Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Fatal Attraction of Reward Points....

As marketers, we spend much of our time in researching our customers, their needs, segmenting and targeting them into clusters and finally blasting offers, coupons, freebies, incentives and even birthday cards as if there were no tomorrow.

Marketers have been challenged with quite often the ability to deliver a suitable value to customers at the right place at the right time with the right context. The introduction of bluetooth, gps, the Internet and a suite of other technologies, one would imagine the scale would have tipped in favour of the marketeer...but alas not, as the challenge is not in the channel as much as in "customer understanding"

It is rare to come across messaging which is considered to be in the domain of "consistent relevance" by consumers. So what is it that holding us back?

1. We do a lot of research but do we listen? : Research is conducted to test hypotheses, but often we do not read between the lines....

2. We talk but do we have a dialogue? : How much of our time is spent in having a dialogue with our customers outside the scope of research. ( A couple of years back when I was handling a children's product category, we commenced the practice of chat sessions & not focus groups with was an enriching and remarkable experience...try it out sometime)

3. We receive...but do we comprehend? : There's gigabytes of data churned out each day, but how much do we comprehend and turn into action.....

In the case of loyalty programmes, we have been so enamored by reward points, that its almost a fixation ( glen close revisited...)...The reasons as below:

a. Protect the brand...don't give back cash, but seek camaflogue behind reward points, thereby protecting the brand equity!
b. It's universal.....the common currency but in a different avatar
c. It's easy..this is the single unspoken truth.

Well quite often to the extent that several experts believe that reward points is but the foundation stone which meet the hygiene level of expectation, the rest is bonus.

Well... a different perspective...have a reward programme in which you can present value to your customer in their every interaction with your brand ( and even intent to interact!).

I'm a strong believer that there are several large segments of customers who would value services and benefits other than points..The hospitality segment has done this wonderfully well in tracking their customers preferences and extending them on the next visit.

Believe its time we spent a little more time in understanding how we can better add value back to our valued customers and question the precious marketing dollars we invest in points..........

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