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feb 07

LO QUE SIGNIFICA SER LEAL A UNA MARCA

SINOPSIS

Existe una desconexión entre la expectativa de los clientes de cómo su lealtad debe ser reconocida y la realidad de lo que reciben. Ana María Chiuzan, experta en rogramas de lealtad en Inglaterra, comenta en su artículo publicado en el sitio de The Logic Group, empresa de planes de lealtad y sistemas de pago, sobre las áreas de oportunidad en muchos de los supuestos planes de lealtad que existen.

 

What it means to be loyal

Most people would agree that loyalty is a good thing; whether in terms of inter-personal relationships, or in the choices we make about who we do business with. However recent debate surrounding the usefulness and validity of loyalty programmes have left many questioning the true purpose of rewarding loyalty. With approximately 85% of households in the UK owning at least one loyalty card (TNS Market Research) yet over half forgetting to redeem our rewards, perhaps one factor fuelling the debate is a disconnection between customers’ expectation of how their loyalty should be recognised and the reality of what they receive. Similarly it’s important for retailers to realise that loyalty schemes are a long term platform on which to grow a customer base and repay loyalty by providing rewards, redeemable both in and out of store, that will be valued by the individual.

Many businesses have forgotten the ultimate reason for implementing reward programmes. Equally, for consumers, the initial draw of joining a loyalty scheme may quickly become a distant memory. If used correctly, it’s very easy for customers to make savings and reap rewards. However, many retailers have jumped on the loyalty programme band wagon and issued loyalty cards without considering how the scheme will be used to its full advantage. As a result today’s consumers feel overwhelmed by loyalty cards and the idiosyncrasies of the points systems of each.

One by-product of the saturated loyalty market is that many of us now feel happier when simply winning rewards, as opposed to the satisfaction to be gained by earning them (‘We will get fooled again by loyalty cards’, The Times, 8th January 2010). Nonetheless, loyalty rewards can have the same affect if they are made relevant and personalised to the individual consumer. To achieve this most loyalty schemes need to be re-vamped, as some businesses have simply launched loyalty cards with a ‘that will do the job’ mentality. A loyalty programme is not just a tactical solution, rather a long term strategy with building frequency and driving customer loyalty and satisfaction at its heart. Loyalty programmes aren’t just about quick wins such as sales and discounts; they enable retailers to manage customers and their profitability, while rewarding them with incentivised offers that will ultimately grow the customer base.

As a result of the recent economic lapse and consumers subsequently becoming more cautious about spending, many retailers, specifically grocery stores, entered into an aggressive price war. More recently, reports of bumper Christmas sales for those retailers that didn’t have loyalty schemes, are potentially indicative of the appeal of low prices and special deals. Conversely, stores that did implement loyalty schemes also saw sales rise while simultaneously benefitting from the information supplied by specific purchase behaviour (i.e. who likes cranberry sauce and would appreciate an extra jar). Loyalty schemes are successful in improving and maintaining customer satisfaction, on the other hand, sales are about attracting customers on a short term basis; once items of particular preference are no longer under offer, customers are likely to shop elsewhere as they have no feeling of loyalty towards the store. A downside to the sales-focussed approach that retailers will undoubtedly feel the impact of long-term.

Retailers without loyalty schemes in place have to rely upon what amounts to a straw poll before going with the majority vote, as was the approach evidenced in a recent advertising campaign by Asda. This tactic is unreliable and only benefits the customer if they belong to that majority group. If retailers dependent on sales believe this is the best way to drive profitability, they will lose customers neglected by the process and in turn find it difficult to attract new ones as many are members of loyalty schemes (although some schemes require a re-vamp, loyalty does still exist for many consumers).

The other end of the loyalty card debate focuses on the following question: why loyalty members benefit while other customers do not? Retailers with successful loyalty programmes are a result of access to customer data. Many customers may be loyal to a brand but prefer not to share their personal details, and as a result they are ostensibly never rewarded. Others may argue that we are held to ransom, having to supply all of our data and shopping habits in order to receive a reward. However, without this data, there is no way of knowing who the most loyal customers are, and how many visits a customer will make. Leading supermarkets which did report good sales figures over the Christmas period are economy brands, such as Asda and Morrisons, who benefitted from the downturn and it’s impact on shopping habits, the larger supermarkets with loyalty schemes, such as Tesco and Sainsbury’s, in place have sustained growth over many years and some levelling of the playing field has to be expected. Surveys to determine which products to discount only represent the majority view. Therefore when there are discounted products, it is only useful to you if you were part of the majority. Although recent economic pressures have led to price dominating over ensuring customers feel valued, customers will feel no loyalty and continue their search for new places to get more for their money elsewhere.

The customer experience is key. So too therefore are the relevancy of rewards and the most successful loyalty programmes are those that combine relevancy with immediacy. What really matters to customers, in the context of loyalty programmes, are the actual rewards: they need to have high-perceived value, for example a personalised treat or something that can be redeemed. It’s ultimately down to the retailer to decide upon an award redemption strategy, whether it’s something to use in or out of store (theme park passes, theatre tickets). By ensuring the rewards are achievable and relevant, however the customer experience will be enhanced and the loyalty scheme will seem both relevant and useful to the customer.

Creating a loyal customer base is critical to any organisation that relies upon repeat business – and it’s hard to think of many that don’t. Indeed there are two main areas of focus that all marketing activities are based on, one is in attracting new customers and the second is ensuring that existing customers become a source of recurring revenue. Retailers need to adopt a smarter approach to loyalty and ensure that rewards are relevant and immediate (and not unobtainable) – it is not about handing out loyalty points that take too long to transform into rewards and whose value customers don’t clearly understand. However the opportunity is there for retailers to ensure a carefully thought out and implemented loyalty scheme reaps the benefits in building a loyal customer base. Not only will this allow the retailer to boost sales figures, but will also create a more targeted and personalised service, something which all customers appreciate.

 

Artículo escrito por Ana María Chiuzan. Fuente: http://www.the-logic-group.com

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