Loyalty Fun for the Whole Family, Complete with Face Painting


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I once participated in a grocer’s loyalty program in kind of a tag-team fashion. Though the program was in my wife’s name, we both participated in the program: my wife had the keyfob and I had the card, meaning our purchases reflected interests for the household in aggregate. And we were both loyal to that grocer, and appreciated the benefits of the program. Such sharing can be something of a headache for marketers who want to concentrate on learning about individuals (we both cooked, but vastly different cuisines), but in many ways, the whole of a household is an individual, with its purchase and behavior activity consolidated into one view.

Besides, there are advantages to treating entire households as individuals, in a sense. When redemption offers have full-household benefit, the program becomes more attractive to the individual member, and becomes memorable to others in the household and, by extension, in the member’s social network. That’s good not only for currying loyalty, but also for generating word-of-mouth.

A good example of a “holistic household” strategy results from Starwood Hotels’ recent partnership with Cirque du Soleil, which brings a new set of benefits to members of the Starwood Preferred Guest [SPG] program. One of the first offerings, Starwood says, is “an exclusive SPG Family Fun Day at OVO [one of Cirque du Soleil’s productions] in Santa Monica. Selected members can bring their children to experience VIP show tickets, private performance workshops with some of OVO’s artists, face painting, Q&A, gifts,” and other privileged access. Designing a redemption option (in this case, via auction) for the entire family or social group can deliver a lot of positive feelings about the brand, while widening the pool of potential members. Yes, the ones involved in face painting aren’t likely to be making hotel reservations anytime soon, yet some fond memories of an exciting and exclusive day can very well influence their choice of hotel brand down the road.

To employ the “holistic household” strategy, consider these thoughts:

1. Make your members the household hero. Let them share their loyalty-program benefits.

2. Provide tools to encourage sharing – even if the sharing involves only word-of-mouth. Does your website, for instance, have a “tell-a-friend” feature linked to email or social-networking posts? Not only are you facilitating positive network conversations, you’re taking the opportunity to make sure that your brand is front and center. This is a great opportunity to generate what we call Trialogue.

3. Have fun. Offer unique redemption options, including aspirational and experiental. I especially like the interaction element of SPG’s Family Fun Day. It’s more than VIP treatment at a major entertainment – it’s an activityfest.

4. Don’t overdo the face-painting option. It’s not for everyone – in fact, I gave it up a couple of weeks ago.

For more on the relationship of loyalty programs to customers’ social network, check out our discussion of what COLLOQUY calls the new “I-Network.”

Bill Brohaugh
As managing editor, Bill Brohaugh is responsible for the day-to-day management and editorial for the COLLOQUY magazine and colloquy.com, the most comprehensive loyalty marketing web site in the world. In addition to writing many of the feature articles, Bill develops the editorial calendar, hires and manages outside writers and researchers and oversees print and online production. He also contributes to COLLOQUY's weekly email Market Alert and the COLLOQUYTalk series of white papers.


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