Use your company loyalty program as a tool for good.
When retailers and brands build out their loyalty programs, it’s easy to only consider purchases or visits per store when rewarding customers with points. But as tens of thousands of companies selling products and services are finding out – consumers, especially rising Gen Z consumers and millennials, are making sustainability, the climate, social responsibility and equity a major deciding factor when making purchasing decisions.
And happy customers are no longer satisfied with lip service. As customer data from a McKinsey report showed, “Authenticity is important, but customers are increasingly expecting that efforts are backed up by data,” according to Clarisse Magnin, a McKinsey senior partner.
According to Aflac’s annual CSR report, 77% of consumers are committed to purchasing from brands that are committed to making the world a better place. Those marketing to gen z successfully understand that quality and price are no longer the only two factors that count. Buying from corporations whose values align with their own is the single biggest trend we’ve seen this decade. And the younger the consumer audience, the more corporate social responsibility impacts their buying decisions
All this boils down to one thing: incorporating social responsibility may have once been a box to check, but today, it will determine whether consumers will buy from you or not. Ultimately, it will determine whether your brand will succeed – or fail.
But as McKinsey noted, consumer engagement needs to authentic. It needs to show your brand’s dedication in a real and meaningful way. Consumer loyalty will go to the brands that can most realistically connect their brand their mission statements in a way that makes sense.
Your shoppers want to connect with your mission. Help them do it.
So you know that you need to focus on social responsibility and you know you have to get your customers to understand your commitment to your mission. But besides changing vendors, sourcing products from more sustainable sources and implementing equity policies across your team, what can you do? How can you connect with consumers on an individual basis? How can you empower them to take initiative and act for themselves? And how can you make sure that they’re aware of your ongoing dedication to sustainability?
Use Loyalty as a tool for good
The most overlooked answer lies within your own loyalty program. Loyalty programs are the perfect way to align your customers with your brand’s mission and dedication to your mission statement while improving user engagement and increasing customer retention at the same time.
Use well structured rewards, coupled with targeted smart campaigns to create user journeys that offer customers more than just points for visiting or shopping with you. Even if you have an existing program in place, existing customers will appreciate the steps you’re taking towards mission alignment and as 76% of corporate executives understand, brands with strong corporate social responsibility have much higher share-holder value and customer satisfaction. And most of all, you make your customers part of the solution. And active customers that feel good shopping with you, are significantly more likely to make repeat purchases.
4 key ways to drive social impact through your loyalty programs
1) Reward customers for consuming educational content.
If every company’s commitment to social responsibility was as clean cut as Warby Parker’s commitment to donating a pair of glasses for every pair purchased, we wouldn’t need to have this discussion. The truth is, the ways you align with your brand mission probably can’t be explained in a 10 word social media post.
Your commitment to social responsibility might mean that you’ve swapped out your existing plastics vendor for a more sustainable, recycled plastics vendor. Or that you’ve made active steps towards reducing your total plastics consumption altogether. It may not sound sexy – but it is valuable and it is important. And your customers will agree.
So why not create content around the different types of plastics that exist and their life-cycles? Where do they come from? What happens to them when your consumer is finished with your product? Point out what you were doing before in your manufacturing process and what you’re doing now. Tell your audience how these are steps towards your ultimate ideal and explain what that ideal looks like for your company.
Then, quiz them. Give them points for internalizing the knowledge they consumed through your videos and blog posts. Give them points in your customer loyalty program for participating in your mission by bringing in recyclable plastics, or getting involved with local clean ups in their communities.
2) Reward customers for their donations or encourage them to bring back packaging you can reuse
If you’re looking to incorporate building customer loyalty program into social responsibility while encouraging repeat visits, this has to be the way to go. There are multiple ways to do this while also improving customer experience with your store or brand.
Encourage your customers to either bring in donatable items to your store or donate to approved community centers in their neighborhoods for points. If donated items don’t necessarily align with your corporate mission, encourage customers to reuse their packaging, or bring it back to you for points instead. This way, you can doubly incentivize your customers to both act in accordance with your brand’s mission while also enticing them to become repeat visitors.
3) Convert points into donations
It doesn’t always make sense to create media around your impact strategies and have customers read them. And any e-tailer knows that physically bringing in donations or packaging is a nonstarter. So what about allowing customers to convert points from purchases into funds or products to donate to causes in need. Delta’s done an excellent job with their miles program but any store or brand can do the same with hard dollars. You can even keep it simple and keep your existing points to dollar ratio and create an impact donation reward to give your customers the ability to redeem their rewards points for donation dollars to your brand-aligned social cause.
4) Throw gas on the flame: Gameify your social impact program to maximize impact
You can exchange actions and donations for points. You can have people donate their points to your causes. You can leave it there and call it a day. And it will definitely increase your social impact. But what if you could take it one step further? If you really want your mission in front of your customers, especially younger millennials and gen Zers, consider layering your loyalty program in tiers to increase your engagement metrics significantly.
Consider tiered badges, special perks, and mission-oriented rewards for those who participate in this arena of your loyalty program. You can even work with programs like Impact Wallet to track how far your customers donations have gone in terms of doing good.
Use your loyalty program as a power for good
You’ve been doing good things. Your brand represents good things. Make sure your customers can see the work you do so they can recognize you by integrating their purchasing behavior into your loyalty program and mission. Get your customers to consider their actions in real time with their contributions to fighting climate change, increasing social equity and creating a better world for our future – all while increasing participation in your loyalty program.