In a world full of the same, how can loyalty help differentiate brands?
In a world of choice overload, where so many brands are talking to consumers all at once, it can be a tricky task to get attention from customers – and to position yourself as valuable and different. We’ll be using the lens of loyalty to advise on how brands can best set themselves apart.
It’s all… the same
Looking at brands face on in 2023, you may feel like you’re playing a game of spot the difference. The subtle simplification of logo fonts, the removal of colour, and the general stripped back, uniform look seems to be quite the trend that many brands have adopted.
Various curious thinkers have taken to the internet to compare the look of these brands. Writer David Perell, tweeted this image in July 2022 comparing how 8 world famous brands had changed their logos in recents years to adopt a look that feels more ‘minimal’. Attached to this image were the words ‘The homogenisation of tech logos’. We can thank accessibility of design software plus the growing interconnectedness of the world, and of course human input for this shift.
Moving away from design solely, in business at large, there are countless instances where it feels as though a number of brands are doing the same thing. This, of course, is not a new phenomenon and has always existed in the world of business (basic economics calls this ‘competition’).
So, how does this relate to loyalty?
In a world where the products we seek can very much feel the ‘same’, and a number of companies seem to be providing similar services, we have an important question to ask ourselves.
How can loyalty programmes help brands to differentiate themselves?
A successful loyalty programme gives brands the opportunity to stand out, and to forge meaningful relationships with their customers. First things first however, the actual product must meet customer needs and create value.
There’s a difference between customers casually comparing various providers based on price and convenience vs actually committing to your brand. If you can meet the necessary criteria though, (strong product + effective loyalty programme) you can easily ensure the latter.
A big part of what we’re speaking about comes down to value. It’s something we talk about a lot here at IAG Loyalty.
We caught up with some of our loyalty pioneers to dig deeper into how brands can create value, and in turn, a loyal customer base.
Value. Catered to you.
Value means anticipating your customers’ needs. For the customers who interact with your brand again and again, there’s nothing more valuable than understanding their needs and being able to answer them. According to Google Consumer Insights 89% of successful businesses say anticipating customer needs and providing assistive experiences along the customer journey are critical to growth.
Value means making experiences personal for your customers. And as a result, differentiating your business to allow for more choice. It’s understanding the need for deals that appeal to your various different demographics. For instance, it’s allowing customers who collect Nectar points to convert them to Avios and vice versa, giving customers more outlets to redeem Avios and ensuring they always have autonomy.
Put simply, value is having rewards that people are excited about, that are straightforward to earn and that keep them engaged with your loyalty programme.
Setting yourself apart
As we’ve mentioned in our writing on various occasions, achieving emotional loyalty is an important goal. It’s a priceless asset and will help you to use existing strengths to differentiate yourself in your market.
By constantly improving and learning how to be meaningful to members, for example becoming an integral part of their lives, you put yourself in a position to reap the benefits of customers coming back again and again. All of this, because of how they feel about you as a brand.
There are brands that are amazing at investing in the latest tech and use that to provide a quality user experience for their customers. As we mentioned, having a strong product is important and goes hand in hand with loyalty.
In a recent podcast episode of ‘Let’s Talk Loyalty’, Rob McDonald (Chief Commercial Officer) and Silvia Espinosa, (Chief Customer Officer) shared some examples of brands delivering results through loyalty.
Rob named Hotels.com as one of his favourite loyalty programmes for their best practice all round, providing great value (10 nights, get one night free), and ease of use. Rob highlights the digital experience and mentions how Hotels.com hits ‘all the possible marks’ for him.
For Silvia, it’s Spanish Insurance company Mutua Madrileña. Whilst they don’t use the traditional method of rewarding points for purchase, the brand has managed to maintain an impressive connection with customers, creating a strong sense of ‘emotional loyalty’. Silvia describes their offering as ‘simple, digital and fair’. Customers value perks such as discounts that increase with tenure. But importantly, through consistently delivering high levels of customer experience, members feel like they’re a part of a club and this connection has translated to ongoing loyalty for the brand.
Loyalty as a tool
The world isn’t short of innovation. As a brand you can be similar to your competitors; how you make your consumers feel though, can’t be replicated. The job of loyalty is to leverage what you already have, so by investing in the growing of a solid loyalty programme, you can not only set your brand apart but also drive overall brand growth. Data from Insider Intelligence states that 78% of US consumers say good loyalty programs influence their purchase decisions or make them more likely to do business with a brand. A report from Harvard Business Review on the effectiveness of rewards also says that over time loyal customers even become ‘business builders... buying more, paying premium prices, and bringing in new customers through referrals.’
From a financial perspective, loyalty programmes can also help to reduce business costs. It’s an asset light way of driving customer retention, while differentiating, in comparison to buying new stock or investing in a physical product. Ultimately, if you can make a programme work for your brand, you become unstoppable.
For more information on how we set ourselves apart read our previous article here. If you’d like to speak to us directly about how your brand can utilise the power of loyalty programmes in this ever-changing world, please do not hesitate to contact us here today.
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