Kristen Gramigna is Chief Marketing Officer for BluePay, a credit card processing firm, and also serves on its Board of Directors. She has more than 15 years experience in the bankcard industry in direct sales, sales management and marketing.
Building a base of loyal customers can be one of the most effective ways to increase your profitability and optimize your customer acquisition costs, but what does it take to win the favor of Millennials (consumers who are currently between 18 to 34 years old)? Here’s a look at how to target Millennials effectively through loyalty programs.
A recent study by Bond Brand Loyalty found that nearly 70 percent of those surveyed said they’d change where they shop because of the presence of a quality loyalty program, indicating that Millennials are highly responsive to retailer loyalty programs. However, they’re not attracted for the same reasons as the general population, which tends to value loyalty program discounts first and foremost. Instead, the degree to which the loyalty program includes components of social sharing and acknowledges the Millennial consumer in a way that gives them the opportunity to feel a part of a business matters more than money-saving offers.
Incorporate social sharing elements into Millennial loyalty programs with tactics like VIP sales that acknowledge the consumer’s participation in the event on social media, campaigns that invite customers to create their own images and content and share them on social channels like Instagram, YouTube and Pinterest, and social media contests that invite participation in product development and marketing concepts.
An attractive loyalty program that encompasses features like those above can attract Millennials, but they’re not a “low maintenance” loyalty program audience. Businesses who want to keep loyal Millennial members coming back must remain aware of the features and benefits competitors’ programs offer. It’s equally important to continually evolve their own loyalty programs to align with the changing behavioral trends and technology that Millennials engage with, to ensure that loyalty program members don’t leave as quickly as they were acquired. In Bond’s study, two-thirds of Millennial respondents said they wouldn’t remain loyal to a program that they didn’t feel was offering them value, regardless of their existing membership.
Millennials were raised with technology, and they identify with it. (In a survey by Nielsen, Millennials ranked “technology use” as what makes their generation unique.) Data by comScore indicates that Millennials are heavy mobile users; more than four out of every five Millennials owns a smartphone, and one in five Millennials exclusively use tablet devices or smartphones to access the Internet and shop online. (A white paper compiled by PunchTab indicates that many Millennials shop online daily.)
With that in mind, Millennials won’t be satisfied with a loyalty program that isn’t integrated into their highly mobile lives. Product search, selection, shopping cart editing, offer redemption, checkout order tracking and social media sharing for items the loyalty program member likes and has purchased should all be highly functional from a desktop, tablet and mobile device.
Despite their heavy reliance on mobile devices and technology, Millennials want a sense of personal connection with a brand’s loyalty program. They are heavy users of Facebook and other social media platforms, and believe in information sharing and gathering via social media and the Internet. The PunchTab study showed that Millennials value the potential exclusivity attributes that loyalty programs may offer, like expedited checkout, personal shopping services and access to exclusive content.
Millennials expect that their loyalty program retailer knows who they are — and recognizes them accordingly. Though they are tech-savvy and leverage apps to research the best price and promotion they can find on an item, Millennials aren’t interested in clipping coupons or being “nickeled and dimed”; they know how to find the best price, and they expect you’ll give it to them if they’re a loyalty customer. Keep your promotions to these loyalty program customers competitive, exclusive and easily redeemed on a mobile device and at the point of sale.
There are about 77 million Millennials in the United States, and they’ve got long lives of consumerism ahead of them. Brands that understand how to structure an appropriate loyalty program that makes this tech-savvy, social and resourceful group of consumers feel valued have the opportunity to acquire a highly profitable customer with significant long-term value.
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By Adam Toporek. Adam Toporek is an internationally recognized customer service expert, keynote speaker, and workshop leader. He is the author of Be Your Customer's Hero: Real-World Tips & Techniques for the Service Front Lines (2015), as well as the founder of the popular Customers That Stick® blog and co-host of the Crack the Customer Code podcast.