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Loyalty programs and innovation, experts reveal all
Wed, 31st Jan 2024

The loyalty landscape is in the midst of a profound transformation, propelled by rapid technological strides and evolving consumer behaviours. The traditional concept of brand allegiance is undergoing a significant makeover as newer generations, equipped with digital fluency and a preference for authenticity, reshape the very essence of loyalty programs.

To provide a comprehensive understanding of this dynamic terrain, we turned to the voices shaping the future of loyalty. In candid conversations, both seasoned Australian Loyalty Association (ALA) experts and up-and-coming talents from the ALA Young Members Group share their unique insights and experiences. 

Let’s hear directly from the industry trailblazers:

Graham Webb, Marketing Manager-CTP, Suncorp Group

What excites you about the future of loyalty? Consumers’ expectations keep rising because of technology and UX experiences in other areas of their lives; so there will always be opportunities to adapt loyalty programs to meet their needs.

Advice for loyalty professionals: Spend time to understand two things: one, how customers engage with your brand beyond your loyalty program, and two, how the economics of your program work. Having a strong understanding of the bigger picture will help you make better decisions.

Aziz Kastoun, Junior Account Executive APAC, Eagle Eye 

What excites you about the future of loyalty? I personally believe that the future of loyalty is one-to-one, treating me like how an independent shopkeeper would. That means knowing my name and the things that are important to me and rewarding me for every dollar I spend.

The shift is happening now, technology is allowing for it. Loyalty leaders know how important it is to put the effort in. So I’m looking forward to seeing how ideas, innovations and technology are going to be adopted by Australia’s most loved brands and their programs moving into the future.

What is your favourite loyalty program? As a self-proclaimed fashionist, I’m a big fan of the Perks by CottonOn & Co program, which gives me birthday and seasonal offers and allows me to exchange for dollars off my shop. I will, however, give a special shout-out to the Woolworths Everyday Rewards program, as it’s the one I use the most. It makes me feel savvy and rewarded and the offers feel truly personalised to me.

Richard Segar, Platform Architect, Simplicity Loyalty 

What excites you about the future of loyalty? There are some changes in legalisation in Australia and New Zealand, in particular, that will come into effect over the next few years. This, combined with the rapid changes and adoption of certain technologies, creates potential concern around trust, making now an interesting time to be in any role relating to brand and customer.

With particular interest in the changes coming for third-party data and privacy, I’m excited to see how brands develop and leverage loyalty programs and emerging technologies over the next few years to encourage engagement with their brand and build trust as well as stronger relationships, not just with customers, but staff and business partners too.

What is your favourite loyalty program? Club Clipsal

Stephanie Barr, Loyalty Senior Manager, AGL Australia

What excites you about the future of loyalty? Loyalty is at the forefront of marketing data science, and I can't wait to see how loyalty marketers are able to use this data in the future to form even more meaningful customer brand connections.

Advice for loyalty professionals: Be curious and listen to your loyal customers.

Jaimi Farrey, Senior Loyalty and Personalisation Manager, Grill’d

What excites you about the future of loyalty? What excites me about the future of loyalty are the possibilities that will be unlocked due to new and emerging technologies. Instead of loyalty professionals spending time manually performing tasks like segmenting customers and data, technology will allow us to be more agile, use AI and machine learning to identify key segments and unlock 1:1 personalisation faster than ever before. This will free up our time to focus more on the human element of loyalty, driving emotional connections and building customer-centric experiences.

I’m also excited to build experiences for upcoming generations, from Gen Z to Gen Alpha. These generations are digital natives and care more about the environment than ever before. CSR initiatives will no longer be the exception but will be expected. Loyalty providers will have to adapt to a changing landscape that rewards members for engaging with brands in a more ethical way and allows brands to tell their stories to an engaged audience.

Advice for the future loyalty professionals: Learn, learn, learn. The loyalty and technology industries will continue to evolve at a rapid pace, so staying on top of key trends, new technologies and consumer interests is so important so you don’t fall behind. Even if you are at a company that isn’t innovative and takes longer to implement change, you won’t be there forever, and it’s key you have that wider industry knowledge for when it’s time to move on. 

Connect with other loyalty professionals and follow key thought leaders not only in the loyalty industry but across different technologies and in different industries and verticals to where you’re currently working. But remember, at the heart of it all is the customer and providing a great experience for them.

Graham Webb, Marketing Manager-CTP, Suncorp Group

What excites you about the future of loyalty? Consumers’ expectations keep rising because of technology and UX experiences in other areas of their lives; so there will always be opportunities to adapt loyalty programs to meet their needs.

Advice for loyalty professionals: Spend time to understand two things: one, how customers engage with your brand beyond your loyalty program, and two, how the economics of your program work. Having a strong understanding of the bigger picture will help you make better decisions.

Loyalty Redefined

As we look forward, the future of loyalty is not confined to buzzwords or futuristic ideals – it's a real-time collaboration between brands and consumers, leveraging technology, innovation and a keen understanding of evolving consumer expectations. The practical advice and experiences shared by these industry leaders guide us not toward an uncertain future but toward a loyalty landscape defined by authenticity, responsiveness and meaningful engagement.

The ALA Young Members Group at a glance

Launched at the end of August 2022 for ALA members aged 18–30 years old, the ALA Young Members Group is the first loyalty group of its kind in Australia. It has been designed to foster and mentor the next generation of Loyalty Marketers, providing access to education courses, events and senior members of the community.