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Aug 11, 2023
12 Examples of the Most Creative Loyalty Programs
Build your own creative loyalty program with 12 of the best examples. find out the best-kept secrets for some of the most influential loyalty programs. build meaningful relationships with your best customers with these 12 examples as guidance..
Loyalty Programs are awesome that's why they’re everywhere! Are they worth it? Are they a good fit for your business? Let’s find out.
There are tons of loyalty programs out there right now - so many that your average customer participates in about 14 programs. Of those loyalty programs a shopper is expected to use only half of them. This means there is an underlined issue that we need to identify!
When the meaning of loyalty programs is misunderstood, they fail to accomplish their goal and end up as expensive giveaways.
So does it mean that you should give up on loyalty programs ?
Of course not. After all, loyalty programs can be game-changing. What's important is how you make that program count. This article will give a few cases when a loyalty program may be useful and 12 examples of great loyalty programs that successfully elevate beyond the typical. They’ve managed to create something more than basic bonuses - with meaningful experiences, personalized service, or social values.
When should you start an e-commerce loyalty program?
- When the economy slows: around times of economic instability, when many expenses suddenly become luxuries, loyalty programs can help alleviate some of the burden. Loyalty programs are designed based on customer purchases and history and are programable to be very stable solutions. The longer you’ve been using them, the more impactful they can become as you collect more members. They can also help maximize value from your active customers and give you all the tools to handle visitors.
- When you’re trying to save on expenses: loyalty programs are a very inexpensive solution with some major upsides. Most loyalty programs come as complete subscription apps that are easily installed into your e-commerce store. They often have numerous tools that you can leverage to complement your goals. Conversions are generally low in e-commerce and having a rewards system can make it competitive for you when customers compare options.
- When you want to build a customer base: Having a targettable customer base is deeply undervalued. Finding new customers can often be difficult and expensive, and loyalty programs are ideal for attracting, managing, and retaining customers. We also see e-commerce businesses face difficulties extracting the maximum value from their customers, which loyalty programs can help with rewards and other incentives. Rewards can be used to encourage referrals, reviews, and social sharing; all possible sources of high-quality leads.
- When you're trying to gain traction at startup: At early stages an e-commerce business can be especially vulnerable and a loyalty program with highly engaging rewards can give your store that boost you need to get off the ground. If successful, every new customer to your loyalty program can be an advocate for your brand which can set you on the right path for growth. Rewards can be used to target reviews and program registration, two very important early goals to enable such goals.
- When you want to amplify or substitute paid ads: paid ads are a powerful source of leads in e-commerce, but many would consider them expensive, often seeking alternatives. Loyalty programs as conversion and retention tools, can support your paid ads by increasing your conversion potential. Driving leads to your e-commerce store can be expensive and sometimes those leads may produce high bounce rates. With incentive-driven rewards, we are able to improve our ability to capture and retain customers to stretch their value.
- When you are trying to reclaim lost customers: The past is a great source of proven value. We have seen numerous examples of businesses that had been in operation for years that had customers who were effectively ignored. It wasn’t until they realized how many customers they’ve let loose, that they decided to reclaim that hidden value. They didn’t know just how many customers were open to the idea of a loyalty program. A strong loyalty app provides an active connection to customers and a means of reaching out to them.
- When you are looking for more control: Control is a major issue in e-commerce commonly seen with new companies. Loyalty integrations elevate the user experience but more importantly, they create better more influential marketing tools. These tools give you the ability to implement countless variations using numerous options. The main message here is how these tools can enable you to create incentives, which may be difficult with alternatives like universal discounts.
- Building a brand identity and extending your product: The most creative loyalty programs create deep value for customers that is capable of elevating your brand. Differentiating your business is a struggle and having the means to create a relationship with shoppers and to keep that bond strong long-term is a strategic victory. Below is how 12 brands created this effect!
12 Examples of Customer Loyalty Programs
One of the cleanest, sweetest deals around is the Black Card by Box Raw.
It's stylish, desirable, and really well-built. This loyalty program combines awesome rewards and great presentation. The Black Card covers everything you need, so it would be a wise example to follow. Box Raw tops this list for its sleek design and completeness.
Why we love it:
- Their visuals are stunning
- Their widget is flawless
- Their program is loaded with perks
- The program is simple to use and well-explained
Elevated Experience with Widgets:
They have a widget that falls seamlessly onto your page. Shoppers have a easy way to access their benefits without having to leave the page. This improves the page's overall functionality and user experience. Widgets are a great idea and could prove to be a key component of your customer loyalty program.
Just like in most competitions, we use precious metals to define classes, and this fitness brand successfully relates to the culture. Box Raw recognizes its customer base and these small things really add up, and the sound of “Black Card” is low-key awesome. Besides the clever design, their tiers are loaded with perks and the rewards are really engaging.
Clear and Instructive:
The way that Box Raw explains the process and demonstrates the benefits is outstanding. They make their program clear and simple. Style and layout is an important element that can help cultivate a positive impression. Remember that the clearer your message, the simpler the decision.
Progress Bar and Free Points:
Box Raw offers hundreds of points before you even make your first purchase and tracks your milestone until your next upgrade. You can easily tell where your progress meter rests and the sort of perk you will receive at each stage. Another reason why the Black Card is winning on customer appeal.
Complete FAQ Section:
Box Raw features a complete FAQ section for its loyalty program, making it easier to find the answers you're looking for. Apart from the benefit it has for the customer, a FAQ section can alleviate some of the stress from customer service; squashing the issue before it buds.
Nike is unmatched in consumer engagement because they extend their loyalty program into lifestyle. The name is reputable, the consumer base is massive and the community is interactive. Nike checks all the boxes for loyalty program excellence. Let’s break it down why.
Why we love it:
- The Nike loyalty program focuses on lifestyle and community
- They provide one of the broadest options for rewards and exclusive offers
- They build ways for customer to enjoy their products through activities
- They offer a whole suite of apps that complement their core product line
Great Communication and Community-Centric:
Loyalty programs need encouraging rewards to be effective. Nike has some of the best rewards on our list because they know exactly what customers enjoy and are able to create extended value for their products. You can tell that they have successfully built a community of loving shoppers and found great ways to retain them. These sorts of engaging rewards work to complement your products and give them purpose.
A Complementary App Suite:
The apps that belong to the Nike suite are all about extending the utility of their products into lifestyle and community. They provide a highly interactive and engaging experience to their already massive customer list. Their product is built around fitness and their loyalty program focuses on the same message.
Lululemon is a brand built around recognition and self-betterment. To prove their caring they had to build value in ways that went beyond their in-store experience. What really honed this brand's message was its pivot towards loyalty membership. They’ve introduced benefits that extend beyond ordinary discounts, offering studio workout sessions and recorded routines. That’s some progressive thinking! Keeping active is how they keep their customers coming back and that is the difference maker.
Why we Love it:
- Lululemon tries to build a culture of health with its loyalty program
- They embody their lifestyle by giving you a place to use their products
- They made highly desirable rewards by knowing their customers' intention
4. Massimo Dutti
FEEL provides a one-of-a-kind experience; a memorable and deeply sensational loyalty program. You can almost smell the leather through the computer screen. There is a sense of exclusivity and a strong connection between loyal shoppers and the product. They focus on quality and exclusivity as the foundation of their program.
- They cultivate a sense of exclusivity for their dedicated customers
- They speak to their customers on a subliminal level and understand their reasons
- They make their customers feel special by making them stand out as special
This particular program is definitely non-traditional, but it serves as an amazing example of creativity at play. They make a promise of exclusivity and first-class service. They also provide all their members with early access to discounts and limited edition items. They also incorporated events by offering special access and private visits. This would seem like a natural focal point for a luxury brand.
Special Treatment and Exclusivity:
For a luxury brand, customers have different expectations. They have the money, what they want is exclusivity and special treatment. Massimo Duttiy successfully identified the particular preferences of their dedicated customers. Although their program is not as interactive as other loyalty programs in this list, they have taken a less traveled road which is something their customers happen to enjoy.
Chipotle Rewards is a return to the standard loyalty program, which seeks to reward consistent consumers. Chipotle has a strong retention power which guides their loyalty program and proves its utility. This sort of program is primarily focused on the customer experience. Amongst the several rewards, it offers a free product once the customer hits a specific point threshold and celebrates their birthday with a gift. It also provides extra points for purchases made on certain days and multiplier bonuses for trying new items on the company's menu.
Why we Love it:
- Free items are a great bonus for loyal customers because it is a very direct way to improve customer expectations.
- They promote menu diversity by giving more points for trying new items, which we consider a clever way to meet a managerial goal.
- It’s clear that the purpose of this particular loyalty program is to promote their organizational goals. Which makes it mutually beneficial for business and customers.
6. Sephora's Beauty Insider
A luxury cosmetics brand, Sephora, is well-equipped in the way it crafts its loyalty programs.
For a luxury brand, it’s important to maintain the value of your product, and discounts can cheapen customer perception. Instead, the program focuses on experiences, such as free beauty classes, makeovers, and an insider community. Another great thing to mention is the Rewards Bazaar, which enables the customer to choose the reward to their liking among various options. In turn, it gives the participants freedom and control over what they get.
Why we love it:
- Sephora romanticizes its relationship with customers, delivering dreams and experiences
- They enrich their image by offering a feature-loaded program with endless rewards and great progression
- They avoid making their program about discounts and preserve the value of their brand and products
7. Uber's Uber Rewards
Uber Rewards being one of the first ride-hailing apps in the market has successfully retained their customer loyalty with reward progression. While they do not necessarily offer major discounts, they offer rewards that improve their customer experience and satisfaction scores. Notable services include price protections from rush hour price surges, flexible cancellations with refunds, and priority pickups at airports. It would seem like Uber hears what customers want and implements feedback to improve their rewards.
- Uber is a popular improvement to city life and has become central to people's lives, almost to a level of dependency. They have implemented a loyalty program that rewards loyalty and makes it fair for users
- The rewards, although non-financial, create a clear benefit for customers with excellent progression in rewards
- Since rewards are functional, they improve the usability of their app and customer satisfaction as well
8. The Body Shop
As an ethical beauty company, The Body Shop does well to mix its brand into its loyalty program. They do so by allowing the customers to donate their rewards from purchases to many of the brand's partner charities.
- Their rewards are charity-oriented, which solidifies the company's image as being socially conscious. It also co-opts the customers as a part of that image, enabling them to support the cause through association
- They have a clear idea of who they want their customers to be and speak to them directly with their rewards, crystal clear communication
- They use their loyalty program to provide assurance in their values and to enforce their commitment to their values
9. H & M
H&M is a major global brand with a huge customer base, but it’s not so simple. There is a lot of competition in apparel and one of the keys to success is customer loyalty. It’s obvious why H&M puts so much effort into its loyalty program. They’re a prime example of a loyalty program, so let’s probe the reasons why. There are numerous special touches that H&M uses that elevate their loyalty program to another level.
- They did very well to build a sense of exclusivity, offering features only available to a specific group of members.
- They made it rewarding to enroll with a first purchase reward.
- They have a mobile app, a major factor.
- They used their loyalty program to push their strategic goals.
Focus on Customer Satisfaction:
H&M is already a household brand and this loyalty program is low-impact and all benefits. They used a few clever tricks to push the needle in their favor, making the online shopping experience as good if not better than the in-person experience. Not only are the perks of membership worthwhile, it isn’t very difficult to acquire “Plus Membership”. Is the H&M loyalty program worth it? Yes! 10/10.
Shoppers in general love exclusivity, limited editions, and special offers. Programs that offer these sorts of elevated experiences, go above and beyond your average loyalty program. There is a meaningful treat for dedicated shoppers and this makes it worthwhile pursuing the “plus” membership. This goes down as one of those programs that are really about the loyalty members.
Mobile App and Clear Instructions:
Another major factor about the H&M loyalty program is the Mobile App. Customers adore an easy shopping experience. There is no better improvement to the shopper's online experience than mobile apps. Overall, this is a program worth checking out for inspiration.
