I started my career as a brand designer before moving to digital experience design and when last year I got an opportunity to work on a loyalty program, I was thrilled. One of the leading US-based CPG brand approached us to create a pitch for the next generation of their loyalty program and I was on-boarded to the team as the lead experience designer.

Before diving into project details I would start with the basics of branding as the aim of a loyalty program is to increase brand remembrance with its customers.

Brand = Emotions + Remembrance

A loyalty program is a way for the customers to get engaged to a brand they love and hence for a loyalty program to be successful it should speak the brand’s language and tap into customer’s emotions.

Understanding Challenges & Opportunities

Since the duration was a few weeks, once the design brief was articulated, we started with desk research to understand challenges with the existing loyalty program and doing a benchmarking exercise to understand loyalty program landscape in the US.

Keeping these challenges in mind, we started to create experience principles that would guide the new loyalty program.

Creating Experience Principles

  1. An omni-channel approach

In the last 5 years, most of the leading brands have introduced their loyalty programs to digital platforms. In today’s world having a digital presence of a loyalty program has become a baseline.

A study conducted by Juniper says “3 billion loyalty cards will operate as mobile-only or be integrated into mobile apps by 2020, up from 1.4 billion in 2015

Thus our first recommendation was to build an omni-channel digital presence for the loyalty program. A large part of it was to build a native application for mobile devices.

2. An integrated ecosystem

A standalone loyalty program would fail to keep the user engaged, it needs to be integrated into the brand’s ecosystem. In our case, the brand had different micro-sites for the loyalty program, offers, articles, events, etc. Not just that different product lines sometimes had their own microsite. It was painful for the customers to remember about these micro-sites.

With the new loyalty program there was a need to bring all these digital assets into one place and create a robust ecosystem.

Taking the example of Marriott’s reward program, the mobile app is not just for loyalty points but also provides features such as lounge access, mobile check-in, services etc. And it is a single reward program for almost 29 sub-brands owned by Marriot and its partners.

3. Transactional vs Experiential Rewards

When was the last time you became loyal to a brand just because you received a discount? Loyalty is not bought, its earned over time.

Transactional rewards like discounts and offers have a short-term impact on customers and can fail to build brand loyalty. However, customers are more likely to remember a brand after getting a delightful experience.

Taking the example of Starbuck’s reward program in the US, it not only provides great offers and occasional free drinks but it also gives enrolled customers ability to place an order through the mobile app and skip the queue for collecting the order.

Thanks for reading about my experience, if you like it do give a clap. If you want to know more about this project you can visit my behance.

Do leave your comments and questions below.


Re-imagining UX of a loyalty program was originally published in UX Planet on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Read at UX Planet

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