We’ve heard it all before – but, as we enter one of the most uncertain economic periods in recent history, rewarding customers for loyalty really is now more important than ever, says Chris Baldwin of Sodexo.

5 loyalty trends for 2017


We’ve heard it all before – but, as we enter one of the most uncertain economic periods in recent history, rewarding customers for loyalty really is now more important than ever, says Chris Baldwin of Sodexo. PROMOTIONAL FEATURE

A loyal customer is more profitable and their value cannot be overstated; and, with so many new technologies becoming mainstream in 2016, there is a great foundation to build on and refine in 2017 when honing a strategy for loyalty.

Here are the five top loyalty trends of 2016 that should shape your strategy in 2017.


With 65% of marketers seeing loyalty schemes as an essential part of the marketing mix, retaining customers is imperative – and personalisation has a key part to play in keeping shoppers loyal.

Tesco have been doing it for years; you buy something in store and you’re offered Clubcard points on similar products.

As a more tech savvy generation takes over, this has evolved to include cookies and suggested ‘items to buy’ following internet shopping.

Brands need to take a leaf out of the retail playbook and take personalisation on board, making it a huge part of what they offer their consumers. Whether this is through a points system or through preferential treatment via a membership scheme or loyalty platform, it is important to remember that adding specific value to an offer makes it infinitely more attractive.

Be technologically advanced

These days, offering a coupon on promotional packaging is just one of the ways to offer consumers added value. Technology means there are now so many other avenues available to get in front of consumers.

Much of the new technology available to be used in promotions can be delivered via an app or smartphone camera, and that means that the speed at which redemption can be achieved is extraordinary.

Brands can deploy coupon and barcode scanning apps, which can recognise scanned receipts or QR codes displayed on restaurant tables offering instant-win prizes, or sophisticated 3D object recognition software which identifies products within the real world space and can then offer real-time sales promotions.

Travel experiences

Walk through any supermarket and you’ll find promotions offering luxury getaways and chances to win ‘once in a lifetime experiences’ on the shelves. With 75% of people saying they would be interested in entering a travel promotion, this trend looks set to continue. The idea of an experience as a reward isn’t new; in fact, research shows that Millennials prefer this type of reward over cash bonuses, so it is important the B2C market tap into this to reward loyal customers.

Travel is easier than ever before, and short city breaks can also hold appeal when it comes to rewarding loyalty. A price-sensitive choice becomes far less clear-cut when, for example, there is the option to renew your current insurance and potentially win a city break versus having to research a new provider for a minimal saving.

Instant rewards

Although we may have found them annoying at some point, no one can deny the effectiveness of text alerts from your favourite stores or push notifications direct to your mobile offering limited time discounts or exclusive prizes.

With Millennials coming into their own in the consumer market, the time is ripe for instant rewards. The Millennial generation question the traditional ways of doing things and are more willing to research for themselves. So for them, a push notification reminding them that their insurance is due for renewal, but with the added value of a downloadable £20 e-voucher is a very attractive prospect.

The gratification offered by an instant tangible reward helps to inspire loyalty in a generation often seen as frivolous. Marketers know that Millennials tend to have less loyalty to brands and will often chop and change to get the best deals, rewards and benefits. Therefore, it is important that rewards are not only personalised, but also readily and instantly available without the need for additional communications.

Retention is the new buzzword

On average it costs a business 5 to 10 times more to acquire a customer than it does to sell to an existing one and just a 5% increase in customer retention can lead to 25%-100% increase in profit. Current customers spend roughly 67% more than new customers so it pays to appeal to this demographic.

The autosave password function means that customers can return again and again to their favourite retailers making it prime space to host promotions rewarding loyal customers.

By encouraging customers to log in via a specific portal with enticing discounts and rewards for doing so, brands and businesses can reinforce brand recognition and loyalty simply by being convenient and offering added value. There is a great opportunity to create brand association every time they use the portal. For example, offering additional discounts on further products in the range or in partnership with other brands makes the reward not only more attractive but also more memorable.

The 21st century is fast paced, with older technology making way for the new, and a younger and savvier generation holding the purse strings. It’s more important now than ever before to keep rewards attractive for loyal customers. ‘Instantancy’ – the demand for instant rewards – and convenience are key aspects that will only become more prevalent going forward as we rely more and more on technology in our day to day lives.

The ways in which we access and interact with traditional consumer promotions continues to evolve at an alarming rate. However, with great change often comes great opportunity and the promotional marketing arena is no exception to this rule. In 20 years’ time, we may look back and regard this as the age of digital experimentation; but whilst there is so much new ground to cover, the chances for creative and exciting ways to interact with customers are yet to be fully explored.

Chris Baldwin is Director of Consumer Programs at Sodexo. The Sodexo family, which includes the Promorati brands Protravel, Filmology, Fotorama and Entice, is Headline Sponsor of The IPM Awards 2017.

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