3 Trends for Loyalty Marketers to Be Aware OfApril 18, 2012 By Bob Fetter
Engagement is a buzzword of late, with every marketing firm and brand waking up to the notion that — stop the presses — engaging with and rewarding customers in relevant, timely ways generates positive word-of-mouth and increases sales. For one segment of the population, however, engagement strategies have always been at the center of the sales pipeline. I'm speaking of course about loyalty marketers. You know, the industry based on a system of engagement and rewards that consistently helps retain customers and drive predictable sales. These marketers are the founding fathers and mothers of systematic, optimized engagement.
Every year loyalty program managers and chief marketing officers gather to swap strategies, success stories and network at the Loyalty Expo. A marquee event for hundreds of people whose life's work is to find ways to elicit the love and support of consumers, the Loyalty Expo festivities are the spot for the original engagement and loyalty gangsters. So what was everyone talking about this year?
I heard it in the halls, on panels and in my informal conversations. I saw it in the literature spread throughout the conference. It's clear to me that the loyalty industry is doubling down on something it practically invented: gamification. For years marketers in the loyalty space have leveraged a system of points to reward and retain customers in a way that drives sales. It's always been a game that retailers and consumers play. So what made the buzz on gamification this year any different (except for the use of the buzzword)? Consumers and their adoption of games! While the principles of gamification remain the same, the playing field has shifted dramatically.
First and foremost, consumer behaviors are changing. It can be argued that gaming has always existed in the consumer psyche, as evidenced by the age-old art of haggling, whereby a consumer works an angle for a discount or, conversely, a retailer uses techniques of chance to conduct a sale. Think for a moment about how much consumer behavior has changed just in the past couple of years. People are spending an inordinate amount of time building farms on Facebook, checking in to Foursquare for badges, hunting down "deals of the day" and exchanging virtual credits for real or imagined goods. In the casual gaming industry, business is booming in all directions. Loyalty marketers, more than any other segment of the industry are paying close attention.