Mango successfully takes a unique spin on the classical loyalty program. Nothing is ordinary about this program. It gives off a humane and caring impression, true to the meaning of real loyalty.
- They have the most unique and encouraging rewards; donations to NGOs, free music, and cinema tickets. Outside of the typical theme entirely.
- The first brand we’ve found that puts sustainability into their program. You can collect points by recycling old clothing, something no one else is doing on this list.
- They successfully made a warm and outstanding loyalty program with their “likes” and features.
Cinema lovers will agree that an AMC loyalty program is a must-have. Movies fans can appreciate how awesome this program is. It just makes perfect sense that your favorite local theater should be thinking about you between visits. AMC offers some of the coolest perks for cinephiles. They treat loyalty members with real priority and create a really exciting offering at each tier.
- Loyalty Programs for services are uncommon and this puts a smile on our face.
- Membership is a super easy choice, it makes the overall movie-going experience better.
- This lands right at home for movie lovers and makes it an easy and fun occasion every time.
12. The North Face
The North Face brand has always been associated with nature and durable cold-weather clothing. It was important for them to represent their cause and that's exactly how they made their loyalty program stand out for us.
- They have an “actually” worth it mobile app, which gives its users special access to parks and monuments.
- They encourage bringing in your own reusable bags to shop and even reward it with points.
- They allow field testing of your purchase and even offer exclusive products.
The examples above demonstrate the best qualities of the best loyalty programs in e-commerce. By now you should have a vivid idea of how to build your own customer loyalty program. There is so much value in e-commerce and more so in customer loyalty. Many underestimate the value of loyalty programs, but there is so much untapped value in building bonds and creating lasting impressions. We believe that true value is found in customer loyalty and we also consider it to be a universal goal for any business.
Growave can help you build a dynamic and engaging loyalty program, and drive customer retention. Every one of the examples given above can be built with a robust integration like Growave. If you're interested in implementing your own unique loyalty program, we encourage you to get in touch with one of our representatives or check out the official Shopify app store for more.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you brand your loyalty program.
Branding is an essential, all loyalty programs should have the ability to customize your program. This could mean any number of things like, naming your rewards, the rewards you choose or the way the app features in your store. Always opt for a program that offers customizable features.
How do you install a Loyalty Program?
Loyalty programs usually have a short onboarding process that jump-starts your program. Afterward, you have unlimited access to an admin panel to control the details of your program. With Shopify all you need to do is install the app and follow the on-screen instructions. You should expect analytics, branding, emails and multiple other features when you install a loyalty app.
How hard are Loyalty Programs to manage?
Modern Loyalty Programs are built with users in mind. They Require some basic math, a good program will have clear instructions and an easy-to-use administrative panel. You should look for a program with a modern admin panel and organized settings.
How do you optimize your Loyalty Program?
It may be worthwhile to assess your customer base and competitors before choosing which rewards to enable. There isn't one clear answer, but depending on your objectives you may find certain rewards more valuable, such review rewards for social proof or follows on social media. You can also control your point values and which products to discount to improve turnover rates. Branding and exlcusivity have shown positive effects on customer interactions. There are multiple ways you can find an advantage.
What are the benefits of Loyalty Programs?
They are linked to lower customer acquisition costs, increased average order value, and lifetime value of customers. They are considered robust ecommerce marketing tools. Loyalty programs are also databases of all your members that can be used in combination with emails to re-market shoppers.
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Mission: Loyalty – Most Innovative Loyalty Program Ideas to Stand Out
Get inspired by innovative loyalty program ideas in just 5 minutes in Mission: Loyalty Episode 1 – Innovative Loyalty Program Ideas.
If there’s anything I’ve learned since becoming a secret agent for loyalty programs , it is that nothing tops the power of an innovative idea. As such, I dedicated my very first mission to this concept, exploring four loyalty program ideas that will put a unique spin on your loyalty program.
With so much competition out there, and so many loyalty programs, these ideas will help you stand out and get noticed. We also refer to some innovative loyalty programs that are leading the way. Watch the video, then read our article for even more insights that will help you launch a more innovative rewards program for the benefit of your customers — and your business.
Grab your spy sunglasses and join the first investigation of Mission: Loyalty. Watch the video for innovative loyalty program ideas. Prefer to read?
Hi everyone, and welcome back to Mission: Loyalty, your best connection for loyalty insights.
As a customer, loyalty means that you stick to what you know and love. But as a company, loyalty is all about being innovative and trying new ideas, so customers get what they love without having the chance to get bored.
Nobody likes being bored.
So I’ve got another mission for you: make your loyalty program an innovative one! There are a few reasons why you won’t regret keeping your loyalty program fresh.
First of all, giving customers a reason to come back means they won’t have a chance to forget their login details.
And… it’s an opportunity to stand out from your competition.
As Phil Shelper, the author of the book “Loyalty Programs: The Complete Guide” says: “In truth, most loyalty programs are utterly boring and unadventurous.”
Harsh words! He goes on to say “A best-practice loyalty program stimulates member enthusiasm to engage by continually experimenting, innovating and taking risks. So, ultimately, a loyalty program should be seductive.”
So don’t be boring and unadventurous. Take a walk on the wild side!
So here are three ways to unleash your innovation. And for each tip I share, I’ll also share some inspiring loyalty programs. And if you’re lucky, maybe I’ll even throw in a bonus tip.
So, number one; test, optimize, and impress!
There’s a little company called Starbucks… you’ve probably heard of them before. In fact, they were cited as one of the MOST INSPIRING LOYALTY PROGRAMS in our recent Global Customer Loyalty Report. And for good reason!
First of all, their mobile app connects the convenience of ordering with the fun experience of the loyalty program. They’re also continually trying new things, including in-app games. Or, for example, in Seattle, they’re incorporating sustainability into their loyalty program where customers can get stars for participating in their test of reusable cup scheme.
So they aren’t afraid to analyze and optimize.
The second way is to offer experiential rewards.
So when planning your reward catalog, think “memorable experiences”.
Today’s customers tend to prefer experiences over physical items.
And loyalty programs are the perfect vehicle for brands to deliver those experiences.
Now allow me to get into the research here. According to our Loyalty Intel 65.2% of current loyalty program owners NOT offering experiential rewards said they plan to introduce this feature within the next three years.
So experiences are on the roadmap for many companies and we’re likely to see more of them in the short- and mid-term.
A true leader in experiential rewards is Marriott Bonvoy with their “moments” rewards.
With events across culinary, arts lifestyle, sports, and entertainment, they offer enough of a variety for their large and diverse member base.
The third way is to create a meaningful bond.
For many consumers, what a brand STANDS FOR is just as important as what kind of rewards they offer.
UK beer retailer BrewDog is a top dog in this space. They’re super dedicated to being environmentally friendly and they want their customers to know that they are on Mother Nature’s side.
They communicate it well through their loyalty program. When customers purchase a certain number of BrewDog’s carbon-negative beer cans, members earn a “Drink BrewDog, Kill Carbon” badge.
They also do loads of challenges with fun new badges to keep it fresh, and use members-only offers to keep members excited about being a part of the program.
So follow their lead and innovate by making your loyalty program connect with customers on a social basis.
I can’t resist a fourth bonus tip. So another way to keep things fresh is to GO LIVE!
Live communities and streaming are great channels for making the experience feel real for customers.
In fact, according to Salesforce, 73% of marketers already use livestream video, and 57% use virtual customer communities.
So start thinking about how you can record unique brand experiences and bring members closer to your team and operations.
Thank you so much for watching today.
My agents have included a few resources in the description that dive into detail about each of the loyalty programs I mentioned today.
And, if you’re ready to learn more about Antavo’s Enterprise Loyalty Cloud, visit antavo.com to see our product videos and documentation , or to request a demo of our platform.
How Much Does Innovation Matter?
For most brands, loyalty programs are about encouraging customers to return as frequently as possible. That’s why brands need to create an experience that interests their customers. It’s also why brands should continue to innovate and update through the years. A set-it-and-forget-it approach is rather dull. Once customers feel they’ve seen and done it all, they won’t have a reason to re-engage with your program. That’s downright dangerous!
Every new change is an opportunity to stand apart from your competition.
Phil Shelper , author of Loyalty Programs: The Complete Guide says, “In truth, most loyalty programs are utterly boring and unadventurous.” It’s safe to say that Phil isn’t a fan of the carbon copy approach. But he also looks at the positive side, saying, “A best-practice loyalty program stimulates member enthusiasm to engage by continually experimenting, innovating and taking risks.”
There you have it! This is your chance to take a risk and experiment. Below, you’ll find several ideas to get you started on the path to innovation.
If you need assistance in creating your loyalty program concept feel free to download our worksheet to make the planning process smoother.
Test, Optimize, and Impress – Like Starbucks
You may have heard of a little coffee company called Starbucks . Their loyalty program has quite a reputation, and every change in the program seems to make the headlines in business news. Starbucks Rewards was also named one of the most inspiring loyalty programs in the 2022 Global Customer Loyalty Report.
There’s a good reason for this. First of all, their mobile app connects the convenience of ordering with the fun experience of the loyalty program. The coffee chain was one of the first companies to do so. Even more importantly, however, Starbucks has never gotten comfortable with their success. They continue to introduce new features, like new rewards, in-app games, and campaigns to their loyalty program to keep customers interested in more than just a caffeine fix.
One such campaign is a new reusable cup bonus that the company has launched. This is a smart move because according to Loyalty360, 70% of customers want to know how the brands they support are addressing social and environmental issues . Tying sustainability initiatives to a loyalty program is a great way to show your efforts and encourage customers to participate.
So the coffee chain isn’t afraid to analyze current features in their program, test new features in key markets, and optimize their program continually . Now, here are some loyalty program ideas that you can take from Starbucks’ own innovations.
Tips to Try in Your Own Program:
- Approach your loyalty program with a mindset of continual experimentation and improvement — A/B testing features can help you try new initiatives and understand how your customers are engaging with them while minimizing risk
- Test and optimize elements of your loyalty program, including the loyalty logic, individual rewards, campaign engagement, and gamified features
- Combine transactional and non-transactional features and campaigns to offer a good experience for customers at all stages of loyalty
- Test new innovations in key markets before launching them to the larger public
Offer Experiential Rewards – Like Marriott
Today’s customers tend to prefer experiences over physical items. Loyalty programs are the perfect way to deliver those experiences, especially as part of a varied rewards catalog.
In our Global Customer Loyalty Report , 65.2% of loyalty program owners that don’t yet offer experiential rewards said they plan to introduce this feature within the next three years. So experiences are on the roadmap for many companies. We’re likely to see more of them in the short- and mid-term. Another frequent statistic concerns Millennials’ and Gen Z’s preference for spending money on experiences rather than products. So, if brands can provide more experiences within the loyalty program, customers will likely see that as an irresistible added value.
There are a lot of great leaders in the experiential rewards space — specifically in hotel loyalty programs — but one of them is Marriott Bonvoy with their “ Moments ” rewards. With events across culinary, arts lifestyle, sports, and entertainment, they offer enough of a variety for their large and diverse member base.
Read more about their program here , or emulate what they do with the following ideas:
- When planning your rewards catalog, try to incorporate memorable experiences
- If your customer base has a diverse range of interests, include different experiences to appeal to more customers – even if you’re not offering them all simultaneously
- Work with partners to offer a wider range of experiences but ensure they still align with your brand and strategy
- In addition to out-of-the-box experiences, offer rewards that make the
Create a Meaningful Bond with Customers – Like BrewDog
For many consumers, what a brand stands for is just as important as what kind of products and rewards they offer. That’s why brands need to understand what makes their customers tick, and connect with them based on their passions and interests.
UK beer retailer BrewDog is a top dog in this space. Not only have they achieved carbon-negative status and invested heavily in global sustainability, they aren’t afraid to show that they’re on Mother Nature’s side – even in their loyalty program, which is powered by Antavo.
