In today’s highly competitive business environment, brands are constantly searching for innovative ways to engage and retain their customers. Traditional loyalty programs, which often offer points or cash rewards, are being outdone by a new trend: experiential rewards. Here’s a closer look at five brands that are leading the charge in offering experiences, rather than monetary benefits, to their loyal customers. And, some opportunities available to clubs.
- Marriott Bonvoy – An Escape into Luxury
One of the top names in the hospitality industry, Marriott Bonvoy, has taken the experiential rewards game to another level. With their ‘Marriott Bonvoy Moments,’ members can redeem their points for one-of-a-kind experiences. We’re not talking about just an upgraded room here. Imagine having a private cooking class with a renowned chef in Italy, or a backstage pass to a Broadway show.
Value to Customers: It’s all about exclusivity. Customers feel that they’re getting a slice of a life that money can’t typically buy. It builds an emotional connection, as they create memories linked to the brand.
- Sephora’s Beauty Insider – A Beauty Aficionado’s Dream
Sephora’s Beauty Insider program rewards its members with not just sample products but also access to exclusive beauty classes and events. Members can attend classes on makeup techniques or skincare routines, ensuring they get the most out of the products they buy.
Value to Customers: Education and empowerment. The experience allows customers to better use their purchased products, ensuring satisfaction. It also provides a community feel, where beauty enthusiasts can mingle and share tips.
- Red Bull – Fueling Adventures
Red Bull’s loyalty program goes beyond just offering energy drinks. They sponsor and host a plethora of global events from music festivals, extreme sports events to eSports tournaments. Loyalists have the chance to win VIP tickets or even participate in these adrenaline-pumping events.
Value to Customers: Adventure and thrill. It’s not just about consuming a drink; it’s about embracing a lifestyle. Customers associate the brand with excitement, energy, and pushing boundaries.
- American Express Unstaged – Music to the Ears
American Express’s ‘Unstaged’ program offers cardmembers exclusive access to live virtual reality concerts. These aren’t just any concerts; they’re curated performances from some of the biggest names in the music industry, allowing members to experience live shows from the comfort of their homes.
Value to Customers: Exclusive entertainment. In a time where live concerts can be expensive and often sell out quickly, this provides a unique solution. The virtual reality aspect offers an immersive experience, making members feel like they’re front and center at the show.
- NikePlus – Elevating the Fitness Game
NikePlus members don’t just earn points for purchasing athletic gear. They’re also offered exclusive access to workout classes, training sessions with athletes, and even unique sporting events. It’s a holistic approach to fitness and lifestyle.
Value to Customers: Personal growth and well-being. It’s not just about wearing the brand; it’s about embodying the lifestyle it promotes. Members feel motivated, inspired, and part of a larger community of fitness enthusiasts.
Why Experiential Rewards?
The pivot towards experiential rewards is not merely a marketing gimmick. There’s a science and strategy behind it:
Emotional Connection: Experiences evoke emotions. When a brand is associated with a positive experience, it’s remembered more fondly and creates a deeper emotional connection.
Social Media Visibility: People love to share experiences on social media. This not only gives brands free publicity but also portrays them in a positive light when seen through the personal stories of their loyal customers.
Higher Perceived Value: The perceived value of unique experiences often outweighs that of monetary rewards. For example, a customer might value a cooking class with a top chef more than a $100 voucher, even if the monetary cost to the brand is the same.
Experiential Rewards in Clubs
Are experiential rewards relevant to clubs? We can’t book back of house tours to a Taylor Swift concert but there are many experiential rewards we can offer customers:
- Chefs table experience
- Cooking classes – clubs often have several food cultures.
- Cocktail making classes.
- Coffee making classes and tasting events.
- Wine tasting / food pairing
- Visit to a gaming suppliers’ showroom?
As the business landscape evolves, so do customer expectations. Brands that recognize the power of experiences and successfully integrate them into their loyalty programs will likely have the edge in building stronger, more meaningful relationships with their customers. The future of loyalty is not just about points or cash – it’s about memories, emotions, and experiences.