1.  Apple

Straight off the bat, you’re probably wondering what the Apple loyalty program is? Well… there isn’t one.

Few brands have ever created the fanatical following and inspired customer loyalty the way Apple has.

That’s because they’ve created a following, a community, with their innovative products and aspirations for their customers to “think different”.

Different, means to have dreams, to inspire. To challenge the status quo. To explore.

Its’ something consumers not only relate to; they want to be part of the journey.

Not every brand has been able to develop this ‘cult’ status the way Apple has without resorting rewards and incentives.

But brands that have a truly unique, end to end value proposition that’s reflected in everything they do, actually can.

Why is Apple a top 10 customer loyalty example?

Apple doesn’t have a loyalty program. But they probably have the most loyal customer base.

2.  NikePlus

Customer loyalty isn’t only about the points or the rewards. The NikePlus program is the perfect example of how a brand creates a member only community that helps generate brand loyalty.

Here’s how Nike has been redefining their rewards program for the active person.

Customers create a NikePlus membership. The membership gets them access to member only products, priority event access, free shipping, birthday rewards, express checkout and expert guidance from real athletes.

Better yet, members can redeem rewards for free merchandise every two week from vending machines available at select Nike stores through the Nike branded app, encouraging in-store visits.

Nike realises that the shopping experience should be different for their most valued customers.

The online shopping experience changes depending if customers are logged in.
Members already logged in, are provided with member only pricing, free shipping and invitations to new events, service and brand activation's.

A NikePlus account also works globally across their app ecosystem. That means, with one login, members can switch from their Run Club app, to view the latest sneaker drops of Air Jordans with one, universal club account… your Nike identity.

Why is NikePlus a top 10 customer loyalty example?

The programme reinforces brand values, creates a Nike community whilst providing customers with savings, discounts and member benefits. In short, it provides customers with genuine Nike value for joining.

3. Airpoints™

A personal favourite of mine, the Airpoints™ programme is arguably Australia’s best rewards program.

Like many airlines, they’ve opted to create their own coalition programme, partnering with popular retail and online brands, and incentivising customers with Airpoints™, which is essentially its own currency.

What is a coalition loyalty program?

A coalition program is a loyalty program that gives customers the ability to earn points and rewards from multiple business partners. Typically, there is a common currency or earn rate, and customer insights are shared across business partners. These programs package up many benefits into a single rewards program and provide a greater flexibility for customers, as points can be earned at many different businesses.

The earn rate of points, varies depending on partner. Partners range from Banks, Insurance companies, Supermarkets to Travel and hospitality businesses. In fact, you can earn Airpoints™ from select banks with an Airpoints™ credit card.

As its New Zealand’s primary airline, points can be spent on almost anything. Flights, upgrades, member lounge passes, rental cars, the Airpoints™ shop, even inflight entertainment and food.

Like many airline programmes, they include a tier level status which provides free lounge access, additional baggage, valet parking and priority check-in.

Recently, they’ve partnered with one of New Zealand’s largest fuel retail providers, Z Energy which had already operated the Fly Buys program for several years.

Customers at Z have a choice to either earn Fly Buys or Airpoints™.

But because Fly Buys operates a pure point exchange for shop goods in their online store, customers equate Airpoints™ with real currency savings.

It’s not a few cent’s off their fuel or a discounted toaster redeemed online, but a luxury status level that’s achieved and visibly noticeable when you fly.

In short, it makes you feel special.

That’s reflected right throughout their brand materials and their marketing mix.

The understated luxury of getting preferential treatment, simply by transacting from partner stores is something customers value.

Why is Airpoints™ a top 10 customer loyalty example?

Coalition programmes aren’t just about customer retention or enhancing brand loyalty. They’re also a customer acquisition tool for many coalition partners.

With the Airpoints™ example, partner stores acquire customers they wouldn’t typically, and in return, aligns themselves with Airpoints™ such as business travellers or corporate clients.

