The Changing World of Consumer Loyalty

By Quentin Paquot, CEO of Qualifio

With new privacy regulations being introduced and increased awareness around data protection, customers are more mindful now of how their data is being used than ever before. As a cookieless world approaches, brands are being pushed to adapt to a more privacy-driven web, giving end-users better control over their data.

Both consumers and businesses are growing increasingly concerned about the alternatives to third-party cookies. For many brands, loyalty programmes can be a successful solution to collect first- and zero-party data, removing the reliance on cookies.

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Interaction in a New World

The coronavirus pandemic had an enormous impact on how consumers behave and engage with brands across the globe. Unable to engage face-to-face, all brand interactions became digital. And with such convenience introduced to consumers during this period, the online-first approach seems to be here to stay. As consumers continue to maximise the benefits of the digital world, the future of consumption is going to be hybrid as we move towards a new normal.

When lockdown began, many marketing teams were faced with outdated and legacy marketing tools or processes that limited their ability to rapidly adapt to changing consumer behaviours. Two years later, brands have evolved. Many have turned to leveraging interactive content to create a more engaging experience for users while opening up a plethora of opportunities for brands when it comes to their wider marketing efforts.

Interactive content transforms what could be seen as simple static information, into something that engages consumers and builds trust in brands through the process of gamification. By utilising tools such as polls, quizzes and surveys, brands can introduce gamification to participants who sign up, offering potential prizes in what becomes a highly user-friendly experience. Importantly, while brands are providing this engaging experience, they are also able to collect consented zero-party data.

The Role of Loyalty

According to research, 87% of customers want to have loyalty programs, but, loyalty today is no longer what it used to be. While sales and transactions are important, modern brands must also develop loyalty through brand engagement and content consumption, building bonds with consumers even before they have become a purchasing customer.

Loyalty programmes allow brands to establish a more personalised experience and communication with customers because they are more willing to share data with brands in exchange. What’s more, loyal customers will generally think higher of a brand and its products or services, increasing the likelihood of them repeatedly buying from that brand. Therefore, building and enriching the relationship that consumers have with a brand by understanding what their expectations are is crucial.

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Developing Long-Term Relationships

One key step that brands are beginning to take is to start including loyalty programmes in first- and zero-party data collection strategies. This can be done through the use of interactive marketing campaigns.

The most effective type of customer loyalty programmes are those that are not based solely on purchases. Instead, they are based on all the interactions a consumer has with a brand, throughout their journey.

This type of programme speaks to a wider audience base, not just paying customers. It should be designed to not only engage communities but reward that engagement, earn their trust and create a bond. From here, brands can retain and entertain. Eventually, this will convert into loyal customers who spend more time with the brand, and hopefully make more purchases over time.

However, the interactivity involved must have clear and simple rules and well-segmented and relevant levels that are easy to achieve, allowing for quick and easy ways of earning rewards. Otherwise, if they are too difficult, consumers are less likely to continue participating. Furthermore, a wide variety of rewards will always entice customers to want to engage with the interactive part of a loyalty programme.

Overall, the loyalty programmes that work are the ones that take customers into account and not just their wallets. From here, customers can quickly develop long-term relationships with brands because they can see the value in being a return customer that is continually rewarded.

By combining interactive content – which creates immediate engagement with a brand – with a loyalty programme that rewards consumers before they have become a purchasing customer, organisations can very quickly see a significant return on investment in their marketing efforts.

Keeping in Tune With the Consumer

Consumer loyalty has changed. The pandemic forced brands to improve their marketing efforts. They had to make them more fun, engaging and relevant in a digital-first world. Interactive content proved to be the key. However, by combining this marketing strategy with first- and zero-party data collection, and highly rewarding loyalty programmes, many brands have reaped huge rewards.

As marketing strategies continue to evolve, it is important that brands recognise the need to continue adapting to consumer behaviour, appealing to them in the most engaging and effective ways, and offering them rewards that other brands cannot.

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