When members purchase a minimum number of BrewDog’s carbon-negative cans of beer, they earn a “Drink BrewDog, Kill Carbon” badge. They also do loads of challenges with fun new badges to keep it fresh and use members-only offers to keep members excited about participating in the program.
- Use challenges to gamify the experience and engage customers who want to show their dedication to causes that your brand aligns with
- Consider using community groups within the loyalty program to focus on specific segments of customers, based on their interests
- Incorporate sustainability and CSR into your rewards program, so customers can work to do good alongside your brand — lifestyle loyalty programs are a great way to go
Try New Technology – Add Livestreams to Your Strategy
Live streaming is a great way to make the brand experience feel real for customers. Popular already for many years in China and across Asia, the trend is picking up speed globally. Not only is it a good way to connect with current customers, live streaming has the potential to get your brand and products in front of new consumers’ eyes, if you find the right balance of retail and entertainment.
According to an analysis by McKinsey, by 2026, live-commerce-initiated sales could account for up to 20 percent of global e-commerce. So, if you haven’t already, start thinking about how you can record unique brand experiences and bring members closer to your team and operations.
@daviddobrik #ChipotleLidFlip @chipotle #ad ♬ Flip – Future
Chipotle chose another route to engage with customers via digital content. The company wanted to have “conversations” with their customers, be a part of their culture, and encourage brand advocacy. As such, they chose Tiktok as their go-to platform.
Shoppable livestreams, in particular, have a lot of potential in the retail world, as they give customers unique insight into products and help to answer important questions. That can help retailers reduce product returns and meet new sustainability standards. According to Coresight founder and CEO Deborah Weinswig, “returns are 50% lower when items are bought in a livestream”.
- Use livestream to drive interest in the loyalty program, as a way to keep in touch with new customers or potential customers who find your stream
- Treat livestream like your loyalty program and offer special “stream-only” campaigns
- Offer special members-only livestreams for special sales, members-only event launches, or influencer meet-and-greets — members-only livestream offers and entertainment can be positioned as a special benefit for free or paid loyalty programs
Use These Innovative Loyalty Program Ideas in Your Strategy
We hope these loyalty program ideas help you to take the next creative step in your own rewards program. By continually optimizing your program and keeping it fresh, including experiential rewards in your rewards catalog, and creating a bond with customers based on common interests and initiatives, you’ll be able to create a program that stands out from the crowd of points-and-discounts loyalty programs. And by incorporating rising technology like livestreaming, you’ll be able to connect with new customers and help cultivate an even larger loyal customer base.
Ready to create or revamp your own innovative loyalty program? Our experts are happy to discuss your ideas and share how Antavo’s technology can help your business. Feel free to book a demo or include us in your RFP .
Jess is a Loyalty Program Analyst and a Certified Loyalty Marketing Professional - CLMP, helping companies learn more about customer retention strategies, so they can launch successful loyalty programs. She has been writing about loyalty since 2016. Jess also enjoys ballet, travel, learning languages, and carrying out secret missions for loyalty intel.
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13 Brilliant Customer Loyalty Program Examples
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Table of contents.
Loyal customers are arguably one of the most valuable assets any brand can have. Not only are current customers more affordable than acquiring new ones, but loyal customers typically spend more and generate larger transactions. In fact, 57% of consumers spend more on brands to which they are loyal. * Operating a successful customer loyalty program isn’t always easy, but it’s one of the best ways to attract, engage, and satisfy your customers.
Continue reading to discover the importance of customer loyalty, see what customers look for in loyalty programs, and learn from brands that are doing it right. Or, skip to our infographic to learn the best practices of customer loyalty programs.
What Are Customer Loyalty Programs?
A customer loyalty program is a strategy designed to encourage repeat business, where a brand offers its customers rewards, discounts, and other incentives in order to attract and retain their business. These programs are designed to build loyalty, and it pays off when done well.
A points-based program is the most common type of loyalty program. They let customers accumulate points with their purchases which they can redeem for free products and other perks. Some points programs even allow customers to earn points through other ways like leaving reviews, sharing posts on social media, having a birthday, and so on.
A tier-based loyalty program is where a customer will get different benefits depending on their rank. The higher a customer is ranked, the better their rewards will be. To get to a higher tier and earn exclusive rewards, customers need to buy and engage more with a brand. Businesses will then rank their customers based on sales metrics and engagement.
A paid loyalty program is when a customer receives immediate and continuous benefits once they pay a recurring or one-time fee. If a company can convince consumers of the value of their program, it can build higher customer value. A 2020 survey reported that consumers are 60% more likely to spend more on a brand after subscribing to a paid loyalty program. * If a customer is paying for a loyalty membership, they’ll want to get as much out of the program as possible.
What Do Customers Want From a Loyalty Program?
While loyalty programs are a great way to retain loyal customers, they are also a great way to acquire new ones . In fact, 75% of consumers say they would switch brands for a better loyalty program. * With that being said, it begs the question: What do customers really want from a loyalty program?
- Enticing rewards : Customers want offerings like free products and discounts as rewards for their loyalty.
- Exclusive deals : Consumers want offerings like free shipping or exclusive access to sales, making them an honored customer.
- Hassle-free usage : Customers want hassle-free programs with limited maintenance to make it easy to sign up and use.
Customer Loyalty Points Program Examples
1. starbucks: starbucks rewards.
For most people, coffee and other caffeinated beverages are a part of the morning commute, so they may as well get in on a loyalty program that’ll reward their caffeine cravings. The Starbucks Rewards program does just that by bringing customers closer to free drinks and food with every purchase. To earn loyalty points (or, in Starbucks’ case, loyalty stars), customers need to order or pay using the Starbucks app. They can then redeem those stars to get free drinks, food, and even Starbucks merchandise.
2. The North Face: XPLR Pass
In the outdoor apparel and gear industry, it’s fair to say that most of their customers value experiences over material items.
The North Face allows their loyal XPLR Pass members to earn points by purchasing merchandise or attending special events, whichever works for the specific customer’s lifestyle.
When it comes to redeeming their points, customers can use their points towards unique travel experiences such as a mountain climbing trip in Nepal.
Customer Loyalty Tier Program Examples
3. designer shoe warehouse: dsw vip.
While earning points in exchange for discounts and free products is effective, adding in a tier program helps gamify the experience by allowing customers to unlock new levels of higher-value benefits for spending more on the brand.
Designer Shoe Warehouse’s (DSW) loyalty program is the perfect example of a successful tier-based program. By spending more, customers access higher tiers that offer exclusivity to different products and services.
This motivates their customers in lower tiers to spend more so that they can attain these higher tiers of exclusivity.
4. Sephora: Beauty Insider
With Sephora’s Beauty Insider program, customers can earn points for every purchase they make and redeem those points for rewards of their choosing — usually in the form of samples or exclusive merchandise — via the Rewards Bazaar.
Not only do members get to choose their own rewards, but they also receive access to the Beauty Insider Community, where beauty lovers can share tips, advice, and all the new products that they love.
With its tier structure, customers can earn better and better rewards for their loyalty, even gaining access to exclusive events at the highest tier. Plus, higher-tiered customers receive bigger discounts during sales events.
5. Uber: Uber Rewards
Although the ridesharing industry is fairly new, Uber has gone above and beyond taking over the industry. They offer a variety of services that cater to just about any individual’s specific needs as well as a loyalty program that’s very valuable.
When you become an Uber Rewards member, you earn points with every eligible dollar spent on rides and UberEats orders. These points can then add up to Uber Cash Rewards and other benefits like priority pickup and flexible cancellation.
6. Alaska Airlines: Mileage Plan
Whether you are a frequent business flyer or have a love for traveling, joining an airline’s customer loyalty program is a must. While basically every airline has a rewards program, Alaska Airlines’ award-winning Mileage Plan does it best.
Alaska’s Mileage Plan is a tier-based program that lets customers earn miles, experience award travel, and gain their top-tier MVP elite status faster than any other airline.
7. Expedia: Expedia Rewards
From flights to hotel rooms, Expedia offers a way to save money while traveling. With their rewards program, Expedia Rewards, members save an average of $35 per booking with the points they earn.
The more you travel, the more points and rewards you get with their three-tier program. From 10% savings with Blue member status to free upgrades and spa credits with Gold status, customers can achieve luxurious travel perks at an affordable price.
8. Chick-fil-A: Chick-fil-A One
If there’s one fast food restaurant that knows how to rack up the sales, it’s Chick-fil-A. With $13.7 billion in system-wide sales in 2020 * , other brands may wonder how they do it.
A big part of their success can be attributed to their loyalty program, Chick-fil-A One, which boasts 13 million active users. * With its enticing benefits like free treats, convenient drive-thru experiences, and opportunities to gain exclusive rewards, customers keep coming back for more.
Customer Loyalty Paid Program Examples
9. amazon: amazon prime.
A well-known paid membership program that completely changed the game is Amazon Prime. By paying an annual fee, Prime members get access to free two-day shipping on millions of products as well as access to their video streaming service.
While big retailers like Walmart and Target are main competitors, Prime memberships are how Amazon differentiates themselves from other similar brands.
Online shopping offers the convenience of shopping directly from your device in the comfort of home. Free shipping makes it just as affordable as traditional in-store shopping.
10. REI Co-op: Co-op Membership
Although the main point of a customer loyalty program is to convince customers to spend more money on a brand, the best customer loyalty programs drive real value to their customers.
REI’s Co-op Membership program does just that by allowing customers to gain access to rewards from 10% back on all purchases to discounts on experiences like adventure trips and classes — all for a $20 lifetime membership.
11. GrubHub: GrubHub+
The convenience of getting food delivered straight to your door is unmatched, but the delivery fees tend to add up pretty quickly if done too often.
GrubHub recognized that and now offers their monthly subscription called GrubHub+, where users get unlimited free delivery on eligible orders and exclusive rewards. They even offer a donation match program where customers can opt to donate their change to charity and GrubHub will match every cent.
Customer Loyalty Value Program Examples
12. ben & jerry’s: flavor fanatics.
There’s nothing sweeter than an ice cream loyalty program, but Ben & Jerry’s adds the cherry on top with a strong social mission. By signing up for their Flavor Fanatics rewards program, customers can get 10% off every purchase along with extra perks like free cones and insider scoop.
Along with rewards like discounts and free birthday cones, Ben & Jerry’s also advocates for social justice with special flavors like Save Our Swirled! for the global climate movement and I Dough, I Dough for marriage equality.
Not only do they have social justice-themed flavors, but they also donate sales to charities that support the environment, social programs, animal welfare, and other causes.
13. The Body Shop: Love Your Body Club
The ethical beauty brand The Body Shop believes that business can be a force for good. So when they developed their loyalty program, they made it easy for customers to gain rewards while also having the option to donate.
As a member of their Love Your Body Club, customers earn a point for every dollar spent. Once they’ve reached 100 points, they’ll get a $10 reward to spend. However, customers have the option to donate their $10 reward to one of their charity partners.
Make it Personal With Your Loyal Customers
A customer loyalty program is a great way to attract and retain repeat customers as it encourages engagement, increases customer retention rates, and helps brands gain valuable insights on their customers.
To help build your relationship even more, make each interaction personal and valuable, starting with individualized emails and product recommendations so customers get exactly what they are looking for.
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Are you aware that it is a lot easier to sell your product to an existing customer than to a new one? That is because your current customers already know what you have to offer, and they’re already passionate about your brand. That’s why a comprehensive membership management system is very much essential to retain loyal customers. There’s a lot of competition in the market today. But, you don’t need to worry because you can still keep winning your existing customers with a loyalty program. The right membership software can help you offer the best and most unforgettable loyalty program for your customers.
A loyalty program could be one of the most effective ways to retain your existing customers while attracting new ones. Many companies are now adopting the best membership system that is flexible for every member and allows them to create unique promotions. However, many are still contemplating the pricing scheme calculations . If you don’t have an idea about what kind of loyalty program you will offer yet, check out some of these creative loyalty programs to get inspired. Other than that, you can always use the help of a sophisticated membership management system .
