Buy loyalty? Build loyalty?

By

Robert Holston

EY Global Consumer Industries Advisory Leader

Unlocking differentiated value for consumer-facing companies navigating an increasingly complex, connected digital world. Inclusive leader, high-performing team champion. Ironman triathlete. Foodie.

9 minute read 1 Sep 2017

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With increasing choice and convenience, shoppers are becoming more fickle. We explore four possible ways for retailers to take back control.

Shopping has changed, loyalty is dead. It’s a claim we hear a lot. But is it true?

It’s clear that shoppers around the world are increasingly fickle. Swamped with choices, offers and new ways to spend their money, they’re more willing than ever to drop their brands of choice in favor of something different.

Disruptive change is challenging retail to evolve to the point where only 5% of retailers think their customers remain loyal. But we all still have brands we love. Or just prefer, for whatever reason.

Almost all retailers (87%) believe a loyalty strategy is critical to their business success and are willing to find new ways to keep customers coming back or more. So how can retailers switch from buying to building loyalty?

We tackle four common questions retailers might be asking themselves – and offer some different ways of looking at those questions.

STRATEGIES

24%

The percentage of retailers who say retention is a top priority, despite the fact that 65% of respondents believe their loyal customers account for more sales and profit.

Question 1: Do you still need a loyalty program?

Free coffee next time? Penthouse upgrade? Loyalty programs are part of every-day life. But are they still relevant? Retailers spend billions of dollars on loyalty each year. The majority (80%) think they are critical to understanding customer needs and behaviors.

But 84% say their loyalty program is not effective, and just 27% feel their loyalty initiatives have a positive effect. Imagine if you redirected resource to more loyalty ideas that work.

So a better question is this. Does loyalty matter for your business and, if so, what strategy will secure the level of loyalty you want, from the customers you want, at a cost that works?

Answer that and you can design and run the loyalty program that’s right for your business, if you need one.

Question 2: How will you get closer to customers?

You must give shoppers what they want. But this is a revolution. Shoppers are behaving in ways that were unimaginable a few years ago.

Despite the pace of change, 28% of retailers tell us they know how to stay relevant. How are they finding clarity in the chaos?

A more rounded view of the customer is part of the answer, one based on a wider range of data sources. Mix what you know with insights from third parties and new doors open; 74% of retailers say this is a strategic priority.

Everyone wants to get closer to the consumer. So how will you get there first?

Question 3: Can you make tailored offers with live data?

In the Age of the Consumer, we all want to be in a marketing segment of one. A cookie-cutter approach to loyalty won’t work and could be counterproductive — 80% say a “one size fits all” loyalty approach damages profitability.

Shoppers want to buy or even co-create products, offers and experiences that reflect their individual desires. Reach that standard, and you can inspire loyalty without a promise of future reward.

That means capturing and using loyalty-relevant shopper data in real time, at the few key moments when you can truly influence the customer’s emotions. Today, 35% of retailers can collect live data. And 30% can use data to create personalized offers and experiences.

What would it take to close the gap between analysis and action in your business?

Question 4: How will retailers measure what matters to manage loyalty?

Agree your relevant goals, measure what matters and measure it accurately. You can’t rebuild loyalty if those foundations are weak. Best practice here is evolving fast.

Retailers spend billions of dollars on loyalty, but only 44% say they can track their loyalty ROI with accuracy. That lack of insight is a brake on performance.

Measurement must be better and broader. Loyalty program metrics are essential. But so are retention rates, targeted marketing campaign outcomes and others. Good analytics investments are game changing. They cut waste and allow you to reinvest savings in strategies that work.

How will better measurement help you rebuild loyal, profitable relationships?

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Summary

Good loyalty analytics investments are game changing. They cut waste and allow you to reinvest savings in strategies that work.

About this article

By

Robert Holston

EY Global Consumer Industries Advisory Leader

Unlocking differentiated value for consumer-facing companies navigating an increasingly complex, connected digital world. Inclusive leader, high-performing team champion. Ironman triathlete. Foodie.