In this article Truth’s CEO, Amanda Cromhout, writes about the customer loyalty trends for 2023.

by Amanda Cromhout: CEO at Truth and author of the annual Truth & BrandMapp South African Loyalty whitepaper.

If you’d like to develop a world-class loyalty programme and proposition, there are 10 main trends to keep a look out for in 2023.

Strategically, it is critical to remember that a loyalty programme does not automatically result in customer loyalty. All brand elements need to be well delivered upon to achieve this.

Firstly, and most importantly, is personalisation. A loyalty programme must offer relevance and a personalised customer experience. One size cannot fit all. The brands offering a more relevant and personalised experience across all brand elements will yield deeper loyalty from customers, without exception.

Secondly, the seamless experience of a loyalty offering plays a critical part, and whilst this may not be a trend, it is certainly a requirement. Loyalty cannot add friction to the customer experience.

We applaud brands which build non-transactional activities into their loyalty programmes. This means offering rewards and points for activities over and above spend or card swipes. For example, programmes which allow members to earn points or rewards for referring a friend or engaging with the brand via social media are more likely to create deeper engagement and therefore, stickiness with its members. This is our third loyalty trend.

In fourth spot is ensuring that the basics of a simple and easy redemption process is in place for members to extract maximum value from the loyalty programme. There must not be hidden hurdles or complex redemption processes.

The fifth trend is one of my favourites. We believe passionately in building a surprise and delight element into a loyalty programme offering. Use insight and a covert approach to offer your best customers rewards and recognition over and above the core loyalty offering when they are least expecting it.

The sixth trend revolves around emotional loyalty. This can be achieved through the accumulation of many of these trends successfully brought together in one programme. It is stated that customers who feel this emotional connection are likely to spend twice as much as other customers and will have a three times greater lifetime value.

The seventh trend is by invitation only, where a select group of customers are exclusively invited into a unique tier or event which creates a sense of uniqueness and also envy from other members.

Trend number eight is gamification. Gamification is a strong engagement tool to help members enjoy how they interact with the programme via playful mechanics to simply get more out of the programme or for the programme to gather more information and data from its members – both with the members’ permission.

Trend number nine is subscription-based loyalty. Is it loyalty if the member is paying for a service? Global brands such as Costco and Amazon see a 92% and 94% retention rate after year one, which is outstanding. So, whether it is traditional loyalty programme practice or not, it creates long term loyalty to the brand.

Finally, we encourage brands to ensure that their loyalty activities drive a higher purpose aligned to their brand values. The loyalty programme needs to be aligned to a brand’s environmental and community activities and allow members to get involved and rewarded for this engagement.