Table Of Content
1. sephora’s beauty insider, 2. my starbucks rewards, 3. amazon prime, 4. tokopoints by tokopedia, 5. e.l.f.’s beauty squad, 6. toms one for one, 7. the north face.
Sephora offers one of the most innovative loyalty programs ever through Beauty Insider. The program serves more than 17 million loyal members from various countries, and they make up as much as 80 percent of Sephora’s annual sales.
Customers swipe their Beauty Insider card at every purchase, and then the card tracks the amount of money spent. Every dollar spent generates one Beauty Insider point. Customers can redeem their rewards points for things like discounts, limited edition products, gift cards, or even free beauty classes. Sephora also offers VIB and VIB Rouge programs. Those programs provide customers more prizes if they spend more money at Sephora for more loyal customers . This means that the rewards can be scaled up according to how much money customers spend.
Also read: 7 Ways to Maintain Customer Loyalty During COVID-19
Nowadays, providing loyalty programs through mobile apps has become very common, but it was a fresh idea when Starbucks launched My Starbucks Rewards.
To get loyalty points, customers must order or pay using the Starbucks app. By centralizing customer transactions, Starbucks can automatically store all important information of their customers . This can make them easily provide personalized promotions and rewards according to the customers’ preferences and behavior. If your store has a mobile app that records customer data, then that’s great. Otherwise, you can still collect and centralize your customer data through an advanced Point of Sale system . This system acts the same as a loyalty app; it records important customer information such as their favorite products, their shopping frequency, funny 40th birthday gifts , credit card information, and many more.
Amazon is famous for its Prime loyalty program. Customers who are members of Prime get access to unlimited free two-day shipping on millions of items, as well as other benefits that Amazon has added such as their streaming service and Prime Day sales.
Amazon faces heavy competition from other retailers like Walmart. Products sold on Amazon can also be found elsewhere. What distinguishes Amazon from other online retailers is the loyalty program provided. Through the Prime program, Amazon has increased its repeat sales; Prime loyal members spend an average of $ 1,500 per year on Amazon.com (four times more than other Amazon customers).
Read our related article: 7 Ways to Keep Your Customers Satisfied and Loyal
To increase repeat orders from their loyal customers, Tokopedia, one of Indonesia’s most prominent e-commerce sites, successfully launched its loyalty program called TokoPoints. Although Tokopedia is not the first in Indonesia’s marketplace to provide such a loyalty program, TokoPoints proved to be able to steal the attention of online shoppers, let alone Tokopedia has indeed managed to dominate e-commerce in Indonesia. Through TokoPoints, Tokopedia customers can collect Loyalty and Points either through the site or the app. Points can be redeemed into coupons available in the Katalog Kupon, while Loyalty can level up the membership status (classic, silver, gold, and platinum). The membership benefits can include free shipping, discounts, and cashback.
The process of building consumer loyalty can also be done through email marketing. However, sending email marketing to many consumers will be challenging to implement if you still use the manual method. Therefore, a marketing automation system is a right choice to automate relationships with clients . This system helps companies automatically send marketing emails to multiple recipients, perform SMS marketing, and create custom email templates according to company needs.
e.l.f., a famous cosmetic brand from New York, offers a loyalty program that is not less creative than Sephora’s, which is known as Beauty Squad. e.l.f. understands how to reward their loyal customers properly. A-Lister members (those who have more than 401 points) are given early access to new products and have the opportunity to choose new product colors. Transactional gifts such as personalized sale days and various full-size gifts make e.l.f. ‘ss VIP customers feel valued and special.
TOMS, one of the world’s largest shoe manufacturers and retailers, has chosen another way to offer its loyalty program. They do not give rewards in the form of points or prizes provided by other retailers, but an opportunity to make a real difference on a global scale .
With every purchase of a pair of shoes, TOMS customers earn the non-monetary incentives that allow them to donate shoes to communities in need and share profits with the Wildlife Conservation Society. This proves that a loyalty program does not always have to be in the form of money and can appeal to the customer’s values and sense of worth.
As one of the world’s most prominent outdoor clothing and equipment retailers, The North Face offers a flexible loyalty program that allows their loyal customers to redeem their points with rewards that best suit their lifestyle. Through the VIPeak program, customers can redeem their points in unique ways; from attending The North Face events, checking in at specific locations, and experiencing memorable adventures, such as climbing the Himalayas in Nepal.
The NorthFace’ss rewards are more than encouraging customers to spend more. They are not common discounts on products but curated experiences that help strengthen the relationship between the customers and the brand. You don’t need to award a trip abroad as The North Face does, but you can still create loyalty programs tailored to your customers” characters and lifestyles, which help strengthen the bond between you and them. To make it easier for you to manage your loyalty and membership programs, consider using membership management software . This system can help you manage the membership database in a centralized repository, automate membership updates, offer various membership levels, and personalize the loyalty program you offer. If you are still contemplating which system to use, download the pricing scheme calculations to help you decide!
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7 Customer Loyalty Programs In Retail That Actually Works
7 mins read
In today’s competitive marketplace, building strong customer loyalty has become a game-changer for retailers. And by delivering personalized customer loyalty programs, retailers can deliver a great customer experience in retail .
According to Fortune Business Insights , the global loyalty management market size was valued at $5.29 billion in 2022 and is projected to grow from $6.47 billion in 2023 to $28.65 billion by 2030.
That’s why brands are getting creative with their customer loyalty programs in the retail industry. With the help of customer feedback , they are offering personalized programs that truly hit home with their amazing customers and keep them engaged.
These programs are not just about getting more customers through the door – they’re about building lasting connections with the ones you already have.
So let’s explore the top 7 customer loyalty programs in retail and create a great loyalty program by utilizing customer feedback.
From simple points-based reward systems to fancy tiered structures, from cash-back incentives to fun gamified experiences, there’s something for everyone!
7 Types of Customer Loyalty Programs in Retail
- Points-Based Loyalty Programs
- Tiered Loyalty Programs
- Cashback and Discounts
- Non-Monetary Loyalty Programs
- Coalition Loyalty Programs
- Referral Program
- Membership Loyalty Program
Utilizing Customer Feedback to Enhance Loyalty Programs
- Step 1: Design Comprehensive Surveys and Feedback Forms
- Step 2: Analyze Customer Feedback Data for Customization and Tailoring
- Step 3: Implement Personalization Strategies
- Step 4: Monitor and Evaluate Program Enhancements
1. Points-Based Loyalty Programs
Starbucks has a points-based loyalty program. Customers earn Stars for each purchase made using their registered Starbucks card or mobile app. As they accumulate Stars, they can redeem them for free food, drinks, or other rewards.
IMPACT: This type of loyalty program aims to incentivize repeat purchases and encourage customer loyalty by offering tangible benefits for their continued loyalty.
2. Tiered Loyalty Programs
Sephora, a leading beauty retailer, offers a tiered loyalty program called Beauty Insider . Customers earn points for every dollar spent, and these points determine their loyalty tier: Insider , VIB (Very Important Beauty Insider) , or Rouge . Each tier unlocks various benefits, such as exclusive product launches, birthday gifts, and access to special events.
IMPACT: This tiered structure type of loyalty program encourages customers to spend more to reach higher levels and enjoy enhanced rewards and recognition.
3. Cashback and Discounts
Target’s loyalty program, Target Circle , offers customers personalized deals and discounts based on shopping history and preferences. Members also earn 1% cashback on every purchase, which can be redeemed on future Target purchases.
IMPACT: This combination of discounts and cashback serves as an incentive for customers to shop at Target repeatedly and rewards them for their loyalty.
4. Non-Monetary Loyalty Programs
Costco, a wholesale retailer, operates on a membership model. Customers need to be members to shop at Costco stores and take advantage of their exclusive discounts and bulk-purchase deals. The membership fee contributes to customer loyalty and helps maintain a loyal customer base.
IMPACT: This type of loyalty program relies on customers’ commitment through the membership fee, fostering a sense of belonging and encouraging customers to remain loyal to the brand.
5. Coalition Loyalty Programs
Air Miles is a coalition loyalty program that partners with various companies in different industries, such as airlines, grocery stores, gas stations, and more. Customers can earn Air Miles by making purchases from partner businesses and then redeem those miles for rewards like flights, merchandise, or gift cards.
IMPACT: The coalition approach broadens the earning and redemption opportunities, making the loyalty program more attractive to customers with diverse interests.
6. Referral Program
Dropbox , a cloud storage service, has a referral program that rewards both the referrer and the referred person. When a current user refers someone to sign up for Dropbox, they both receive extra storage space as a reward, incentivizing word-of-mouth marketing and customer loyalty.
IMPACT: This incentive type of loyalty program encourages existing customers to advocate for the service and bring in new users, leading to increased customer loyalty and word-of-mouth marketing.
7. Membership Loyalty Program
This type of loyalty program requires customers to pay a fee to become a member and gain access to exclusive benefits, discounts, or services. For example, Amazon Prime – Amazon’s membership program offers subscribers benefits such as free two-day shipping, access to streaming services, and exclusive deals.
IMPACT: This type of loyalty program is based on a membership model that fosters loyalty by offering convenience and a bundle of valuable services, incentivizing customers to remain loyal to Amazon for their online shopping needs.
These brand examples showcase the diversity and creativity in customer loyalty programs implemented by various retail establishments. Each program is tailored to the brand’s specific offerings, target audience, and marketing objectives.
Listening to your customers is like having a superpower in the retail world. Their feedback is a treasure trove of insights that can help you enhance your loyalty programs and keep your customers coming back for more. So, let’s understand how you can make the most of customer feedback to take your loyalty programs to the next level.
Step 1: Design Comprehensive Surveys and Feedback Forms
To enhance customer loyalty programs, the first step is to design well-structured retail surveys and feedback forms. These surveys should cover a range of relevant topics to collect valuable insights from customers.
The questions should encompass aspects such as:
- overall satisfaction with the current loyalty program
- preferences for rewards and incentives, and
- any pain points or issues they may have encountered.
It’s essential to create user-friendly and easily accessible surveys, ensuring customers can provide feedback conveniently through various channels such as email, website pop-ups, or mobile apps.
Step 2: Analyze Customer Feedback Data for Customization and Tailoring
Once the response starts coming in, it’s time to analyze them.
These valuable insights shed light on what aspects of the loyalty program are working well and which areas require improvement. Tools like SurveySensum’s Text Analytics can help you identify emerging complaints, track customer sentiment, and act in real-time.
This analysis will help you identify common pain points, popular customer requests, and areas of improvement suggested by the customers.
For instance, if customers express a preference for more diverse rewards, you might consider expanding the range of available rewards to cater to different interests.
Similarly, if customers find the joining process confusing, simplifying and streamlining it can significantly enhance their loyalty experience.
Boost Customer Loyalty in Retail with SurveySensum – Request a Demo
Step 3: Implement Personalization Strategies
Now that you know your customer’s expectations, To foster deeper customer loyalty, leverage the data collected from customer feedback to personalize the loyalty program experience and foster deeper customer loyalty.
- Segment customers into different groups based on their preferences and behaviors.
- Offer targeted rewards and incentives that align with each customer segment’s interests.
Step 4: Monitor and Evaluate Program Enhancements
Continuously monitor the loyalty program’s performance to gauge the impact of customer feedback-driven changes. You must track key metrics such as customer retention rates, customer satisfaction scores, and program engagement levels.
This iterative feedback loop enables you to regularly fine-tune the loyalty program, ensuring it remains relevant and effective in meeting customers’ evolving needs and preferences.
By harnessing the power of customer loyalty programs and incorporating feedback-driven improvements, brands can create an ecosystem where customer loyalty thrives.
As customers feel heard and understood, they develop a strong emotional bond with the brand, solidifying their commitment and encouraging long-term brand loyalty.
