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Integrating Individual Rewards With Community Engagement [Future of Retail]

How tying loyalty to community engagement can benefit customers, retailers and brands.

PSFK Labs
PSFK Labs on November 29, 2013. @psfk

Creating personalized experiences for their customers is an essential way for brands and retailers to remain relevant, but how can they move beyond singular transactions to build long-term value that keeps these same shoppers coming back? By tying these experiences to a wider community of likeminded fans, companies are tapping into the people’s desire for meaningful connections and shared interests.

In our fourth Future of Retail report, PSFK Labs has identified the trend, Community Loyalty, where social customer relationship systems are helping retailers and brands develop more meaningful relationships with their shoppers. These programs encourage and reward participation, bringing customers together in new ways, while creating more opportunities to connect around the things that matter most. Continue reading below to see examples of how companies are rethinking loyalty for their own shoppers.

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Pharmacy chain Walgreens has created a community-based support platform for its Balance Rewards program members. Users can either manually log walking and running data or sync physical activity from fitness devices. The ‘Steps with Balance Rewards’ program helps members track their progress and goals, earning points for their efforts. The 75 million members, making it America’s largest loyalty program, can interact with each other online by sharing stories, discussing goals, finding local walking routes, working together towards individual goals. Rewards points can be used on almost any product available at Walgreens. As of October 2013, Walgreens’ Balance Rewards members have tracked over 26 million miles, averaging over 30 miles per member.

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Fashion retailer Urban Outfitters has a mobile rewards and marketing program that looks to garner more engagement from fans and shoppers with unique photo contests and social media challenges. The social network app lets users share photos that show off their personal style. Other members can ‘like’ or shop images featuring Urban Outfitters merchandise. When users mention the company on Twitter or Instagram, they receive points, gifts, or access to exclusive events. The network and rewards programs helps customers share their style with fellow shoppers while offering up valuable shopper data about social media usage and product interest.

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Auto manufacturer Volkswagen created a mobile app called SmileDrive to help consumers drive more enjoyably. It connects to a user’s car via Bluetooth and tracks data like location, distance, time, and weather to calculate a ‘smile score.’ Additionally, users are rewarded with badges and stickers for unlocking special achievements aimed to help further engage drivers and reward them in creative ways. For example, every time a driver passes another Volkswagen car on the road using SmileDrive, they automatically get a virtual punch in the in-app PunchDub game, reminiscent of the decades-old ‘punch buggy’ game. On longer road trips, SmileDrive enables the creation of a Smilecast, a travelogue auto-filled with photos, maps, status updates, and other memories collected on a single URL that can be accessed by family and friends. The app hopes to help Volkswagen drivers think less about the miles and more about how they enjoy life.

The Community Loyalty trend is part of a bigger theme called Networked Purchase Path. At key points along the shopping journey, a forward thinking retailer or brand can effectively employ data, connected technologies and human service to meet the shopper where they are and anticipate where they will go next, created seamless experiences and better interactions across channels.

In the fourth edition of the Future of Retail Report, PSFK Labs brings together two interconnected themes and eleven key trends that provide a foundation for the modern shopping experience. The findings are brought to life with best-in-class examples, actionable strategies and leading questions to inspire leading retailers and brands. Join us at our San Francisco conference on Nov. 21st to hear talks from retail innovators that will bring the report’s key themes to life.

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Image: Mashable

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