The loyalty industry and its clients are in the midst of a seismic shift.

Driving this change are both customers and employees, complex groups made up of multigenerational professionals and savvy shoppers plugged in to smart devices and social media with individual wants-and-needs. Understanding their responses to loyalty programs dictates how it is constructed from the ground-up.

Charting the curve

While some organizations have been ahead of the game in launching programs, in many cases it’s a reactionary response. With the availability to information and shortened product life cycles, participants have a transient passion about brands and companies. Their shifting needs affect how loyalty programs are delivered.

"The loyalty industry is built on appealing and catering to what is valued by individuals, as the industry shifts, companies must adjust to trends appropriately."

Today’s employees and patrons want to be rewarded frequently, if they don’t feel appreciated, chances are they will look for new employment or a new place to do business.

Rebranding rewards

Due to this shift, the gold standard has become a comprehensive, interactive program that engages employees or customers and rewards them with aspirational brand name merchandise—not promotional items. Whether it is Furla, Viking, Thule or Apple, these type of products act as an effective motivator, targeting varying tastes and interests.

For the organizations, the benefits are twofold. There is a trophy value that lasts for years and there is value to a company’s bottom-line, since the products often carry a higher perceived value than the actual cost.

In addition to the merchandise, people are searching for a company that will provide an invaluable and often customized experience as part of the recognition they receive.

Stronger connections

Give someone $500 and ask them in two years what they did with the money, and they’ll be hard pressed to tell you what they did. Give them a $500 watch with a high-equity brand name and as long as it is on their wrist, they’ll tell you how they won it, what they did and who the company was. This creates a very powerful connection.

The loyalty industry is built on appealing and catering to what is valued by individuals, as the industry shifts, companies must adjust to trends appropriately.