To sum up, it is the voice of the customer that guides the path to success in retail. By utilizing customer feedback to enhance loyalty programs, retailers can elevate their relationships with customers to new heights and reap the rewards of a dedicated and loyal customer base.
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13 successful & innovative loyalty program examples in 2023.
Discover 13 of the most successful and innovative loyalty program examples and the lessons they offer on how to level-up your loyalty strategy. In this article, you’ll get insight into some of the world’s biggest loyalty programs through 4 simple criteria: the program, the positioning, the perks, and the performance.
Loyalty programs have taken the ecommerce world by storm. 9 in 10 companies now offer some form of customer loyalty program.
The prominence of customer loyalty programs should come as no surprise once you see the data. The statistics spell it out again and again . Customers love loyalty programs and spend more with brands when they’re part of one:
- 79% of consumers are part of at least one loyalty program
- Of these, 75% say they purchase more from these brands
- Top loyalty programs see a 15-25% annual revenue increase from customers who use them
But what makes a loyalty rewards program stand out? What benefits can you offer customers to keep them coming back for more? What lessons can you learn from the world’s most successful loyalty programs?
In this article, you’ll get an in-depth look at 13 of the most successful and innovative loyalty program examples from around the world. Get at-a-glance insights into each program from 4 simple but revealing angles:
- The program: what it is, who offers it, the loyalty mechanism it operates on
- The positioning: how it’s pitched, the alignment with the brand and target audience
- The perks: what it offers members, how it attracts and nurtures loyalty
- The performance: the ROI, the number of sign-ups, the impact on sales (where available)
Loyalty program examples
- Adidas: adiClub
- Rapha: Rapha Cycling Club
- Starbucks: Starbucks Rewards
- The North Face: XPLR Pass
- Lululemon: lululemon membership
- Walmart: Walmart+
- Sephora: The Beauty Insider
- FARFETCH: FARFETCH ACCESS
- H&M: H&M Membership
- IKEA: IKEA Family
- Rakuten: Rakuten Points
- McDonald's: MyMcDonald's Rewards
- Wesfarmers: OnePass
1. Adidas: adiClub
AdiClub is adidas’ free-to-join, point-based loyalty program. AdiClub has been one of adidas’ biggest strategic moves in recent years. The extensive program is the driving force in their DTC shift. AdiClub received the top ranking in the apparel category in Bond’s Loyalty Report in both 2021 and 2022.
AdiClub’s success lies in its perfect alignment with the two core elements of the adidas brand: fashion and sport.
Customers interested in adidas for its style appeal get benefits like early and exclusive access to sneaker and product drops, as well as the opportunity to personalize products.
Customers interested in adidas for its sports heritage get access to community events, adidas Running and Training apps, tickets to sporting games, and meet-and-greets and signed products from adidas-sponsored athletes.
Members of adidas’ adiClub receive points for purchases (10 points for every dollar spent) as well as for adding personal information, leaving reviews, and taking part in adidas events. These points not only work to move customers up a membership tier but can also be used for discounts and vouchers. AdiClub involves 4 levels:
Level 1: customers get free shipping, members-only access to exclusive releases, access to the CONFIRMED app for sneaker drops and Early Access to select drops.
Level 2: customers get the above benefits plus special discounts, 2 months access to the adidas Running and Training apps, and a birthday gift.
Level 3: customers get first access to new products, the ability to personalize products, and priority customer service.
Level 4: customers get all the above rewards, plus tickets to special events, priority access on the CONFIRMED app to win more drops, and 12 months premium access to adidas Running and Training apps. To get to level 4, you need to spend about $1,200 on adidas goods over the course of a year.
Adidas additionally infuses their membership program with other attractive benefits, such as:
- Chances to win adidas box seats at sporting games
- Products signed by some of the world’s biggest athletes
- Access to adidas member’s week, a week full of product drops, exclusive experiences, and rewards
RELATED: 79 Staggering Statistics That Show The Power of Loyalty Programs in 2023
- AdiClub has over 240 million members
- Members buy 50% more often than non-members
- Members have 2x the lifetime value of non-members
RELATED: Ecommerce Loyalty Programs: How to Keep Customers Coming Back For More
2. Rapha: Rapha Cycling Club
Rapha is one of the world’s biggest—and trendiest—cycling apparel brands. Their mission is to make cycling the most popular sport in the world by bringing people together and celebrating cycling.
Their subscription-based loyalty program, Rapha Cycling Club (RCC), is unique in that it combines traditional member benefits (early access, discounts, etc.) with access to global Rapha Clubhouses and a community of like-minded cyclists.
Rapha pitches RCC more like a community than a loyalty program. When members sign up, they’re not just entering a relationship with Rapha, they’re entering a global community of cyclists. As Rapha’s website says “Being a member of the RCC means being part of something bigger – a global riding community with a friendly local spirit. You can feel it at our Clubhouses, on our rides and on the RCC App which connects our members around the globe.”
Like adidas, Rapha’s loyalty program addresses both the fashion and the sporting aspect of their brand. But what’s unique about RCC is that the benefits are about 50% product-focused (discounts, exclusive access, etc.), and 50% connection and community focused (the RCC app, group rides, clubhouses, etc.).
Rapha is ahead of the curve here. In a recent survey of loyalty program owners, 87.5% said they plan to engage with customers in more non-transactional ways.
“We take brand loyalty seriously. We sell premium cycling and lifestyle apparel, but the core of our brand is based around cycling, and strongly supported by our Clubhouse network and the Rapha Cycling Club”
Tristan Watson, Engineering Manager, Rapha
- Organized club rides from 23 Clubhouse and Chapter locations
- Exclusive riding trips and access to fully-supported RCC Summits along with priority access to key Rapha events
- Subsidized members-only Club kit and early access to special editions and brand collaborations
- Clubhouse perks with half-price coffee and subsidized bike hire
- Members-only app to see what's on at Rapha, join rides and connect with fellow members
- Bicycle hire at a reasonable price from premium manufacturers
- RCC has over 23,000 members
- They run over 1,000 group rides every month
To handle massive demand for their product drops and ensure RCC members get first access, Rapha use Queue-it for their high-profile drops.
“Running the sale with Queue-it in place made sure we achieved our goal of delivering an enhanced experience for our loyal members. We gave them the priority access we had promised them as a cornerstone membership benefit.”
Tristan Watson, Engineering Manager
Read the full story
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3. Starbucks: Starbucks Rewards
Starbucks Rewards is another points-based loyalty program, rewarding customers based on the number and value of products they purchase.
But Starbucks Rewards goes beyond your local café’s buy-10-coffees-get-one-free stamp card. It offers personalized benefits, exclusive games, and the ability to pre-load cash for extra points (or “stars” as they call them). With almost 30 million members, it’s likely the most successful café loyalty program of all time.
Starbucks Rewards, like Starbucks itself, is all about simplicity and convenience. Members can save their coffee order, order ahead, pre-load cash onto their account. These make it easier to get your coffee when you want it—fast.
Starbucks executed their loyalty program well, offering straightforward but compelling benefits like free coffee refills, along with more advanced ones like member-only games, for customers who want to engage more.
Surveys show customers want loyalty programs that are easy to use, easy to understand, and offer great discounts. Starbucks Rewards ticks all three boxes.
- Free coffee on sign-up
- Birthday treat
- Free refills on coffee and tea
- Save your coffee order & store location to order ahead and pay on app
- 25 stars: Free customized drink (extra-shot, non-dairy milk, etc.)
- 100 stars: Free iced coffee, croissant, bag of chips, and more
- 200 stars: Free cold brew, lattes, cappuccino, etc. or hot breakfast
- 300 stars: Free sandwich, protein box, or take-home coffee bean bag
- 400 stars: Free piece of merchandise with value of up to $20
- Member-only games that offer exclusive prizes, free food and drinks, etc.
- In 2022, there were 28.7 million active Starbucks Reward members
- This represents 16% year-over-year growth
- “Starbucks Rewards now represents 53% of the spend in our stores, which is at an all-time high, and which is a three-point increase versus fiscal Q1 fiscal 21,” said Kevin Johnson, CEO of Starbucks
RELATED: Customer Loyalty in Ecommerce: The Surprising Benefits of Fairness
4. The North Face: XPLR Pass
XPLR Pass is The North Face’s free-to-join loyalty program. Revamped in 2021, the program includes points but doesn’t have membership tiers like many other points-based programs. Instead, points equate to discounts.
The North Face bridges the gap between fashion and function—and so does their loyalty program. In addition to the perks you’d see in other loyalty programs, The North Face includes invitations to annual member-only XPLR Pass Trail Days , events that include group hikes, activities, lunch and merchandise, and talks from guests and athletes.
Vanessa Christie, the Director of Loyalty and Experiences at The North Face, explains :
“Whether it's a large sweepstakes that enables exploration — like flyaway trips to a mountain — Film Fests that we're sponsoring or other things, we’re also looking for more ways to bring The North Face to life in an experiential way, where you have to be an XPLR Pass member to gain access to the experience.”
The program also aligns itself with climate action by rewarding members who return old products to give them a second life through The North Face Renewed Take Back program. Members can also earn points by checking-in at National Parks and Monuments.
- 1 point for every dollar spent (100 points = a $10 voucher)
- Early and exclusive access to limited-edition collections and collaborations
- 60-day members-only field testing
- Free shipping
- XPLR Pass gifts on birthdays and with purchases
- Exclusive events
- Access to the North Face Renewed Take-Back Program
- The chance to test unreleased products
To ensure XPLR members get first access to these exclusive product drops, The North Face uses Queue-it’s invite-only waiting room . Members get invited to an exclusive queue that puts them ahead of non-members, allowing The North Face to block bots and resellers and incentivize thousands of new sign-ups with every drop.
“[XPLR] members have access to exclusive products. These are our most iconic, most coveted products that usually sell out in less than a day, whether it's Gucci, Kaws, or Online Ceramics, XPLR Pass members get that first."
VANESSA CHRISTIE , DIRECTOR OF LOYALTY AND EXPERIENCES OF THE NORTH FACE
- The North Face had a 54% increase in traffic to the XPLR landing page YoY when the program was launched
- An average of 10k mobile app downloads per month in 2021
5. Lululemon: lululemon membership
Lululemon is unique on this list as it has two types of loyalty programs: one for regular, everyday shoppers; and another exclusively “leaders in sweat” AKA fitness professionals, coaches and leaders.
The standard program, called lululemon membership, is perks-based (no points), and focuses almost entirely on experiential benefits rather than dollar-based savings.
The exclusive program, called The Sweat Collective, is like a small-scale influencer community, offering 25% discounts to verified fitness professionals (studio & gym managers, personal trainers, group fitness instructors, athletes, coaches, and team staff).
Lululemon redefined the activewear product category with its high-quality, made-to-last apparel. The lululemon membership positions itself similarly. Like a luxury brand, it doesn’t offer discounts on products, but instead offers convenience, peace of mind, and good customer service experiences with exclusive benefits like early access to product drops, free hemming, receipt-free returns, and exchanges or credits on sale items.
The Sweat Collective is positioned to reward established members of the fitness community. The 25% off perk is a huge one—especially for a brand that rarely discounts products. It’s clever in that it incentivizes people who are prominent in the fitness space to wear lululemon gear.
The yoga teachers leading 300 people through movements each week. The coaches leading local sporting teams. The personal trainers helping dozens of people get fitter every week. The Sweat Collective helps put visible members of the fitness community in lululemon gear.
- Early access to product drops
- Exchange or credit on sale items
- Select lululemon Studio Classes
- Membership events
- Receipt-free returns
- Free hemming
- Lululemon got 9 million membership sign-ups in 5 months
- Over 30% of members took advantage of at least one of the benefits in that period
6. Walmart: Walmart+
Walmart+ is Walmart’s answer to Amazon Prime. It’s a subscription-based loyalty program with a price tag of $12.95 per month or $98 per year.
Walmart+ makes a big claim on its sign-up page: It’ll save you $1,300+ per year.
