How Exclusivity Can Boost Your Loyalty Program

Everyone wants to feel special. With the right type of loyalty program, your best customers will not only see added value from their regular purchases but also deeper emotional affinity that arises from feeling personally recognized as “special” by the brands they love. Loyalty programs that are able to convince customers that they are uniquely appreciated can also incentivize others to strive for this same level of acknowledgment.

The key for brands that want to achieve these goals is to craft a loyalty program that projects an air of exclusivity. By making the rewards and status that come with your loyalty program feel exclusive, customers see added value from their loyalty participation far beyond what a typical discounted purchase can offer. Some of the best loyalty programs achieve new heights of desirability for loyalty status to the point where the program itself becomes part of the brand’s products and image.

Here are some of the ways brands have been able to accomplish this measure of exclusivity in their loyalty programs:

Offer Unique, Exclusive Rewards

Many loyalty programs have a “cash back” type redemption structure. Customers make purchases, and these purchases accumulate points so that they can receive discounted or free items in the future. While these benefits are appreciated, the idea of customers being able to buy something they could have purchased already albeit at a lower price is hardly worth drooling over.

As an alternative, brands have found ways to incentivize loyalty participation so that customers are striving towards acquiring an item that can only be found through loyalty activities alone. A great example is the former Club Nintendo loyalty program offered by the titular Japanese mega-giant gaming company. Members acquired “coins” by purchasing retail games, consoles and accessories. After accumulating enough of them, members could then use these coins to purchase unique items from the Club Nintendo website.

Lists abound of the best items Club Nintendo offered, including an exclusive controller from a beloved older system that connected to their then-current Wii console controller, melding both the past and present of the company in a nostalgic overload that few Nintendo fans could resist. Once the items were removed from the available roster they were gone for good — that is, unless you were willing to pay a pretty penny on eBay for one.

Other companies have used this tactic to offer a loyalty reward that could never be resold: an experience. Top members could converse with company officials, attend exclusive gatherings or try out new items before they hit the market. With rewards like these, bragging rights become a major motivator to spend money on products and hoard loyalty currency until they have enough to reach their goal.

Tier Systems

Countless brands have found that letting customers know exactly where they stand within their loyalty journey gives them a feeling of prestige that they carry with them wherever they go. These customers become both brand evangelists when they talk about their exclusive high-tier benefits and ambassadors when others just entering into the loyalty foray look to them for inspiration.

The allure of reaching the “next level” in loyalty recognition can be a powerful motivator for customer behavior, too. This concept was explored uproariously in an episode of Frasier where the two Crane brothers found it impossible to enjoy the spa membership tier they were in as long as there was another exclusive tier beyond it. The draw is strengthened not necessarily by the rewards themselves, but the desire for those to gain access to something they do not yet have.

Starbucks Rewards members feel this type of envy compel them as they peruse Twitter and see it littered with people in their community tweeting #goldcard in regards to the top-level of Starbucks membership. Even better, Starbucks requires gold members to make enough purchases during the year so that they will be able to renew their gold status, making the privilege a responsibility at the same time.

So stir up envy in the hearts of some of your customers and let others bask in the fruits of their continued patronage by offering tempting, elusive and exclusive rewards. Digital Social Retail helps brands structure their loyalty programs however they want while also managing aspects like social media posting, SMS messaging, beacon platforms, digital signage and more at the same time, all with powerful analytics to back up your every decision. Visit our product page to discover more about how we can help make your loyalty program the talk of the town.

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