Loyalty is not incentives

4th April 2022

Loyalty is a funny old business. We've recently implemented Salesforce Loyalty Cloud in some serious names in UK retail. The process of doing these got me thinking.

First up, let's consider brands where you consider yourself loyal, but they do nothing to incentivise this. They do it through something superior that you value. You might be an Apple fan because you believe their products are high quality, innovative or just well designed. I count myself in that group. Apple have never given me a loyalty incentive or as much as a free banana.

Next we have Virgin Atlantic. I like flying with them, it's a superior experience. They also have a loyalty scheme that works pretty well and I build up points using credit card spend. The loyalty programme doesn't keep me returning, their service does. The loyalty is a good bonus though, that likely means I use them more, or consider them when I travel.

Then, we have markets where loyalty incentives do make a difference. Hotels, for example. I tend to stay in Marriotts. They have a lot of them and they're normally close by wherever I go. This started with extended stays while I was helping Gatwick Airport with their project. I started to build up some points and status with them, and that in itself helped push me onwards to consider them first. That being said if they aren't close to where I need them (like Stansted airport) then I won't inconvenience myself. So here, a loyalty scheme does work, but I don't think Mariott's are in essence much better than the Hilton chain.

My message here is that brands need to be careful. Loyalty is not created through incentives in all markets, and sometimes isn't needed if the product or service is already superior enough.

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