The claim aligns perfectly with Walmart’s brand positioning—a low-price retailer—and the values of its customers—saving money. It establishes the program’s value in bold and concrete terms by screaming “you’re leaving money on the table by not signing up!”
- Save up to 10 cents per gallon at several gas stations
- Get free delivery of groceries from their local Walmart store and free delivery from the Walmart marketplace
- Get early access to Black Friday sales, product launches, and other major shopping events
- Get contact-free checkout
- Get assorted other benefits, for example, 6 months free of Spotify premium
- Early access to big sales like Black Friday and product drops
A Consumer Intelligence Research Partners report estimates :
- Walmart+ members spend an average of $79 per online visit, compared to $62 for non-members
- Walmart+ customers shopped an average of 11 more times per year (29 visits) compared with non-members (18)
RELATED: How To Use Scarcity Marketing & Product Drops for Black Friday Success
7. Sephora: The Beauty Insider
Skincare brand Sephora’s loyalty program is a points-based program where benefits are issued according to loyalty tiers. The program has been revamped several times since it was first launched in 2007, with Sephora refining their approach to loyalty.
Allegra Stanley, Sephora’s vice president and general manager of loyalty says :
“The way we think about loyalty is that our clients are the core of everything we do. We are driven by what our customers love and want more of. So it’s not about what their loyalty demonstrates to us, but what we can deliver to our clients that creates the most meaningful and connected experience with our brands.”
Sephora’s Beauty Insider program has three tiers:
- Insider: which is free to join
- Very Important Beauty (VIB): which is achieved after a $350 annual spend
- Rouge: which is achieved after a $1,000 annual spend
The benefits of these tiers are split up into three simple categories:
- Savings: where and how much money customers will save
- Samples: the free and exclusive samples customers will get access to
- Experiences: the exclusive and first access experiences customers get
- Sephora has over 31 million U.S. members
- Members make up to 80% of Sephora’s sales
- An 8.08 score in Newsweek’s best American Loyalty Programs list
In reference to Sephora’s generous birthday gifts, Allegra Stanley, VP of Loyalty at the company said:
“Research has found that almost 75% of what drives customer engagement and loyalty are emotional perks. Now more than ever customers, especially the younger generations, decide to engage with brands based on emotional loyalty drivers.”
RELATED: Improve Your Ecommerce Customer Experience with These 9 CX Strategies
8. FARFETCH: FARFETCH ACCESS
Luxury ecommerce retailer FARFETCH has an extensive loyalty and rewards program called FARFETCH ACCESS. Like an airline, it offers a broad range of benefits based on tiers, which are determined by customer spend.
FARFETCH’s loyalty program aligns with its customer base and brand values. Where Walmart customers are focused on low prices, FARFETCH customers want luxury and exclusivity.
Of particular note is the Private Client access loyalty tier, which is clearly targeted at the upper echelons of the fashion world, offering extensive and desirable benefits to the most valuable of customers. It offers a fashion concierge, a personal stylist, and exclusive invites to events such as the Dior Shanghai exhibition.
FARFETCH ACCESS’ loyalty tiers include:
Bronze access: Achieved after one purchase, entitles you to a welcome reward, a birthday reward, and access to a private members’ sale.
Silver Access: Achieved after $1500 spend. Offers above benefits plus exclusive discounts and free international shipping on 2 orders.
Gold access : Achieved after a $3,000 annual spend. Gold Access members get the same benefits as silver, along with exclusive discounts, exclusive access to designer collections and free worldwide shipping on 4 orders.
Platinum access: Achieved after a $7,500 spend. Offers above benefits plus free international shipping for a year, priority customer care, and extended returns.
Private Client access: Achieved after a massive $15,000 spend. All the above plus a fashion concierge who will find you items unavailable to the general public, and a personal stylist who can offer 1:1 fashion advice around the clock.
RELATED: How Luxury Brands are Creating Elegant Ecommerce Customer Experiences
9. H&M: H&M Membership
H&M’s customer loyalty program is another points-based program, but it only puts customers into one of two tiers. For the H&M membership, H&M has collaborated with Klarna—another Swedish brand popular among Gen Z consumers—to allow members to buy now and pay in 4 installments.
H&M is a low-cost, quick-to-market fashion brand. But it wants to avoid the label of “fast fashion” and highlight its commitment to sustainability.
The H&M Membership addresses the brand’s core appeals by offering predominantly savings and convenience-based benefits, but it emphasizes sustainability by giving members the chance to save more money by recycling clothes and bringing in their own bags.
Standard H&M members get:
- 10% off welcome offer
- 1 point per dollar spent (200 points for $5 voucher)
- Earn points for recycling old clothes
- Earn points for bringing your own bag in-store
- Exclusive offers & discounts
- Birthday treats
- Invite-only shopping events
- Free online returns
- Free shipping over $40
- Monthly giftcard giveaway
- Ability to pay in 4 interest-free installments with Klarna
And plus members get:
- Free shipping on all purchases
- Unique experiences
- Surprise offers
- Special exclusive access to limited-edition collections
- H&M has 120+ million members in 26 markets
- They saw 71% YoY membership growth in 2021
10. IKEA: IKEA Family
IKEA’s IKEA Family is a free, perks-based loyalty program. It may well be the oldest loyalty program on this list, starting in 1984 . IKEA Family doesn’t reward customers based on spend, but instead offers a range of attractive discounts, exclusive experiences, and free member perks.
IKEA Family’s positioning is basically in the name. “We really do treat our members like family” they say . It makes sense for the brand that turns houses into homes. They invite you into their stores with a free hot drink and discounts on food, they give you peace of mind with product damage cover, and they give you “family discounts.”
- $10 voucher on sign-up
- Free tea or coffee at IKEA stores
- Member-only events such as free home furnishing workshops and previews of new ranges
- Free “Oops-assurance” (cover for damages during delivery or assembly)
- Member-only discounts
- Birthday gifts
- Price protection (partial refunds if a product goes on sale within 90 days of purchase)
- IKEA Family has 170 million worldwide members
- Since the launch of the updated program in 2022, the share of sales from IKEA Family members has increased to 58% of all sales
11. Rakuten: Rakuten Points
Rakuten is a Japanese bank and one of the world’s biggest retailers. Rakuten Points makes it to this list because it isn’t quite like other airline or bank points systems. Rakuten uses its omnipresence in Japan to create a loyalty ecosystem where consumers can find everything they need. With 80% of the Japanese population on board, it’s probably the most successful country-based loyalty program on this list.
Like Amazon, Rakuten leverages its ecosystem of brands to create a loyalty program customers can reap benefits from wherever they shop. Points earned while shopping with the Rakuten card can be used to book an appointment at a salon via Rakuten Beauty or order a meal via Rakuten Gurunavi Delivery. RELATED: A TV Spot Spiked Rakuten France’s Traffic 819% in 2 minutes. Here’s How it Went.
Rakuten Members can spend and earn points in hundreds of ways, including:
- Spending with any of the 49,000 stores on the Rakuten Ichiba platform
- Upload your cooking recipe on Rakuten Recipe
- Spending with any of the hundreds of partner brands across dining, shopping, beauty, living and essential services (e.g., fuel stations, convenience stores, airlines, pharmacy’s, postal office, McDonald’s etc.)
- Make a reservation with Rakuten Travel
- Purchase a plan with Rakuten Energy
- Buy movies with Rakuten TV
- Using points to offset the cost of certain Rakuten subsidiary services, e.g., paying electricity bills, paying mobile plan bills and purchasing entertainment plans
- Using points to offset the cost of partner brands e.g., use points to offset the cost of a McDonald’s meal
- Exchange points with All Nippon Airways (ANA) airlines
Members can also earn and spend points through activities like investing, checking-in to Rakuten partner stores, even collecting parcels from post offices.
- Rakuten has 111.4 million members —80% of the population of Japan!
- Over three trillion points issued
- 500 billion Rakuten Points issued in 11 months
12. McDonald’s: MyMcDonald’s Rewards
McDonald’s was late to the loyalty program party, launching their MyMcDonald’s Rewards program in mid-2021. Like other food and beverage chains, McDonald’s went for a points-based reward system while mixing in a range of other benefits.
The positioning of McDonald’s loyalty program is pretty simple: get more McDonald’s for less money. For regular McDonald’s consumers, points and free items will rack up quickly (you can get a free cheeseburger with just one $15 spend). And for those who don’t eat at McDonald’s so often, exclusive weekly deals and free birthday gifts serve as a good incentive to give into their cravings.
- Free Big Mac on sign-up
- Exclusive weekly deals
- Free birthday gift
- $1 spent = 100 points earned
- Cheeseburger, Hash Brown, Vanilla Cone, McChicken
- Medium Fries, 6 Chicken McNugget, Sausage Burrito, Large Iced Coffee
- Large Fries, Fillet-O-Fish, Sausage McMuffin with Egg
- Big Mac, Happy Meal, Bacon Egg & Cheese Biscuit, Happy Meal
- MyMcdonald's Rewards has 25 million members in the U.S.
- Customer frequency has grown every quarter since the program was launched
- “About two thirds” of members in the U.S. have engaged in the past 3 months
RELATED: Foot Traffic to Web Traffic: How Five Guys Pivoted to Meet Surging Online Orders
13. Wesfarmers: OnePass
OnePass in a unique loyalty program in that it’s a collaboration between several major Australian brands. These brands are owned by the same conglomerate, but previously operated entirely independently. With OnePass they’re brought together, giving members benefits across 5 of Australia’s biggest retailers.
Additionally, members can bundle the program with Disney+ for additional discounts and get extra FlyBuys points—a point system like that of major airlines but run through and by Australian supermarkets.
The success of Amazon Prime demonstrates the value of having a loyalty program ecosystem. The more benefits you can offer a customer, the more sticky the program becomes. So as Amazon ventured into the Australian market, Wesfarmers—Australia’s largest retail conglomerate—created OnePass to fight back.
Like Amazon Prime, OnePass is positioned as a way to save time and money. It differentiates itself from Prime, however, by leveraging the massive brick-and-mortar presence of the 5 participating stores, and incentivizing click and collect and in-store shopping.
- Free delivery
- 365 day change of mind returns
- Discounted express delivery
- Access to member-only discounts, exclusive weekly deals, and early access sales
- Discounted pricing on Disney+
- Express click & collect
- 5x Flybuys points when shopping in-store
- OnePass members made double the number of transactions compared to non-members
- OnePass members spend an average of $1,000 online across participating retailers per year
Level up your loyalty program with exclusive & early access
Every one of the loyalty programs on this list has one thing in common: exclusive benefits for members.
While benefits like free shipping and discounts are attractive, they also cost retailers money. That’s why so many brands are turning to experiential-based benefits like early and exclusive access.
After benefits that cost retailers money, these are what customers want most from a loyalty program.
9 out of the 13 brands on this list offer early or exclusive access to product drops and flash sales.
We ran an analysis of Newsweek's top apparel loyalty programs of 2023, and found 91% of them offered early or exclusive access for members.
91% of America's best apparel loyalty programs offer early or exclusive access to sales and new products.
But early access or invite-only sales can be difficult to get right. Often companies will simply email out a link to a private sale page that quickly gets shared around and exploited by bots and resellers .
Loyal customers who follow the link just an hour after it’s sent find products sold out and question just how exclusive their “exclusive access” really is.
To avoid this problem, retailers like Rapha and The North Face use exclusive access solutions like an invite-only waiting room .
With an invite-only waiting room, you can control access to exclusive sales to engage loyal customers, block bots, and incentivize loyalty program sign-ups. You can do this by gating access with unique user identifiers (such as an email address), which can only be used by the email address holder and can only be activated once.
The invite-only waiting room ensures early and exclusive access sales are truly exclusive to only the customers you choose, giving you the control you need to reward your loyal customers with confidence.