For brands that don’t have much to offer their customers; insurance for example, it serves as another reason to switch brands or compare based on aspects greater than just price.

Airpoints™ also does a great job at creating that fear of missing out. Customers will often book another flight, just to maintain their status level.

They constantly keep their customers on the treadmill, ensuring they keep working towards their next level of achievement.

It’s almost like Air New Zealand has reversed the loyalty concept, and you question yourself, what else can I do for them? What else do I need to do, to keep them liking me so that I can keep my status?

4.    Tesco Pay:

How do you create added value, when the nature of your business is to focus on driving prices down? How do you add value to points and rewards, when margins are tight?

Tesco, the Supermarket giant, understands just how important loyalty programs are to providing consumer insights to drive purchase behaviour.

But they also understand that programs don’t necessarily play nicely with the word “discount”.

It’s very hard to create true brand advocates when your strategy is to discount price.

Rather, Tesco uses operational efficiencies and value-added products like their financial and telco services to enhance and personalise the customer experience.

Investing heavily in a transactional loyalty model for larger Supermarket brands makes a lot of sense, given how frequently customers visit and how disengaged consumers can be with enterprise brands.

Tesco have achieved success by extending their ClubCard experience through their product chain.

That’s meant Tesco is less a company with a loyalty program, but a loyalty company that’s using their technology to a) enhance the customer experience and b) ensure customers are immersed across their product range.

5. Le Club Accor:

The Le Club Accor is loyalty program from the Accor Hotel Group. It offers a mix of points, rewards, member benefits plus partner benefits from its strategic partners.

One if their program strengths is the shear spread of hotels you can use your membership at, offering 3,760 hotels globally that accept your account.

The level of service I’ve experienced from staff relaying the benefits, or the incentives on initial sign up, go a long way to reinforcing the value and member benefits you get from the program.

Small gestures, like Free WiFi at any location simply for joining, is a real cost-saving and value add, that costs the group essentially nothing.

Customers earn points from each Hotel location based on how much you spend during your stay or through partners.

Unfortunately, two thousand points gets a customer $45 USD, so it does take a while before customers accumulate enough points for a reward.

Customers achieve status levels, much like Airpoints™, and can redeem their points from their partner ecosystem.

Why is Le Club Accor a top 10 customer loyalty example?

Ask any loyalty consultants and they’d agree that the key drivers behind your loyalty program are staff champions.

The hotel industry relies on its reputation and customer service. The experience I’ve witnessed across venues when communicating the benefits and reasons to join, where clear, simple and consistent.

Better yet, the program acts as a global brand and identity across its hotel network.

6.    Woolworths – Wrewards:

Woolworths is a South Africa-based multinational retail company that owns the retail chain Woolworths, and Australian retailers David Jones and Country Road Group.

Their rewards programme, Wrewards goes beyond the swipe, by providing mechanisms to link your account to community brands.

Yes, customers can save on their spending at Woolworths and redeem their discounts, but it’s their omni-channel approach that’s earned them a top spot.

The Woolworths program supports a Woolworths credit card, which like Airpoints™ is a customer’s universal member account.

The difference is that this is an exclusive Woolworths experience. Customers have the choice of card, app or online account.

App loyalty customers can shop online, get the latest recipe or fashion tips, query products by scan, check their reward balances and even apply for personal fund increases.

Personal finance and credit card functionality seem to be a common trend with the big players.

Having successfully reached customers across all their touch points, they’ve extended their programme to include community partners such as myschool.co.za, which raises funds for schools, charities and animal welfare or environmental organisations.

That approach keeps their community involvement simple, and separate from Wrewards, which really, is about the member benefits and savings.

Customers opting for a Wrewards credit card, additionally get 5% savings on top of the typical programme cash backs, which makes for some extra savings.

Why Wrewards doesn’t secure top spot?

Unlike Nike, the Woolworths programme doesn’t go far enough to influence brand loyalty. Due to the nature of high-volume retail, shoppers tend to expect a discount by registering.

