Loyalty programs have undergone a makeover in the past year, with brands launching revamped features in efforts to retain consumer allegiance. Currently, 61% of loyalty programs analyzed in L2’s recent report offer both experiential and monetary benefits, a 14% uptick from 2017.
This growth is largely driven by brands extending their range of experiential rewards, such as personalized services and early access to products. However, monetary benefits still hold value. Adoption of free shipping and discounts accelerated the most in the past year, increasing by 6 and 7 percentage points respectively.
Yet despite improved rewards diversification, brands still have a ways to go to meet consumer expectations for relevant rewards. Only a third of consumers believe the benefits they receive actually address their needs.
Both Nike and DSW found innovative ways to create rewards that resonate with members. Nike, which announced several loyalty program adjustments earlier this year, strays away from having a purely transactional relationship with consumers by designing loyalty benefits to match the interests and needs of athletes. As of this year, NikePlus members who purchase gear on the Nike app can earn credits from ClassPass, redeem rewards for free music on Apple, and access meditation services supplied by the app Headspace. Through symbiotic partnerships, the leading activewear brand creates a loyalty program that complements members’ lifestyles.
For a deeper look into consumer interests and shopping habits, DSW conducted a survey of over 4,000 of its rewards members and mapped its rewards back to the survey results. For instance, since a quarter of surveyed customers have owned shoes for more than 12 years, the brand now offers members points in exchange for shoe donations to Soles4Souls, with donations accepted at all locations. These leading brands prioritize the quality of rewards and demonstrate tactics that help loyalty programs respond to member needs.