L​oyalty efforts are the key to weathering economic uncertainty

L​oyalty efforts are the key to weathering economic uncertainty
Connecting with and retaining customers as they compete for both share of mind and share of wallet remains a challenge in tumultuous times. The combination of a lingering pandemic, residual supply chain issues, labor shortages, record-high inflation, and increasing economic uncertainty is new territory for both businesses and consumers, making those connections more tenuous and fragile than ever.

The good news is that your loyalty efforts, whether within the confines of a program or not, are uniquely positioned to benefit both your business and consumers. Meeting your customers where they are, even in trying times, can lead to sustained and even elevated business—just look at Starbucks beating sales estimates, driven in large part by their loyalty efforts. As your brand seeks to navigate these challenges in a way that benefits both consumers and your bottom line, consider these three outcomes of loyalty that make it a go-to for brands as they look to retain customers and deepen their relationships in the process, regardless of financial transactions.

Comfort is key in tumultuous times

The data collected within the context of your loyalty efforts allows your brand to engage with customers in more personalized and relevant ways, bringing comfort amidst the uncertainty of our current reality. Consumers need brands to show up for them in very human ways, connecting authentically. In times of struggle, people gravitate back to the basics. Understanding their needs and wants through their data allows you to bring comfort through reliability and consistency in an effort to deliver the promotions, upgrades, or special deals that hold value for consumers as individuals.

Providing comfort with a consistent presence can come from a simple promotional offer for a hotel property, plane, or rental fleet that is not fully booked, discounts for lower volume days, or even just a reminder of the extra benefits that come with their status—accompanied with encouragement to enjoy those perks. This taps into consumers’ desire to keep things as close to “normal” as possible even as they struggle through uncertainty.

Offering greater utility for consistent experiences

Members want to leverage their loyalty benefits with brands to continue doing things they might otherwise cut back on with tightening purse-strings. Increasing the options they have to earn and burn with your program not only shows empathy for consumers, but is also a winning proposition for your business as your program points bank can insulate you in times when transacting may be reduced, as we saw during the height of the pandemic.

Remind members how they can get more with less from your brand. An example is offering the option to combine points and dollars for a trip that they may not otherwise be able to afford. Also, adding more upgrade opportunities can help provide a more luxurious experience for the same investment. Basics like transportation and meals are also great options for special offers and promotions in times of economic uncertainty, as they allow consumers to utilize program rewards to fund more basic needs. Connecting with your members in ways like this solidifies the value your brand brings to their lives.

Lean into customer data to provide increased convenience

In these times, life can feel overwhelming, so consumers crave increased convenience in their interactions with brands. It all comes down to simplifying to make life a little easier when the world around us feels complex.

Use your partnerships to add convenience in unexpected ways to surprise and delight members, helping them gain value from your program without necessarily needing to transact at a typical pace. Consider expanding self-service options or concierge services to streamline the customer experience and take convenience to the next level.

Use this time as an opportunity to lean even further into your data for insights that help deliver the right value at the right time—recognizing members when they need it. For example, the convenience of receiving an offer on Friday afternoon from a brand you usually frequent on Saturday mornings can work to engender greater loyalty and foster brand love.

Leveraging loyalty as an opportunity

Meeting members where they are is the model for success—benefitting both the customer and the brand. Having a loyalty effort that goes beyond points and programs, is rooted in a strategy-first foundation, and is elevated by a deep analytics framework to provide insight and “next best” decisioning will allow your brand the agility to show up for consumers in all the ways they want. Reminding members of the value of your brand in their lives will bolster further engagement and foster deeper emotional loyalty as we all weather this storm

ICF’s global marketing services agency focuses on helping your organization find opportunity in disruption.
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Meet the author
  1. Tom Madden, Managing Partner, Loyalty and CRM

    Tom has more than 25 years of experience helping brands achieve their loyalty marketing and CRM goals View bio

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