I enjoyed a customer loyalty conference in Sydney recently; not a large forum, but certainly one attended by very engaged Aussie loyalty-philes. Pleasantly surprised that loyalty could stand up on its own in a forum in this country, and a testament to the seriousness with which Australian retailers are addressing this topic.
Impressive, too, to see some of the success of relatively new programs - Rebel Sport's "Season Pass" program, with its two-tier pricing and other benefits; and Hoyts new Rewards program, with a swag of treats - just to name a couple. Not only were these and other initiatives garnering impressive take up by customers, I was really impressed with the thoughtful planning and execution.
Intelligently applying a blend of science, cost-efficient tech-wizardry, data deftness and a liberal dose of common sense and pragmatism seemed to provide a recipe for sustainable success. The mix needs to be just right, because it was also very clear that these programs need to be executed in an environment of scarce resources. It seems no program, big or small, has the luxury of large budgets and certainly not large teams. This seems true in programs as diverse as Dymocks' successful Booklover program and the data-intensive Onecard program from Countdown supermarkets in New Zealand.
Academics aren't often touted as draw-cards at these gatherings, so it was a pleasant surprise to take in engaging presentations from John Dawes from UniSA and Nathalie McCaughey from Monash Uni. The team John hails from has been producing solid work on loyalty and related topics going right back to Byron Sharp's quantitative study soon after FlyBuys began, while Nathalie's data-rich expose on what makes frequent flyer programs tick was an absolute revelation.
Loyalty programs are no longer new in this country, but this recent gathering demonstrated that this field is burgeoning, even blossoming.