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Have your cake and eat it too

This is my third year of reviewing the joy and distress that marks another year of my existence on this planet #makingretailhappen #findingmyhum.

It is a significant year for me and you can find out about that at #project45 later in the month. Apparently 60 is the new 40 so I am effectively a spring chicken and should be having a millennial identity crisis (hence #findingmyhum).

Like many shoppers, I do understand the quid pro quo exchange of my data for reward and recognition. My loyalty programme involvement has fluctuated a little over the last 12 month as I have unsubscribed from those who have simply spammed me with irrelevant offers or meaningless content.

But in an age of personalisation, useable data, marketing automation and community/tribe membership, is it not too much to expect that “It’s your birthday” gets celebrated and recognised? it isn’t that hard at this wonderful time to reconnect with relevance in your shopper’s life.


  • Adidas | 20% off | Valid 14 days with a code

  • Auckland Seafood School | $20 gift voucher | No hooks or minimum spend

  • Fly Buys | Wish machine | Make a wish

Fly Buys Wish Machine - something different. Very cool.

  • True Food & Yoga | Emailing to say Happy Birthday | See you again soon - and not very pretty!

  • Lorna Jane | 20% off full priced merchandise | Valid for 1 month

Lorna Jane Birthday email - just lovely

  • New Balance | $10 off voucher | Valid for 12 months but something when wrong with the coding!

  • North Beach | $20 off next online order

  • Country Road | $20 voucher | Valid 1 month

  • Bendon | $25 off next purchase over $100

  • Cobb & Co. | Free main meal | When dining with a party of four. Valid 7 days side of birthday

  • Mighty Ape | $10 off next order | Valid for 2 weeks and min. spend $20 order

  • Witchery | $20 voucher | Valid 1 month

  • Qantas Frequent Flyer | Triple Qantas points on all Qantas flights | 1 week to make booking

  • OPSM | $100 off when you spend $300 or more | Valid 1 month

  • AA Smart Fuel | 10c off when you spend $40 or more at Caltex | Valid 1 month

What did I think?

I’ll be honest. One or two impressed me. I always like the no strings attached $20 from Country Road and Witchery. Did I buy anything? No. But I did look but nothing tickled my fancy.

I also really enjoyed the Fly Buys Wish Machine because it was different and involved participation and was about "me and my wishes." Only I do wish I had won something.

The rest were all a bit ho hum – but marks for trying.

Who was missing?

  • Z fuel – I use to get something from them but I gather that has been put on the back burner since the whole movement of loyalty programme kerfuffle of the last 12 months.

  • Air NZ – why oh why don’t you recognise me with anything? I would have thought that would have been an easy one for you to glue my engagement with the airline. Perhaps a sweet grabaseat deal that no-one else has access to?

  • Supermarkets – really. You even know what toilet paper brand I buy. Where is my love?

  • Gyms – isn’t now a wonderful time to re-engage and inspire me to achieving my health and wellness goals?

Do loyalty schemes work?

Loyalty programmes can work because they provide tangible reward and recognition to customers for their participation with the retailer. Essentially shoppers are shopping, shopping more often and/or spending more with the retailer thereby consolidating their behaviour to get a benefit. Quid pro quo.

This also should mean for the shopper that they are treated better for being an exclusive member of the retailer’s tribe. VIP events, special launches, exclusive benefits – opportunities that represent value to the shopper…like recognising their birthday (hum, hum).

How can the retailer use data to improve the shopper experience?

There is a load of obvious transactional benefits for the retailer which we all know; recency, frequency, value; but loyalty programmes should provide retailers with valuable insights and data about the people who “technically” should be most engaged with them.

Knowing what characteristics of cluster shoppers look like helps define your audience in a way that has behaviour and attitudinal characteristics (plus geo-socio). As a result, the marketing strategy should become a lot easier to delivery

Furthermore, the data can influence your merchandise strategy. What is important to your high value customers? What strike rate within different categories? Price-elasticity? You are only limited by the quality of your data, the ability to use it and clear objectives from the insights. Your clear drivers still should always come back to the unique positioning of your brand and “what problem am I solving for my shopper that no one else can the way I do.”

An added benefit is having a tribe where you can gain better insights about their behaviours.

Developing listening groups with customers are a terrific way of getting a handle not only on your performance but new opportunities to strengthen your offer.

What are the pitfalls of loyalty schemes. Are we getting fatigue?

Yes and no.

I love Air New Zealand Airpoints and I get an incredible return on my investment with the brands I choose to shop with that earn me rewards (despite their lack of recognition performance on my birthday). However there needs to be a genuine effort in reward and the offer. As you can see from the lack of inspiration from the birthday message I got, NZ retailers have some way to go.

Of course behaviour will still be driven by a number of choice attributes including access, experience, price, product and service. Shoppers are valuing different things now and we have seen the bar been raised by those doing a great job. The next phase of reward and recognition programmes need to step it up and be compelling, seamless and personalised in a way they have not to date, including rewards based on my personal tastes and preferences.

Better luck next year I hope.

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