The future of loyalty is 'Now'

The future of loyalty is 'Now'

2 August 2017

There are fewer things the human brain loves more than immediate stimulation – we are totally hard-wired to crave instantaneous payoff.

In fact researchers at universities the world over have shown through MRI studies that the possibility of immediate reward activates those parts of the brain that are influenced heavily by neural systems associated with emotion – and flicking the switch on those emotional centres is what makes us so prone to engage, buy and keep coming back for more.

Copywriters have been long-tapping into our human psyches, proving that the use of language such as ‘immediate’, ‘quick’ and ‘instantaneous’ has a dramatic positive impact on customers’ overall engagement, response and ultimately their purchasing behaviour.

And in the sphere of customer loyalty, there has never been a greater opportunity for retailers and brands to make the most of this basic human truth – ‘The Need for Now’

No longer just the demand of generations Y & Z, ‘The Need for Now’ is a truth for all consumer groups. Customer expectations are high, with the meteoric rise in on-demand services, explosion of channels and instant access to information, the retailers and brands who are able to deliver this immediate value across the entire shopping experience are those who will gain competitive edge.

This fundamental shift to next-generation loyalty is well underway, with the newest and most engaging programmes not looking like programmes at all - rejecting the more traditional and rigid loyalty mechanics of cards, points, published benefits and rewards in favour of far more agile investments giving individual customers the benefits of a truly differentiating and highly personalised experience across rewards, content, reviews, recognition and service. All of which is heightened by the immediacy provided by smartphones – the hub of customers' lives.

With nearly 80% of customers stating that they now use their smartphones in-store, whether that be for receiving relevant content, targeted offers, making payments, scanning coupons, accessing product reviews, checking price points, participating in gamification or interacting through social platforms, this demand for immediacy is a groundswell which shows no signs of dissipating.

And with the Internet of Things only continuing to blur the lines between the real and digital worlds, the opportunities to engage and interact with customers in real-time are just continuing to expand exponentially as consumers embrace new technologies. This constant connection means the entire shopping experience is becoming increasingly sophisticated and it’s only amplifying the amount of data being generated and made available to retailers – so making the most of it to meet and deliver against the customer promise is becoming harder and harder to grapple with.

Quite simply this ‘Need for Now’ calls for far more advanced data and analytical techniques and in essence this means harnessing the power of machine learning. It’s now possible to clean and organise a wealth of different data sources and types, distil those data aspects that are most important and build thousands of highly predictive models in a matter of hours, with limited human intervention, something that only a few years ago would have taken teams of analysts months to achieve.

Those retailers who can automatically apply complicated algorithms at speed to increasingly bigger and bigger data to deliver highly accurate and more predictive results will be those who deliver against their customer promises and gain competitive edge… because despite the amazing advances in technology, data and science, some things don’t change – a need to understand what the customer wants and deliver against that time and time again.

Managing Director Customer Engagement

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