As the needs, desires, and habits of consumers have evolved, so has the loyalty and rewards industry. Offering rewards and points is no longer simply a case of keeping your current customers happy, it’s now a prime opportunity for companies to mark themselves out from the competition by offering attractive, personalized rewards packages. In an age where there are so many loyalty programs to choose from, it’s imperative that a business gets to know what a consumer really wants.

Know your customer

“A lot of loyalty programs have now turned into data collection programs too,” explains the Founder of Rewards Canada, Patrick Sojka. “The program collects that data on their users and then analyzes it in a way that helps them provide a more personalized experience to their members.”

By studying the consumer habits of each member, loyalty programs can create exclusive earning schemes for each individual, which means that you’re unlikely to ever get an offer that has no relevance to you and how you do your shopping. “We’re seeing targeted offers on the rewards side too,” said Sojka. “After you’ve redeemed a few times with a loyalty program, they’ll see what you like and start targeting you with similar offers in the future. It makes redeeming easier and more convenient.”

So does this personalized touch really benefit you, the consumer? “It’s definitely benefitting the customer because it means that the average member can earn more from loyalty points,” says Sojka. “The big rewards programs have the power to really utilize data to help their members out.”

Diversified interaction

The way that businesses interact with their customers has changed over the past five years, and that is true for loyalty programs, too. Until recently, loyalty programs would hope that the points they offered customers at the point of transaction would be sufficient to make that customer come back to them more frequently.

“What we’re seeing now, enabled by technology and data, is that engaging with your consumer across all touch points, not just at the check-out line, is a great way for loyalty programs to gain an advantage over their competition,” says David Klein, the Vice President of Marketing & Innovation at AIMIA/Aeroplan. 

“For instance, you can engage with customers when they’re shopping online and reward them after the transaction when they tell their friends about their purchases.”

By looking beyond the traditional method of giving points and focusing on the full spectrum of the purchase cycle, loyalty programs are able to offer more personalized benefits to the modern consumer. “There will always be a role for the transaction-based reward, but consumers expectations are changing and loyalty programs are addressing that.”

Maximize your benefits

Although loyalty programs are working hard to better their competition and offer the best rewards possible, it’s still important to make sure you choose a program that best suits your specific needs. Otherwise, you could be missing out on valuable points.

“Look for the one or two programs that will give you the most benefits based on your shopping patterns and focus on these, as opposed to spreading out too widely,” says Klein.  “The process of finding out which program is right for you is easier than it’s ever been because there’s so much information available online.”

 Joe Rosengarten