Brand loyalty is the holy grail of retailers everywhere. It's never been an easy quest, but these days it's more urgent than ever.Fickle, fast-paced, Millennial customers have been keeping marketers on their toes for a while now and the Gen Z cohort, which is coming of age fast, will further redefine the baseline customer experience.
While it’s advisable to keep a watchful eye on the future, it seems there are still lessons to be learned about Millennial-style brand loyalty.
Millennials making a mark
Let’s consider some of the ways the world has changed over the past 15 years, with Millennials driving the trends.
Not so long ago, conventional wisdom advised against speaking to strangers, never mind accepting a lift from one – no matter how cold or rainy the walk home – because that was just asking for trouble. Today, we all happily hop into cars driven by strangers – aka Uber drivers – because it’s reliable, fast, in the moment transport.
Hotels around the world have taken a hit since it’s become acceptable (even preferable) to sleep in strangers’ houses, thanks to Airbnb, a big favourite of Millennial travellers.
The public library was once the sole source of reference for information – general, esoteric, academic or otherwise. Today, Wikipedia is the go-to source for, well, everything you want to know about anything or anyone in the world. Instantaneously.
And there was a time when people happily accepted complex loyalty and reward programs with obtuse rules and short expiration dates. Those days are gone.
Today, rewards need to be instant – or the closest thing to it.
A marketing transformation
Although the concept of instant rewards is not new – McDonald’s has been giving us toys with our Happy Meals for decades – there has never been a better time than now to get serious about offering your customers an instant rewards program.
Instant rewards and Millennials are made for each other. They would be, since we’re living in an age where people demand – and get – instant everything.
Looking for instant reward ideas? Read 6 Reasons why digital vouchers make great rewards.
Instant rewards enable you to reward Millennials with a gift (of their choice) when they take a specific action. And that could mean anything from giving an opinion on a specific topic, voting in a poll, offering suggestions, and responding to questions.
Rewarding in the moment
At a time when many companies are still using monolithic, tier-based, slow-building loyalty programs, aiming for spontaneous loyalty should be your first point of departure. It’s a more flexible, cost-effective and meaningful way to engage Millennials. Why?
1. Instant rewards will help you overcome the objections of low commitment customers
When you ask for something from your customers, be aware that for many of them, the cost is just too high because they don’t see any value in what they’re getting back. They think, “Why should I give you my email address if all you are going to do is spam me?” Fair question, if that’s what you intend to do.
Enter instant rewards with an actual value proposition, which might be a gift card, a voucher, or an invitation to a VIP event. The right reward can help you overcome the barrier to customer information.
Also, remember that almost everyone has experienced spam overload and it’s not pleasant. Not offering an instant reward of value is a surefire way to receive a blunt, “Nope. I’m not interested!”
And relationships aren’t built in a day – or in a single transaction. Sometimes trust is built up bit by bit. Instant rewards will help you deal with this segment of low commitment customers by rewarding them instantly for their actions. These customers will see more value in your immediate offer than they will in taking the time to fill out a form or giving you unconditional access to their information.
Interested in rewarding with gift cards? It’s easy to buy them online at GET Rewards.
2. Instant rewards reduce the friction that naturally exists between taking action and doing nothing, by leveraging instant gratification.
Often, a barrier to getting customers to take action is poorly timing the result. Receiving an instant reward means they don’t have to wait to see, and experience, the value you’re offering. Your intentions are clear.
Behavioural science shows us that the sooner we receive a reward for an action we perform, the more likely we are to repeat the action.
This is very much part of everyday life for Millennials. A ‘like’ on a picture posted ten minutes ago is more satisfying than receiving a ‘like’ from last week’s pic. Similarly, a gift received now means more than one arriving by snail mail seven days later, when a person has already forgotten why they’re getting it.
What’s the take out here? Customers who are rewarded immediately for an action are more likely to become engaged, and have positive feelings about your brand.
3. Instant rewards provide more value to you than they cost
In the wise words of Warren Buffet, “Price is what you pay, value is what you get”. As humans, we are now deep into what has been termed ‘the giving economy’, whereby companies that succeed are the ones that are seen to be giving back to the communities in which they operate.
Google essentially makes money by selling ads, but their brand love is earned by giving us Gmail, Analytics, Drive and a whole suite of apps for free. Thanks Google. And yes, we do love you.
When you choose instant rewards, you are choosing to give more value to your customer than you’re getting. In the short term, at least. Think of it as creating rewarding moments for your customers; ones they’ll remember, and even cherish. And when you get it right, customers will share their experience of your brand and refer their friends to you, too.
Best of all, instant rewards don’t have to be expensive; they must simply add value, provide information or solve a customer’s problem. What people enjoy, and even delight in, is being offered a little something special, like a free e-book. What we’re talking about here is the experience, the reciprocity, the generosity, and the gesture.
Certainly, the rules of the loyalty game have changed, and will continue to change. But as human beings, we will always seek to belong to a community that appreciates our belonging, and that rewards our involvement. Instantly.