In an age of growing complexity, the challenge for most brands lies in both creating simplicity and in truly listening to consumers. It is essential for marketers and designers of retail-based loyalty programs to make a commitment to understand and deliver what matters most to their customers, and without complicating the process. Yet many brands, based on our experience and interaction, struggle to do both—to listen and create simplicity.

Earning experience

Today, customer loyalty is about more than just earning and burning points. Increasingly, people are valuing relevant and meaningful experiences. And the brands that can engage customers with simplicity and authenticity can build the emotional connections to generate true advocacy.

"Fostering an authentic and emotional connection is the key. And it begins by listening to the voice of the customer."

Experiences are uniquely contextual and personal and being able to provide these consistently across channels is challenging. If brands are not able to follow through, they should not commit do doing such.

In touch, on demand

The advent of personalized mobile communications, enhanced digital online engagement and a near infinite level of product selections are allowing consumers to exert more control over personal shopping habits. Most people have enough information at their fingertips to find valuable promotions and offers on their own, which means that traditional and generic rewards no longer hold the same motivational power.

Fostering an authentic and emotional connection is the key. And it begins by listening to the voice of the customer, and then by responding with unique experiences that resonate. To prove that they are valued as individuals, this also means designing a retail loyalty program that offers a high level of personalization to every customer, every time.

The specific type of experiences can and will vary between brands and industries, just as they will vary between individual customers. But a retail loyalty program should leverage a singular kind of reciprocity that makes each customer feel special.