Control sales access to reward members & grow your loyalty program
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- Customer Loyalty
13 Innovative Loyalty Program Rewards
- By Jessica Huhn
- September 21, 2023
- 10 min read
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Planning on starting a loyalty program ? The best loyalty programs are all about rewarding your customers for sticking with your business, but which rewards and incentives will work best for your brand’s loyalty program? We’re here to help you out with our rundown of iconic and innovative loyalty program incentives, including real-life examples.
How to choose the best loyalty program rewards
First, let’s go over a few simple practices for choosing the best loyalty program rewards.
Offer value to your customers
- Your customers need to be motivated to participate in your loyalty program, so pick rewards that they will want to earn.
- Choosing rewards that align with a customer’s regular purchasing habits, or rewarding them with your signature items, is a smart choice. For example, if you are a coffee shop, free coffees, or other signature drinks might serve as better rewards than hats.
- Consider personalizing the rewards you offer to each customer based on their needs and purchasing preferences.
Tie the reward back to your company
- Inject your brand’s unique flair into your loyalty program if you can, down to every reward you choose.
- If your reward offers a benefit from your company, it works as an incentive to keep customers coming back.
- For example, you could offer discounts on your products, credits towards their next purchase with you, free products, free shipping, or exclusive sale access as rewards.
Balance quick and instant rewards with exclusive, premium ones
- Not every reward should be hard to earn. Consider having some elements activate instantly upon joining, to kick-start customers’ motivation.
- But pull out all the stops for the VIPs who make a large amount of purchases from you, with high-value incentives (think exclusive products or access to special events and experiences)
Make sure rewards are enticing for customers and cost-effective for business
- This will also come down to how you structure your loyalty program. For example, how many purchases it takes to earn a certain reward? Is the customer is rewarded for every referral? Strike a balance.
Now, let’s get into our list of loyalty program rewards, both the mainstays and the most unique ones we’ve seen.
1. The iconic loyalty program rewards
These rewards are among the most popular and most successful loyalty program rewards we’ve seen. Customers love them!
One of the most popular rewards in the history of loyalty programs, this incentive works very well in the food and beauty spaces, as well as other industries where smaller, more frequent purchases are the norm.
Who doesn’t love free stuff? And when the free item is your favorite sandwich, drink, or other product, loyalty programs become especially motivating.
Many loyalty programs offer a choice of free products as the reward. The Chick-Fil-A One app is an awesome example. Customers earn points for the food they buy while using the app, and can redeem these points for free menu items of their choice, from strips to fries to salads.
Chipotle’s program is very similar, as points earned through their rewards app can be redeemed for a free entree of the customer’s choice.
And beauty rewards programs, like Sephora’s, let customers pick which products they’d like for free in exchange for their points. In some cases, members will receive free samples just for being part of the program!
Giving a choice of freebies really increases the value of these programs in the customer’s eyes.
Cash back or store credits
Cash back and store credits are the other most popular rewards on our list (usually, loyalty programs treat these two rewards as virtually identical.) For every given dollar amount spent, customers participating in these rewards programs receive cash back to use on a later purchase. One example is the structure of Kohl’s Cash: “Earn $10 cash for every $50 you spend.”
Valuable discounts on your products or services will motivate your customers to keep coming back to your business. The trick, though, is to limit your publicly available discounts and give the best savings to your program members. Also, consider sending out customized discount coupons for the products and product categories each customer tends to purchase the most. Customers love this personalized approach, especially when you mention them by name!
Giving your customers a free treat on their birthday is a great way to make them feel valued—and convince customers to share their birthday, a valuable piece of demographic data for your company. Sometimes these birthday surprises are free products or branded swag , and sometimes they’re discounts or instant cash back. Pick what works best for your brand. And consider keeping the birthday incentive a real surprise, where customers only find out what it is when they receive it.
P.F. Chang’s rewards members with a free appetizer or dessert during their birthday month.
Meanwhile, Kohl’s offers a discount as their loyalty program birthday treat.
Some loyalty programs grant their members access to exclusive sales.
In some cases, only members of the program receive emails and other notifications about secret sales, so they’re the only ones able to take advantage of insider info.
In other cases (like with Amazon Prime’s Prime Day ), everyone can find out about the discounts available to loyalty program members, but only members are able to cash in on these savings.
And in still other cases, like with Nordstrom, loyalty members gain access to certain big sales before the general public, so they can be the first to score the products they want at the best discounts.
Free shipping is another iconic loyalty program perk, and no other loyalty program does it like Amazon Prime (they don’t just offer free shipping; they get your shipments to you within one to two days, and sometimes even on the day you order. Now that’s service!)
This loyalty program perk offers rewards for shopping at multiple businesses under the same umbrella. Members of these loyalty programs can earn points for shopping at several businesses. All of these points are pooled together in one place, and customers can use them to redeem certain rewards.
Plenti was a popular example of this model, but they closed their program down in 2018. However, this model is still going strong in Shell’s Fuel Rewards loyalty program . Once you join the program, shopping at countless online retailers, dining at over 10,000 restaurants, and booking trips can earn you savings on Shell gas, in addition to extra gas savings for Shell’s best customers.
If your business is small, forming partnerships of Shell’s scale won’t be feasible. But you could always partner up with a single related, non-competing business in your area to offer joint rewards in your small business loyalty program.
2. The unique loyalty program rewards
Think outside the box with unique loyalty reward ideas , or spins on rewards that only your business can offer. Check out our list for inspiration!
Exclusive, limited products
Take free product rewards to the next level with big-ticket items only available to your loyalty program members. The Zumiez Stash has embraced this strategy. They’re constantly releasing limited-edition collab products with some of the brands they sell, like skate decks, bags, clothing and accessories, which you can only access with loyalty points. Check out some of their previous exclusive rewards below.
Offering exclusive experiences is another way to reward your best customers and make your brand memorable. The key is to tailor these experiences to fit your brand.
Outerwear brand The North Face’s VIPeak program lets members redeem their points for adventures and expeditions around the globe, aligning with their brand focus on the outdoors and exploration in extreme conditions. Some previous rewards have included endurance challenge entries, camping packages in national parks, and climbing experiences.
And fashion brand Nordstrom’s The Nordy Club grants members access to beauty and style workshops; higher-tier members get priority access to fashion events, as well as exclusive access to the most coveted VIP events (see below).
First access to products
Letting your most loyal, enthusiastic customers be the first to try your new products is an awesome perk that poses unique advantages for your business. Your best customers are most committed to seeing your brand succeed. So, they’re the best people to share your latest products with, before you release them to the public! They’re often glad to give you feedback on these products, to help you make your brand better than ever. Sephora knows the power of early access, and reserves this perk for only their top-tier loyalty program members.
Sometimes, the best reward is giving back. Including a social good element in your loyalty program empowers customers and appeals to their desire to shop ethical brands. It’s especially effective if your donation element aligns with your brand’s mission and values. Also, consider offering program members a choice between multiple charities to donate to.
The Body Shop’s Love Your Body Club lets members choose to donate their $10 loyalty reward to Born Free USA or the National Parks Conservation Association (both conservation and animal welfare organizations), if they wish. This ties in perfectly with The Body Shop’s commitment to sustainability, in all its forms.
And Target’s new loyalty program, Target Circle , lets members vote on how the brand should direct donations to a series of worthy charities. The more purchases someone makes, the more donation votes they receive.
Mobile experiences for convenience
Some brands have loyalty programs that take advantage of all the time we spend on our phones – they offer exclusive mobile and in-app perks to make using their brand even more convenient.
For example, Hilton offers a mobile check-in and room select option for Honors loyalty members , so they can access their rooms much faster and pick the rooms they want.
And Starbucks offers mobile ordering and payment in their loyalty app , for quick pickup of your favorite drinks. Order the drink you want in advance, and it will be ready for you right away once you get to Starbucks!
Cash back… towards rent
Recently, an NYC start-up known as Stake created a rental loyalty program , with one of the most unique rewards we’ve seen. Stake app users get up to 5% of each rent payment back, in a personal account, as long as they pay on time. And people who choose to save at least 80% of the money in their account are rewarded with the greatest payback.
Rent is expensive, especially in NYC, so the fact that Stake users get some of their rent money back is highly empowering. It better enables them to save for their goals (including potentially buying their own property eventually). Plus, it gives them more insurance in case they’d ever need extra funds for an emergency.
This rent loyalty program concept won’t be applicable to most businesses, but it’s a great example of offering value to customers and empowering them, with a unique reward they appreciate.
Wrapping things up
Now that you’ve seen these iconic and innovative loyalty program rewards, it’s time to pick the incentives that will work best for your business. Check out our other articles for more tips on starting a customer loyalty program , and for tips on how to increase customer loyalty (beyond the loyalty program). Or, find out about the loyalty program software needed to keep a program like this running smoothly.
Not sure if a loyalty program is the right choice? You can also compare loyalty programs to another incentive program type, a referral program.
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The Definitive Guide to Loyalty Programs
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10 Of The Most Innovative Loyalty Programs In The Retail Industry
The retail industry is booming, but it's never been more competitive. After getting tanked by the pandemic and supply chain disruptions, the retail industry is slowly stabilizing. But stabilization doesn’t mean it is slowing down. Quite the contrary – retail brands can thrive only if they are able to keep up with innovation and rich ecommerce and in-store experiences.
Customer loyalty programs in retail
Loyalty programs have been a surefire way to secure customer wallets long-term. Focused on savings and member benefits, consumers are eager to join loyalty schemes and reap their rewards. Retaining customers in times of significant price increases is one of the most critical sales challenges for retailers today, and loyalty programs pay off. Here are the most note-worthy benefits of a retail loyalty program that will help you move the KPI needle:
- Better customer retention – retention measures how long customers stick around. With a well-implemented and targeted loyalty program that brings shoppers instant benefits, you can increase customer lifetime value and reduce churn.
- More referrals – great loyalty programs do marketing for themselves. Happy members are more likely to refer your brand to family and friends. Some brands combine the two by rewarding customer referrals with loyalty points and other perks.
- Higher average order size – on average, loyalty members spend more with your brand than non-member customers.
Read on to discover the most popular types of retail loyalty programs and see how customer-oriented retailers build brand loyalty with personalized offers.
The most common types of reward programs for retail brands
Various loyalty mechanisms are used in modern loyalty programs. While building an appropriate loyalty strategy, the most important business goals should be subject to detailed analysis. Automatic discounts, promo codes, and the ability to reach new levels of membership with tiered programs are some of the most desirable loyalty features today. Here are the most popular structure for retail rewards programs:
1. Point-based programs
In this type of program, members earn rewards through exchanging points. Typically, members earn points for every dollar spent. Point programs are simple to use and quick to build instant gratification. They prompt continuous engagement through repetitive behavior and repeat purchases. The most common drawbacks are unresolved liabilities and cheapened brand image.
2. Tiered loyalty programs
Customers get access to specific program benefits based on the tier they are placed in. Tiered loyalty programs create exclusivity and encourage long-term engagement. Granular segmentation allows brands to run other promo campaigns and offers on top of level-based filters. The biggest drawback are limitations related to changing program rules and mechanisms.
3. Cashback programs
Cashback is an instant monetary reduction that generates a sense of gratitude and excitement due to the surprise effect. Cashback programs incentivize specific actions and encourage brand preference with low-effort rewards. Depending on the cashback level, it might be hard to generate positive ROI from low AOV orders.
Learn more: How to launch a cashback loyaty program?
4. Paid loyalty programs
Paid programs provide members with loyalty benefits in exchange for an annual/monthly or one-time fee. These programs are still considered controversial. However, customers tend to value the brand more and shop more often once they decide to pay a membership fee – this is why a proper value demonstration is required to generate sign-ups.
Learn more: Everything you need to know about paid membership programs
10 examples of the best retail loyalty programs
1. amazon prime paid membership .
Type: Paid loyalty program.
Reward actions: Monthly ($14.99) or annual fee ($139).
- Expedited shipping benefits.
- Prime-exclusive discounts.
- Access to digital entertainment (Video Streaming, Reading, Photos, First Reads).