Successful programs that don’t need to resort to straight discount behaviour, uphold premium brand values and lead to greater profitability. That’s harder said than done thought, given the nature of the industry Woolworths is operating in.

7.    StarBucks Rewards

StarBucks Rewards has always been touted as the gold standard in loyalty programs.

It’s simple, easy to join, easy to add credit to your loyalty account and easy to enjoy the benefits. Customers get free food, coffee and access to exclusive deals and treats dependant on how much they visit and spend.

Earning “Stars” gets customers free food and even merchandise from their online store.

While the programme is great, and their shift from a visitation-based model, to a spend based model has worked a treat, it’s their payment and ordering app that earns this brand five stars.

They were one of the first brands to incorporate payment and ordering into the programme. That’s been a tremendous success to driving user and brand engagement.

StarBucks CFO, Scott Maw is quoted to have said that “almost all of the company’s same-store sales growth has come from customers that have digital relationships with the company and those that are in the Starbucks Rewards program”.

8. Uber Rewards:

Uber is really a tech and logistics company, more than a taxi service. So, it’d only be logical to include smart program benefits, from the tech giant.

The program enables customers to earn Uber Cash by using the Uber and Uber Eats services.

Customers receive the typical benefits you’d expect like points, rewards and customer statuses dependant on usage.

What makes it unique, is the ability to incorporate technology smarts dependant on status level.

For example, Diamond customers get priority pickups plus access to highly rated drivers.

That’s a programme benefits that’s been incorporate directly into their logistics service, to respect the status level of a customer.

That represents a significant investment in the program if it’s affecting how customers are prioritised for pick up and goes beyond the simple priority lane at the airport.

Why is Uber Rewards a top 10 customer loyalty example?

The technology needed to implement this rewards program, is really a core function within the Uber application.

It’s relatively easy nowadays to launch a typical points programme.

But when you’re prioritising customers, digitally, based on customer status and adjusting a significant amount of business processes and customer experiences to cater for those members, it’s no longer a simple marketing exercise.

This rewards programme would have involved a significant amount of moving parts and development.

9.    Social Club

The Social Club is a brand created by Kapura, previously known as the Wellington Hospitality Group. Kapura operate your classic point per spend model, whereby customers earn points based on the amount spent at their many restaurants and bars.

Customers receive special offers, incentives for joining and sweet rewards like bar vouchers – everyone likes free beer!

What sets them apart from competitors are their birthday rewards they offers loyal customers. Every birthday, a customers receives a $30 Bar Voucher. That might seem like a lot, given the 60,000 members part of their programme, but actually, when you think about:

·      No one dines alone on their birthday – that would be rather sad if it were true

·      Typically, if you’re out on your birthday with friends, customers spend up large

·      It’s treated as cash – there is real value here and lastly;

·      It reinforces their commitment to ensuring you remain loyal to their many venues.

Why is The Social Club a top 10 customer loyalty example?

Social Club have created a type of points currency across their customers. Approximately 65% of points earned, get spent within 3 months (point breakage). That’s an incredibly high number and indicated a very healthy programme.

10. Sephora's Beauty Insider

Most eCommerce gurus would have heard of Sephora, the cosmetic brand.

Their rewards program is free to join and operates your typical spend model to work out how many points customers receive.

Much like the NikePlus program, Sephora’s ability to create a brand community with their rewards program is reflected by the number of VIB members acquired over time. Their demographic of customers is perfectly suited towards a tiered, point model and customers see real value in achieving their reward levels.

Once community members have unlocked access to their VIP Rouge pass, the top tier of the program, they receive benefits above and beyond a base member.

Benefits include;

·      Discount savings

·      Free makeovers

·      2-day shipping

·      Invitations to exclusive events;

·      And a private support line for any issues

This is a great example of concierge level support, from an eCommerce brand.

They’ve really thought long and hard about value added products, gifts and experiences they can offer their members which reflect their brand.