tasty drinks – generating brand love for both at once

This partnership also highlights a second useful component of increasing brand loyalty, and this is personalisation.

“Now you will be encouraged to stay and listen to music you love in a further customized experience,” says Ben Hordell, Marketing Communications Expert at digital advertising agency DXagency.

Starbucks already practice personalisation through app features such as a free drink on your birthday or in-store specifics (baristas knowing your name to write on the cup, for example). This partnership only solidifies the values and practices they already have, making it more likely to be successful.

Starbucks also has a subscription for partners. Their site states that all partners are eligible for a free premium subscription. Now, this not only benefits Starbucks and acts as an excellent reward for employee loyalty but it also creates awareness for those who may have not previously used the service.

Even after partners leave the company, there’s a chance that they’ll continue to use the service as a paying subscriber, due to awareness and also having used it for an amount of time. American magazine billboard reported that in 2020 during the pandemic 84% of people who added a new music subscription service… said they are likely to continue paying for it…” If we’re thinking about usage, we’re likely to see the same here, if a customer is satisfied with a service there’s more motivation to continue and that’s a plus for the brand, in this case Spotify. 

How to build relationships by partnerships, according to IAGL  

A solid partnership naturally diversifies the kinds of rewards available, given both parties aren’t offering identical services. Partnerships, therefore, can help to foster better customer relationships, making transactions feel a lot more worthwhile and valuable.

We spoke to our Head of Retail, Travel and Leisure, David Black. David helped to answer a few questions around the topic.

“We give our members different ways of collecting and redeeming Avios every day. Partnering with industry leading brands and companies enables us to create a valuable and convenient proposition for our members,” says David.

As we know, it’s great to imagine successful partnerships with various brands but approaching and pitching them, considering they may have their own brand goal and priorities, is a task in itself. We have to ask ourselves: How do you approach potential brands? David assures us that IAG Loyalty understands the needs of the customer base. “We search for brands that offer unique collection and redemption opportunities, that are attractive and fitting with our current proposition.” 

We search for brands that offer unique collection and redemption opportunities, that are attractive and fitting with our current proposition.” 

And how do we best maintain these relationships? 

“A mutual understanding and respect of each other's priorities and ambition. A good line of communication and a strong strategy help both companies to deliver excellent products and services to existing and potential customers,” says David. 

At IAG Loyalty we pride ourselves on maintaining this understanding of what they need and what we need. We constantly check that we’re fulfilling both of these.

And of course, it’s vital that we find ways to measure the results, in order to analyse and make improvements periodically. As David says “We set ourselves goals which push us year on year to achieve more and unlock great benefits for our members. We continuously measure ourselves against our KPIs and we constantly seek feedback from our members on how we can grow our offer and make rewardingPartnerships. 

This has allowed us to grow our offer and make rewarding Partnerships, achieving success within every avenue. We understand the importance of partnerships, so all of these steps are important in helping us to reach our long-term goals and make the most of these ever so valuable relationships. 

The next steps  

As we’ve read, partnerships are invaluable for a number of reasons. Done correctly, you’re sure to see results. If you can define your purpose, set clear milestones, and work towards them, then you’re on the right path. Excitement and engagement are key, as mentioned in one of our earlier articles on Customer Loyalty. For more information on the topic, and further insight on driving success through partnerships contact us here. 


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