The Future of Loyalty: Predictions for the Next Decade

Loyalty programmes have come a long way since their inception. From simple stamp cards to the sophisticated data-driven models of today, they've consistently evolved to cater to changing consumer preferences and technological advances. Unfortunately, we don’t have a crystal ball, but here are some of our favourite predictions for the future of loyalty programmes.

Hyper-Personalisation Through AI

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is set to play an even more significant role. With the vast amount of data generated by users, AI can analyse purchase histories, browsing behaviours and more to allow the offer of hyper-personalised rewards, ensuring each member feels individually valued. If you haven’t yet started to use AI in your loyalty programme, then think about where it could be of most benefit  to you or your members. You could use AI to interrogate your data better, provide personalised shopping recommendations to customers, generate personalised content and communications for you, or inform customers of the best campaigns to enable them to redeem a favourited reward item.

Personalised reward shops with an emphasis on real-time and experiential rewards

This trend is already in existence, but we think it will grow to provide members with personalised reward shops where they will move beyond transactional rewards (like discounts) to more experiential ones. Members might earn unique experiences, such as exclusive events, webinars, or personalised content, all of which will create deeper emotional connections with brands. To make VIP members feel truly valued, you could look to offer a concierge service to assist with redemptions – or even as a redemption option. Real-time analytics would allow brands to offer instant rewards based on real-time actions, like social media shares, reviews, or in-store behaviours.

Sustainability at the Core

With rising awareness about environmental issues and the impact that companies can have, loyalty programmes are likely to start rewarding more sustainable customer behaviours, like purchasing eco-friendly products or recycling, and thus incentivising members to make environmentally-conscious decisions. This is an area where a business can really help its members to understand the small changes that they can make; keeping communication simple, and actions small and timely, will have a real impact on how much a programme can help its members to change habits.

Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) Integration

Although this is already happening, it isn’t yet commonplace, and we can see some huge benefits of it in the B2B world where customers could get virtual reality assistance with product installation, usage or service explanation. It could be used to virtually "try out" rewards or experience a brand's offering in more immersive ways. Depending on the business, augmented reality could be used to create some form of ‘treasure hunt’ across stores, or a more immersive spin-to-win game. This integration could make loyalty programmes much more interactive and engaging.

Emphasis on Health and Wellness

Loyalty programmes of the future are likely to prioritise members' well-being, as the working world shifts to become much more empathetic and concerned with the whole individual, rather than just the person during working hours. Understanding your customers’ outside interests, and how you can really create a value-added benefit for them as an individual, will deepen their brand loyalty. Mental wellness is, rightly, a hot topic and businesses are striving to provide better support for their employees. Think about how you could support your members by offering rewards linked to health, fitness, and mental wellness.

Increased Security and Privacy Concerns

There are so many loyalty programme providers out there and the data that a loyalty programme provides can be a huge benefit to companies. Data really is the cornerstone of loyalty programmes and ensuring its security and accuracy will be paramount. Make sure that, when you are talking to a new provider, you understand what security measures they have in place, how their programme deals with GDPR and the financial accuracy and security of your reward currency. Although points can rarely be exchanged for ‘cash’, they still hold a value and your provider needs to treat those in the same way as they would treat physical money. Look for certifications, qualifications and policies before you start working with someone.

As we said at the start, we don’t have a crystal ball, but these are all the things we are discussing in our business; we want to make them all a reality for our clients using LoyaltyStream®. Watch this space as we keep you up to date on our progress.
 

About the Author

Melanie Parker

Melanie Parker

Stream’s co-founder, Melanie, became the first British woman to become accredited with the CLMP from The Loyalty Academy. Passionate about all things loyalty, Melanie cuts through the technical jargon and gets to the real business issue. Melanie loves to develop engaging digital solutions that appear simple whilst creating long lasting partnerships that add value to all.

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