This vendor-written piece has been edited by Executive Networks Media to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favour the submitter's approach.
Loyalty programmes will evolve in 2016 as brands continue to pursue higher levels of engagement. Convergence - bringing platforms, technology, and data closer together - is set to be the theme of the year. Brands' focus will be on establishing loyalty within a streamlined everyday shopping experience in order to create more value and a better experience for programme members. To do this, they will work at bridging the gap between on- and offline loyalty activity, tapping into the trend for mobile payments, and expanding the data sets they use to enhance the relevance of offers. Here are three trends to watch:
Creating a multichannel experience
The growth of multichannel retail to address the needs of the modern 'always on' consumer has transformed brands' approach to customer engagement. In 2016, brands in the travel and hospitality sector will continue to emulate this 'ever-present' multichannel experience and embed their loyalty programmes within it. Mobile, increasingly consumers' primary online platform, will be a particular focus.
The multichannel approach relies on finding not only the right brand partners and inventory, but also the right technology partners to build the links between on- and offline platforms. In 2016, travel brands will explore ways to use their physical footprints to create experiences that connect consumers back to their online loyalty platforms. Airlines could, for instance, create earning and redemption opportunities for travellers around products and services they have experienced during their travel journey - from the lounge through to the flight itself.
Integrating loyalty further into everyday transactions
Contactless and mobile payments are expected to grow rapidly across Asia-Pacific, where nearly half of consumers across the region - and 38 percent in Singapore - have made a purchase using their smartphones, according to a 2015 survey. Almost seven in 10 respondents across Southeast Asia chose to shop at stores offering contactless payments options, and the number of mobile payment terminals worldwide is estimated to rise from eight million in 2013 to 18 million in 2017 according to Annapolis Consulting Group. The arrivals of Visa payWave, MasterCard's PayPass and NETS FlashPay have given contactless payments a jump-start, and Singaporeis taking significant steps towards becoming a cashless society, driven largely by millennial consumers' desire for an immediate and seamless shopping experience, on- or offline.
Translating the seamlessness of the contactless payment experience from offline into online shopping will be key; social media sites' testing of 'Buy Now' buttons within sponsored posts is one example of how some brands are trying to achieve this. Loyalty programmes, too, will become more deeply integrated into this joined-up retail landscape, making rewards more attainable and earning and redemption opportunities more accessible. Brands will expand their portfolio of loyalty programme partners so that tapped transactions become synonymous with earning points, perhaps even looking beyond the 'usual suspects' of retailers to extend the influence of loyalty into other everyday consumer spending - imagine earning points every time you tap in on public transport using a contactless card.
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