During a recent trip to the grocery store, I commented at the checkout that I always receive coupons for baby food and diapers along with my receipt. I said sarcastically to the clerk, “You’d think I shop for those things and they know it.” The clerk nodded and completely seriously said, “I know, right? It’s like they’re watching everything. Doesn’t it seem creepy?” I had to laugh, but not until I was out of view. Like any period of rapid change, not everyone is fully briefed on the latest events in the digital revolution.
So Much Change
The clerk’s response isn’t all that surprising in the retail world, where so much is changing so quickly. As McKinsey said recently, we’re in the middle of a data analytics revolution. Everything we thought we knew has changed, and our ability to know the customer and tailor offers and other interactions is remarkably strong. Not everyone, the clerk included, realizes that customer loyalty is the opposite of creepy. In an era where so much can be known, predicted, and acted upon, loyalty programs are the only way to help the customer to feel comfortable with a brand’s knowledge of their habits and personal information.
Giving My Permission
A brand I feel loyal to, like my local grocery story, has my permission to track my spending patterns and to make offers on the products I’m most likely to buy or be willing to try. I look forward, in fact, to seeing what discounts and other deals they have in store for me. Think back to “coupon packs” and newspaper fliers of just a few years ago, where the majority of items were unlikely to catch our interest, and you’ll see just how far loyalty programs have come. Today’s programs have outgrown the simple points and plastic of yesterday’s brand loyalty and are executed as an integrated, marketer-friendly, data-enriched, real-time system.
A Loyalty-Driven Revolution
For retail, the digital analytics revolution that McKinsey talks about is loyalty-driven—it’s that simple. Brands that don’t invest in smart customer loyalty management risk breaking trust with their customers and losing business to the competitor who does.
This post first appeared on the Loyalty Lab Blog and has been lightly edited.