Even if you don't shop on Amazon, there is a good chance that you’ve heard about Amazon Prime. It is a monthly subscription loyalty program that can be cancelled at any time. Besides shopping perks, better deals, and expedited shipping, Amazon Prime members also access Prime Video and Prime Gaming platforms. Making consumers pay a membership fee to join your rewards program is controversial but not that uncommon. Paid loyalty programs work best for retailers who see high levels of repeat and frequent purchases. As reported by Statista, Prime members spend a lot more than non-Prime customers.
Many of the products and offers on Amazon are marked with the program logo, suggesting that subscribers to this service can count on something extra when shopping. For example, some of the attractive sales promotions on Amazon are completely reserved for Amazon Prime members.
“Prime services have enticed an estimated 70 million-90 million new customers to sign up for membership, though the company doesn’t reveal the exact number of Amazon Prime members. It did, however, report that in 2017, Amazon shipped more than 5 billion items worldwide via Prime, and it signed up more new paid members throughout 2017 than in any previous year.” – Forbes
What made the Amazon Prime program a success?
- Expedited & free shipping increases convenience and makes Amazon an obvious choice when in dire need of a product.
- Special deals & discounts are an obvious differentiator between Amazon and its competitors.
- Access to exclusive entertainment with thousands of free ebooks, movies, and game add-ons attract new customers.
It is important to note that Amazon Prime is not a loyalty program in the traditional sense of earning points and redeeming rewards. Instead, loyal members need to pay a small fee for these privileges. This approach gives customers a sense of ownership over their membership, increasing the program's value in their eyes.
2. Walmart Plus Rewards Program
Reward actions: Monthly ($12.95) or annual ($98) fee.
- Early access to deals.
- Video streaming with Paramount+.
- Free shipping with no order minimum.
- Fuel savings (up to 10¢ per gallon at 14,000+ locations nationwide).
- Mobile scan-and-go with no-contact checkout experience.
- Walmart Rewards – members earn rewards on eligible items online & in-store to use on future purchases.
“We are a company committed to meeting our customers’ needs. Customers know they can trust us and depend on us, and we’ve designed this program as the ultimate life hack for them. Walmart+ will bring together a comprehensive set of benefits where we see the greatest needs from our customers and where our scale can bring solutions at an unprecedented value.” – Janey Whiteside, chief customer officer of Walmart
To compete with Amazon, Walmart, another giant US retailer, launched its new subscription loyalty program in 2020. The program is a fantastic alternative to Prime (and also cheaper) for consumers who already shop at Walmart regularly.
Operating in a price-sensitive environment, Walmart decided to incorporate Walmart Rewards and gas savings as program perks. The retailer boasts that the club member can save over $1,300 each year. The program operates both in a dedicated mobile app and a web app, allowing for an omnichannel loyalty experience.
This way, Walmart's loyalty program caters to both traditional shoppers and a mobile-only customer base. By offering low prices, flexible cashback, and convenient locations across the US, Walmart's marketing plays well to the top loyalty benefits that both new and existing customers expect and value most.
3. Sephora Beauty Insider Loyalty Program
Type: Hybrid program – tiered point-based loyalty system.
Reward actions: Placing orders – membership levels are based on annual spending.
- Exclusive discounts and savings.
- Points exchange to amount discounts (500 points for $10 off and 2 500 points for $100 off).
- Auto-replenish with -a 5% discount.
- Free shipping with no minimum spend.
- Free birthday gifts and exclusive perks.
- Access to Rewards Bazaar.
- Access to exclusive events and pre-launch events.
Sephora is a giant French cosmetics retailer. They have made a name for themselves in the sphere of customer loyalty with their Beauty Insider loyalty program. The program's rules differ from those of Amazon or Walmart, yet it still proved to be highly effective in acquiring loyal members and reducing customer churn. Sephora’s rewards program lets customers choose the loyalty benefits they prefer. All members earn 1 point for each $1 spent. Collected points can be redeemed for gift cards, exclusive products, and extra perks (such as beauty tutorials).
Membership perks widely vary based on the membership level (Insider, VIB, Rouge). The program is available both in-store and via a dedicated loyalty mobile app.
Sephora’s Beauty Insider program has grown wildly popular. The program has more than 20 million loyal members that combined make up as much as 80% of Sephora’s annual sales. The success of the program lies in its individual approach to customers. Sephora’s clientele does not shop out of necessity but rather for pleasure. Following this logic, Sephora decided to add a feeling of exclusivity to its loyalty program with non-monetary perks and gamified level structure.
A 25% off discount for the first purchase as a member also helps to incentivize members to sign up. To protects themselves against piling liabilities, all points expire after 12 months of members' inactivity.
Learn more: How to incentive loyalty program sign-ups?
4. Kohl’s Rewards
Type: Cashback loyalty program.
Reward actions: Making eligible orders.
- 5% cashback on purchases.
- 7.5% cashback when you customers use a Kohl's Card.
- Birthday and anniversary gifts.
- Member-only deals and personalized offers.
Kohl's is an American retail chain. Having to compete with giants like Walmart, this retail brand opted for a transaction-based program and attractive discounts to drive sales and attract customer loyalty. The mechanics behind their rewards scheme are straightforward – customers earn 5% on every purchase, called Kohl’s Rewards. The balance is converted and issued in $5 Kohl’s Cash increments on the first day of the following month. The monetary reward is available for 30 days. To increase engagement and stay top of mind, Kohl’s uses push notifications to notify users about unspent rewards.
“We will maximize value for our Kohl’s customers nationwide with the launch of Kohl’s Rewards by rewarding them with more Kohl’s Cash every day. Following a successful pilot that resonated so well with our customers, we are excited about this next evolution of loyalty at Kohl’s. It’s unlike any other program, benefitting every rewards member – whether they are just getting to know us or shopped with us for years.” – Greg Revelle, Kohl’s CMO.
To make the loyalty program more engaging, Kohl’s has introduced a special period where members can get $10 Kohl’s Cash for each $50 spent. The success of the program can also be attributed to its well-planned implementation. Members of the previous program, Yes2You, have been automatically moved to the new program. Their rewards have also been converted into a new currency, ensuring consistency and no hard feelings on the customers' side.
5. Ulta's Ultamate Rewards Program
Reward actions: Making orders and subscribing to Ulta's email and app notifications.
- Members can exchange points for discounts.
- Birthday bonuses: double points for an entire birthday month, free gifts and a $10 coupon.
- Exclusive deals, gifts and early access.
- Free shipping for orders above $25.
Ulta Beauty is the largest American network of beauty shops, with a wide range of makeup and skincare products. Ulta launched its rewards program in 2003 and has since tweaked the program plenty of times to reflect changing retail trends.
Club members spend about $1700 per person each year on the brand, making the program one of the best retail loyalty programs to date. Ulta was also one of the first beauty businesses to provide an omnichannel experience, making it easier for customers to redeem points both online and in-store. The program also comes with a dedicated mobile app making it easy to check point balance, activate rewards and get the lastest updates.
The loyalty program combines the best elements of point-based programs and tiered programs. In short, Ulta rewards customers for every dollar spent and offers discounts as rewards that can be used towards any future purchases without forcing customers to redeem predefined product samples and material rewards. Their tier-based structure with better perks on top incentivizes members to continue shopping to reap high-value rewards. Similarly to Sephora, Ulta also has three membership tiers based on annual spending (Member, Platinum, Diamond).
6. IKEA Family Program
Type: Perks loyalty program.
Reward actions: All it takes is joining the program for free.
- Member-only discounts and sales promotions.
- Free hot drinks for every visit in-store.
- Member-only newsletter and community.
- Warranty if a product breaks in transport or while assembling.
IKEA Family is one of the largest loyalty communities, with over 110 million members worldwide. Club members get access to exclusive discounts, free hot drinks with every visit and other perks, including member-only newsletters, access to a member community to share interior design tips and an "Oops-assurance" if something breaks during transport or whilst assembling furniture.
IKEA also offer a digital card and a mobile app that, upon scanning, gives members access to other discounted inventory. IKEA uses cards to track customer behaviour and preferences and adjust their offer to individual members.
7. Target Circle
- Members earn 1% in Target Circle earnings every time they make an eligible purchase or 5% savings when shopping with Target RedCard.
- Member-only deals.
- Birthday gift: 5% off a single purchase for your birthday. Valid for 30 days.
- Community support votes to support charities.
Launched in 2019, the Target Circle loyalty program boasts more than 110 million members. Contrary to its competitors, Amazon and Walmart, Target runs a free loyalty program that underlines instant savings and incentivizes bigger orders instead of offering extra perks such as same-day delivery or exclusive access to pre-launch products. Members earn a 1% discount when they shop or a 5% discount with Target RedCard.
Program members also have access to birthday gifts, charity donations and special early access to partner-only products and events. The convenience of adding discounts automatically at checkout, with no extra redemption steps, keeps Circle top of mind. And all that with no extra annual fee, unlike Walmart or Amazon.
8. PetSmart loyalty program
Type: Point-based loyalty program.
- Making orders (1 point for $1 spent).
- Using PetSmart services (e.g., PetsHotel).
- Donating to PetSmart Charities.
- Bonus points for completing the profile (incentivizing data sharing).
- Points can be exchanged for discounts on all products and services.
- Free gift for pet's birthday and free Doggy DayCamp sessions.
- Free shipping on orders above $49.
PetSmart Treats is a point-based program with an interesting take on reward actions and rewards. Loyal customers earn points for every $1 spent. Besides making orders, PetSmart also rewards customers for using the services of partner locations, such as grooming salons and donating to PetSmart Charities.
The rewards catalog is focused primarily on discounts and savings. However, members get access to unique features such as free shipping on orders over $49 and a free surprise gift on a pet's birthday. PetSmart adds a gamification element to its loyalty program by offering bonus and double points days and other personalized offers.
9. MyWalgreens loyalty program
Type: Perk loyalty program with cashback functionality.
Reward actions: Sign up for free.
- 1% Walgreens Cash rewards storewide.
- 5% Walgreens Cash rewards on Walgreens branded products.
- Exclusive access to Walgreens Credit Card and higher cashbacks.
- Same Day Pickup and Delivery.
- Extra Walgreens Cash for achieving health goals.
- Charity donations.
MyWalgreens is the largest US health-centred customer loyalty program, with more than 100 million members. The program provides customers with several perks, including the fastest same-day retail pickup options. The program comes with a new loyalty mobile app that allows members to not only make orders but also reap other benefits of the membership, such as a 24/7 pharmacy chat, access to medical care and vaccination appointments, personalized health advice, and more.
10. Nike Membership
- Early access and member-exclusive styles and deals.
- Free shipping on all orders.
- Access to workouts, events and workshops.
- Shoe customization services and other in-store benefits.
There are four key aspects that make Nike Member Program a fantastic loyalty case study – exclusivity, omnichannel, personalization and community. The single biggest benefit of joining the Nike customer loyalty program is access to member-exclusive perks, events and experiences and loyal Nike customers perceive this to be the biggest advantage of the program.
The Nike loyalty app works pretty much like a social media platform where loyal customers can stay in touch with other Nike and sports fans. The final pillar of Nike's success is the loyalty technology that ties it all together – by building a frictionless omnichannel experience, the brand motivates customers to keep engaging with the program across all touchpoints, securing customer loyalty long term.
Besides new technologies entering the retail market with mobile shopping, AI personalization, and VR, the upcoming decade will be a decisive period for growing customer loyalty and increasing tribalization of shopping attitudes brought about by retail molochs such as Amazon or Walmart.
Retailers have plenty of opportunities to grow customer loyalty. After all, their business model is primarily customer-centric. With a great customer loyalty program in place, you can collect first-party data and craft memorable experiences across any channel, both offline and online. With customer acquisition costs skyrocketing, focusing on customer retention is more important than ever.
With plenty of loyalty strategies out there, it is important to remember the key principles of growing customer loyalty – omnichannel presence , continuous engagement , long-term strategy , and memorable incentives .
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