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Traditional customer loyalty programmes have lost their utility, says report

The Accenture Strategy report, Seeing beyond the loyalty illusion: it’s time you invest more wisely’, found that 86 per cent of Indian consumers have switched providers in the past year, and 43 per cent say their expectations around brand loyalty have completely changed

BestMediaInfo Bureau | Mumbai | February 16, 2017

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Organisations are wasting billions each year on customer loyalty programmes that don’t work like they used to, according to new research from Accenture Strategy. With millions of loyalty points sitting dormant and the majority of Indian consumers (85 per cent) retracting loyalty at profit-crushing rates, organisations must pay attention to the new factors driving customer loyalty in the digital age or risk losing customers for good.

The Accenture Strategy report, Seeing beyond the loyalty illusion: it’s time you invest more wisely, gauges the experiences and attitudes of 25,426 consumers around the world, including 562 Indian consumers, about their loyalty relationship with brands and organisations today. The report found that 86 per cent of Indian consumers have switched provider in the past year, and 43 per cent confirm their expectations around brand loyalty have completely changed. The report also identified five new factors influencing loyalty today.

“New ‘languages of loyalty’ have emerged, driven by brands experimenting with creative digital experiences, which have changed the dynamics of customer loyalty today,” said Vineet Ahuja, Managing Director, Advanced Customer Strategy at Accenture in India.

“Every consumer has a natural instinct around what makes them ‘stick’ to a brand. The traditional ‘low price’ and ‘reliable service’ mechanics are no longer as effective at driving loyalty. With 75 per cent of Indian consumers spending more with the brands they love, organisations that stick to traditional approaches and don’t explore the new drivers influencing loyalty risk draining profitability and pushing customers away – even when they have the best intentions or are following their historical playbook. It’s time for organisations to take a fresh look at loyalty,” added Ahuja.

33 per cent of Indian consumers currently have a negative or non-existent reaction when brands try to earn their loyalty. A quarter (25 per cent) think brands should do everything possible to earn their loyalty.63 per cent of Indian consumers express loyalty by recommending the brands and companies they love to family and friends. 60 per cent increase the level of business they do with the brands and companies they love.

Accenture Strategy has identified five languages of loyalty which are driving customer relationships in the digital age, particularly among Indian millennials:

  1. ‘Tokens of affection’: 65 per cent of Indian consumers feel loyal to brands that present them with small tokens of affection, such as personalised discounts, gift cards and special offers to reward their loyalty.

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  1. ‘Get to know me’: 65 per cent of Indian consumers are loyal to brands that offer them the opportunity to personalise products to create something that is bespoke to them. 68 per cent are loyal to brands that interact with them through their preferred channels of communication. 73 per cent feel loyal to brands that are there when they need them, but otherwise respect their time and leave them alone. Furthermore, 81 per cent are loyal to brands that safeguard and protect the privacy of their personal information.

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  1. ‘Thrill seeker’: 61 per cent of Indian consumers are loyal to brands that actively engage them to help design or co-create products or services. Sixty-nine per cent are loyal to organisations that present them with new experiences, products or services. Furthermore, 64 per cent are loyal to brands that engage them in ‘multi-sensory’ experiences, using new technologies such as virtual reality or augmented reality.

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  1. ‘If you like it, I like it’: Half (50 per cent) of Indian consumers are loyal to brands that partner with celebrities, and another 47 per cent feel loyal to organisations that partner with social influencers, such as bloggers and vloggers. 62 per cent are loyal to brands that their family and friends do business with. Furthermore, 64 per cent show loyalty to brands that actively support shared causes, such as charities or public campaigns.

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  1. ‘Hook me up’: 63 per cent of Indian consumers feel loyal to brands that connect them with other providers, giving them the ability to exchange loyalty points or rewards. Likewise, 69 per cent are loyal to brands that keep them on the cutting edge by consistently offering the latest products and services.

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“Organisations need to understand the loyalty languages of their most profitable customers and implement the optimal mix to ensure they’re delivering the experiences that drive advocacy, retention and growth,” added Ahuja.

Ahuja said, “An appetite for extra-ordinary, multi-sensory experiences, hyper-personalisation and co-creation, are changing consumer dynamics around loyalty and forcing brands and organisations to shift their approaches and programmes.”

The survey includes online responses from respondents in: Denmark, Finland, Sweden, UAE, Thailand, South Korea, Singapore, Norway, Mexico, Malaysia, Ireland, South Africa, Russia, Argentina, Turkey, Poland, Philippines, Netherlands, Belgium, Czech Republic, India, Indonesia, France, Germany, Japan, China, Brazil, Spain, Canada, Australia, Italy, United Kingdom and the United States. The survey was fielded in July and August 2016.

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