As important as it is to keep up with what’s new, there’s something even more critical to the future of loyalty: attitude. A willingness to embrace change and stay open to new ways to tackle the complex and ever-changing puzzle of customer engagement is essential for loyalty marketers and programs.

The comfort zone

An attitude of experimentation will increasingly drive loyalty as retailers, financial institutions, airlines and others adopt a test-and-learn approach. And success will belong to organizations that see loyalty not just as a program but, instead, as a strategy that serves the broader brand promise.

"No longer satisfied with off-the-shelf experiences, consumers demand an experience that’s customized..."

Among other things, that means doing a better job of incorporating the insights gained from loyalty across all areas of business, including pricing, merchandising and marketing. Plenty of great data is being gathered, but it’s not consistently being deployed to elevate the customer experience.

Prioritizing data

Maximizing the value of data will drive the ability to personalize experiences and rewards, which is another key component of the future of loyalty. No longer satisfied with off-the-shelf experiences, consumers demand an experience that’s customized, from one-to-one messaging to dynamic pricing tailored to an individual to one-of-a-kind ways to earn and redeem rewards.

Indeed, more important than typical rewards such as discounts and merchandise will be experiences such as cooking classes, guitar lessons, behind-the-scenes tours, after-hours parties and more. Even better—especially for the all-important millennial consumer—are exclusive experiences reserved for your best shoppers and most-loyal members. From surprise freebies at the register to gold-level-only private access to events, exclusives help ensure that your best customers feel the love.

Because love, in life and in loyalty, is a two-way street.