3 Ways to Make Your Loyalty Program More Social for the Holidays

Most consumers join loyalty programs with self-serving motives.  This makes perfect sense considering that the explicit promise of most programs can be distilled down to “do this, get that.” But, that doesn’t mean that consumers don’t appreciate brands who give them the flexibility to use their points and miles to give to others.

Member Engagement Through Gifting

New consumer research data from Maritz shows that using points to reward others is a significant part of the modern loyalty program experience:

  • 54% of consumers have gifted a loyalty program reward during the holidays
  • 35% use program points to gift throughout the year
  • 8% exclusively use points for gifts for for friends and family

Charitable giving also appeals to consumers. The same Maritz research found 40% of buyers would be at least moderately more likely to participate in a loyalty program that offered charitable giving opportunities, and 14% said it would greatly influence their participation. (See the infographic at the bottom of this post for more information)

Most Programs Miss the Opportunity to Get Social

Unfortunately, most loyalty programs continue to focus solely on “mercenary” offers—those that appeal to a consumer’s sense of self (i.e., “what do I get out of it?”). While this can be effective, the key to lasting customer relationships are “multi-loyalty” programs that go beyond simply earning and redeeming rewards.

Here’s why — there are four primary drivers that motivate people, according to a neuroscience-based model developed by the Harvard Business School. One of those is the Drive to Bond, combining the desire to connect socially with others and a tendency to recall social experiences more easily and more positively. So, appealing to a consumer’s need to experience social connection (ie, “What can I do for somebody else?”) can set your loyalty program apart and boost redemption rates.

3 Strategies For the Holidays

The holidays present a particularly advantageous opportunity. This is the time of year when people are most inclined to give, so why not encourage consumers to focus that generous spirit on their loyalty rewards, too?

1. Gifting

Allow program participants to redeem their points to buy gifts for family and friends. The goal is to make it easy to do holiday shopping and ship gifts directly to recipients. As an example, Choice Hotels allows members of its Choice Privileges program to redeem points for gift cards, to take the hassle (and money crunch) out of Christmas and Hanukkah shopping.

2. Shared Reward

Enable program participants to join forces to earn one shared reward (for example, children banding together to give their parents a dream vacation). British Airways excels in this area, allowing as many as seven members in the same household to pool miles. One person can redeem them and draw proportionally from each member’s account. Members can also redeem awards for up to five others not living in the same household.

3. Charity

Give members a chance to convert points or miles into a donation to charity. This allows the consumer to feel good about making the world a better place by making an impact at a local, national, or global level. Jet Blue’s True Giving program allows customers to donate TrueBlue points to more than 2.5 million causes in its database.

Offering gifting and giving options allows brands to communicate to consumers that they care about what matters to them. It helps users fulfill their drive to connect with community. And that’s a great way to stand out from the pack.

How Consumers Are Gifting



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