Loyalty and the Evolving Brand Mindset

BY JASON ROCKMAN, PRESIDENT OF DEFINITION 6

As the concept of a cookie-less world continues to take shape and the rise of consumer tracking prevention is upon us, the utilization of first-party data is more important than ever. For brands, this presents an opportunity to get serious—or, hopefully, more serious—about what measures they can take to improve the relationship between brand and consumer. This line of thinking often evolves into how loyalty or loyalty programs can help brands to better understand their consumers, better engage with their consumers, and provide insights required to acquire new customers in a cost-efficient manner. 

For brands working to define and design a loyalty program, it is critical to understand the core objective, what success looks like, and the environment that we are living in. In terms of an objective, most brands are looking for an opportunity to further differentiate themselves through their offering, achieve a higher degree of engagement with new and existing customers and, ultimately, track the performance of their efforts back to an increase in revenue.   

These objectives, and many more, link to how success is defined. The key to defining and eventually reporting on the level of success is through the activation of a disciplined approach, one that ensures that all involved parties are aware of how success is being measured, and that the appropriate processes and procedures (and technology) are in place to enable consistent tracking and reporting.  

We must also take into consideration the shifting environment. Over the past several years we’ve seen an acceleration in consumer preference for digital channels and an appropriate degree of personalization where applicable. We’ve also seen brands that have excelled during this period and those that have been focused on catching up by way of increasing investments against all things digital, taking a harder look at the consumer data they have and the required level of effort to do more with that data to forge more meaningful relationships with their existing consumers, regardless of their level of engagement. We cannot underestimate the importance of maintaining engagement with consumers. The reality is that in today’s world, it is much easier for companies to establish a brand—as seen through the proliferation of direct-to-consumer brands that are continuing to fill our social feeds and news sites. While we live in a more cluttered world with many more brands competing for our attention, it is important to note that I don’t believe consumers are less loyal than they used to be, they just have more options; and it is far easier to engage with a brand, new or old, than it has been in the past.  

Through the development of any loyalty program, we must consider the many variations, formats, and common elements of a program, because when we are talking about loyalty, we are talking about more than earning points and rewards. We are talking about the overall experience that we are creating to ensure our customers have a natural affinity for who we are and for the quality of service or product that we provide. While defining the program goal, review technology, earnings and rewards, and engagement to ensure a comprehensive view. When exploring technology, we are looking for existing capabilities and auditing roadmaps to understand current initiatives, planned investments, and alignment with the program being designed.  

With that in mind, the opportunity to create an ever-growing base of loyal customers truly relies on a brand’s ability to think broadly in terms of the overall experience they are providing:  how they are evaluating each step and touchpoint in that experience, gaining an understanding of where improvements are needed, as well acknowledging the emotional, rational, and financial impact of optimizing the overall experience.  This is where our expertise in predictive analytics comes into play… But that’s a story for another day. 

Jason Rockman is the President at customer experience agency, DEFINITION 6. He brings 20 years of agency experience with a strong emphasis on consumer brands like Home Depot, Coca-Cola, AMC Theatres, and MillerCoors. Jason is a classically-trained ad exec who cut his teeth at top tier agencies, including The Richards Group, DDB Worldwide, and Ogilvy & Mather. He is well-versed in communicating brand messages across all channels to drive customer engagement and impactful results for his clients.