Perks, rewards and loyalty programs are becoming increasingly popular these days. It seems like they’re everywhere – coffee shops, restaurants, clothing stores, airports, colleges, theme parks, movie theaters, charities, employers etc.
It’s holiday shopping season. People have abandoned their families to shop on Thanksgiving, then stood outside in the wee hours of the morning on Black Friday waiting for doors to open.
They’ve dutifully ignored work (on occasion) to browse online retailers. They’ve sharpened their elbows and mobilized through intense crowds at malls, warehouse stores, and big box retailers.
People will go to great lengths to get a great deal. They’ll do things outside their normal scope of behavior, especially this time of year.
In fact, if you browse through our collection of coupon statistics, you’ll see that valuable merchant content inspires people to try a lot of new things.
Even mobile payments.
Over the course of my years working with merchants on coupon campaigns, I’ve found one common, recurring question: How can a coupon can help me connect with the right person at the right time?
In other words, the merchant wants to know how to connect to people who aren’t a current customer, at a time when that person is looking to make a purchase.
That isn’t just an issue with coupons, it’s really the key to overall business success, right? If we had a formula to get in front of the right person at the right time we’d all be billionaires.
10 years ago Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore starred in 50 First Dates, about a man in love with an amnesiac woman who needs to be refreshed daily on what has happened in her life. Sandler's character would have amazing romantic experiences with Barrymore's character, but it was all for naught: she'd wake up the next morning with zero recollection of him or their experiences together.
Barrymore's short-term memory loss is never fixed, but the couple eventually find a way around it by creating a brief "life recap" video she could watch every morning that ended with a call for her to come to breakfast, where Sandler and their daughter were waiting for her.
Besides being the last decent Adam Sandler movie, 50 First Dates is turning out to be eerily prophetic when it comes to the state of consumer loyalty. Today, everyone has a certain level of amnesia, and we require frequent reminders and great experiences to remember what brands we love.
I don't just work for a company that operates in the loyalty program space, I'm a huge fan of them myself. I'm attracted to the idea of getting something - points, a "punch," anything - for spending my dollars with a company. Like most people (78% in fact), I'm more likely to pull the trigger on a purchase if I know it'll be recognized somehow.
I'm not in the majority, however, when it comes to redeeming points (just 35% of members redeem points, according to Forrester). I like something for my points, even if it's just a branded beer koozie.
So it was that I found myself on the phone with a national retailer that operates a fairly prominent points program. Looking through their online portal, I noticed I had accumulated enough points to acquire a $50 gift card. Except, the site wouldn't let me redeem my points for that reward. According to the rep on the phone, it seems some of the points I had accumulated during a recent promotion weren't eligible toward the gift card.
Huh? I didn't know rules like that existed, but she told me it was all right there in the fine print of that particular promotion, naturally.
She went on to explain that I could redeem most of my points for a $35 gift card and my "promotional" points for a $5 card, putting me just $10 away from the $50 card I had fallen in love with. Conversely, if I spent a couple hundred bucks in-store that week I could earn points that would actually count toward the $50.
Last year a friend spent an hour telling me about how happy he was with his big screen television. It had a great picture, great apps interface, lots of HDMI ports - things TV geeks love.
This past weekend he bought another TV, though from a different brand than last year's. When I asked him why he switched brands, he provided a simple shrug of his shoulders, pointed at his new TV, and said, "I just thought this one was cool."
Anyone who's ever owned a business or spent any time in a customer service role knows that there are some customers who simply can’t be won over. You can give people a great product at a fair price and responsive service to back it up, and they still might pick a different brand next time simply because it seems like the "cool" thing to do.