In the 1960s, the S&H Green Stamps launched their famous rewards program. Kellogg’s Corn Flakes would include The Funny Jungleland Moving Pictures Book in their first cereal premium. Both examples brought marketing in a new direction of generosity: an anthropologic means to initiate strong reciprocity bonds. Today, consumers are increasingly social, ever connected and weary of marketing’s charm, so how has generosity marketing evolved to continue to cement this bond between brands and customers?
The need for loyalty has never been more important than today. According to a recent Ernst & Young study, only 25% of customers are loyal in the US. This very low rate can be attributed to the rise of the internet: by removing geographical barriers, it has strongly increased competition between brands, leaving them struggling to retain consumers. According to Kevin Roberts, author of the resounding book Lovemarks, the brands that will succeed in this new ruthless paradigm are only those that will be able to strengthen emotional bonds with their consumers and create “Loyalty beyond reason.”
Simultaneously, marketers have been empowered by the recent evolutions in new technologies to enhance their generosity marketing. First, brands can now interact with their consumers on social networks. Second, the proliferation of smartphones today enables brands to touch consumers intimately, anywhere and anytime. Third, never before have marketers have access to so much data that brands can leverage to hyper-personalize their communication to consumers.
Below, I’ve laid out three tactics marketers are using now to get the generosity juices flowing:
1. Rewards for social engagement.
Earlier this month, Lancôme launched a new loyalty program to reward their fans on social media. Lancôme Elite Rewards allows its members to earn points per dollar spent and for sharing products on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Foursquare.
Today, consumers have become the best brand ambassadors by engaging on social networks. This is a best-in-class example of how brands should express their gratitude to them by rewarding them generously.
2. Instant gratification.
Apple recently offered a $25 iTunes digital gift card for every Apple TV purchase online.
Offering a gift has always been one of the pillars of generosity marketing. The next evolution of it is to do it online with digital gift cards. Consumers are instantly delighted, which is particularly valued by today’s young audiences.
3. Social halo.
Tom’s brand, the shoe empire, recently announced a new program to turn coffee into water. Tom’s launched its own new line of coffee, which specificity is that every bag that will be sold in Tom’s coffee-store will provide a day of clean water.
In this fully transparent world, consumers are much more aware of global challenges and ask for social commitment from their favorite brands. Even a small social gesture can make the difference in retaining consumers over competition.
The generosity marketing challenge – and opportunity – for brands is getting bigger with the evolution of both technology and society to keep clients loyal. Brands should act now to win customers over.