Fun, Creative, Smart. Here’s What Defines Retail Loyalty In 2023

In the United States, there may be up to a million reward programs for retail customers. It is possible that one program will be the most successful in 2023, compared to all others.

Without stepping through every one of these programs, it’s clear year in and year out that some loyalty initiatives do stand apart for their perks, technologies and customer understanding. We are all familiar with many of these programs because they are so large: Starbucks
Prime, CVS. I’d wager the majority of U.S. households is enrolled in one of these programs.

But there’s also a class of programs that should be recognized for their innovation in the face of these giants, as well as those that just nail it in one category. In the spirit of healthy competition, here’s a short list of some of the programs that stood out across various categories.

The Programs To Watch In 2023 … In 6 Categories

  1. The program to watch for being fun – Blumtopia Blume You can’t go wrong with any rewards program that has a website that allows members to listen to the sounds and crows of the sea, or the encouraging jingle from points adding up. Blume, a female youth brand that focuses on sustainable skin and period care products, is focused on image and good health. Blumtopia’s earnings options also delight – members collect “Blume Bucks” just by signing up, then earn more by following Blumtopia’s social platforms, by leaving reviews and (of course) buying products. Members can redeem their BBs for “divine” prizes, such as Blume apparel, beauty products and gift cards, all displayed on Grecian pedestals on the website.
  2. Watch this program for well-dressed womenHugo Boss Experience. It is easy to use and easy on the eyes. Its website is modular, streamlined, and features earth-toned photographs of beautiful people wearing smart, crisp clothes. Hugo Boss doesn’t overdress for any occasion. HB Experience offers exclusive member experiences as well as early access to its products. Members are not rewarded with points. Instead, they receive birthday gifts, such as product discounts, and other perks that will never go out-of-fashion, like expert fashion advice and personal shopping.
  3. The program to watch for creativity – Levi’s RedTab. The historic maker of denim clothing gets what matters to its customers, and that’s jeans that reflect who they are, down to the fit and literal design. RedTab members receive two free alterations per year, discounts on custom embroidery, and direct-to garment printing. Further, the RedTab program offers “exclusive member moments,” such as a free back-patch swap on Valentine’s Day so members can customize jeans instead of V-day cards. Members also earned app access to Levi’s collaborations, such as with the vintage brand Bentgablenits, in which Levi’s apparel were used as canvases for Bentgablenits’ signature flower embellishments.
  4. The program to watch for being easy-going – Chipotle Rewards. The setup of this fast-casual chain’s reward program is as straightforward as the ingredients on its menu: spend $1, earn 10 points, redeem. Members can earn points online, in restaurants and in the rewards app. If they participate in the programs “Extras” gamification feature, they earn double points for participating in personalized challenges and receive achievement badges. This activity provides Chipotle with real-time, detailed customer data. Members can cash in points for free food, Chipotle-branded products (love the “chips” and “guac” sandals), or donate them to a partner cause, such as the National Young Farmers Coalition.
  5. The program to watch for its generous spirit – REI Co-op. REI’s fee-based program has succeeded in making its members feel spoiled. Each customer is automatically enrolled in the co-op and receives a $30 bonus gift card. Members get free shipping, bonus cards that can be mailed direct, special pricing on products, bike repair, and outdoor excursions, as well as free shipping. Eligible purchases are eligible for a 10% bonus. REI Co-op members are also able to give back by signing up. REI contributes $5 for every lifetime membership to its REI Cooperative Action Fund which supports outdoor culture, well-being, and well-being.
  6. The program to watch for its smarts – Club Publix. Yeah, Amazon may seem like the obvious choice, with its 200 million Prime members and Amazon Web Service, but we’re giving the nod to Publix for the tailored bundle of digital shopping tools in its rewards initiative. These sharply focused app-based technologies, including payment scanning, product replenishment and e-receipts, generate the kinds of customer data that make operational sense to the chain – and therefore, to its customers. Club Publix members get customized perks and offers, along with first notice about new products and deals, for goods they purchase. Even enrollment is smart: shoppers merely have to text the word “JOIN” to 782549. Publix’s first three quarters 2022 sales gains were likely due to this membership base.

This is the Program Most Likely to Succeed

In 2023, any program that combines the above qualities and more will be successful. However, different programs will have different levels of success. It is crucial to define the goals early in order to achieve them. Program leaders who spend the time to understand what they want and then plan the steps to reach them will be rewarded.

Of course, this list is not complete. Many loyal operators and shoppers would most likely give these honors to other programs. But that’s the nature of loyalty initiatives – they represent different opportunities and benefits to different consumers. The best programs know their audience at every stage.