Setting annual goals can be a precarious venture. We can easily set goals that are too vague or too lofty for us to maintain focus. A recurring condition of executive level presentations these days is to "keep it tight," "make it clear" and "do it in no more than 10 pages." And so, I've elected to forecast the most important trends and areas of change in customer and loyalty marketing in 2014 using just three words:
Disruption: There will be continued disruption of Consumer Value Propositions (CVP) and the technology that delivers loyalty programs in 2014. These changes continue to evolve and I don't think any honest person can definitively say they completely understand and can accurately predict exactly how consumers make purchase decisions. Data-driven loyalty marketing programs in particular have to change to meet consumers, not just where they are, but where they will be in two years. The rewards must also reach the right customers as opposed to all customers.
The technology that enables customer communication and offer delivery is changing too. In just the past month, I have seen a Belly enabled iPad set up in a UPS store; an iPad POS system from Revel Systems in another local retailer; and POS driven loyalty programs at several franchise operations. The question for 2014 is whether larger brands will continue to pay huge prices for enterprise loyalty systems "because they can" or whether they will increasingly experiment with alternate solutions "because they can."
(In)Security: With the recent security breaches at Target and Nieman Marcus, the NSA scandal and the current scare campaign supported by Microsoft warning consumers to resist being "Scroogled," consumers may become more hesitant in 2014 to share their data with brands. Legislation could be introduced at the Congressional level to shift ownership of customer data from the brand back to the consumer.
One thing is certain: the burden will be on marketers to show "why" they are asking consumers for specific data points and "how" they are using it. Marketers will need to demonstrate they are listening to their customers and how they return tangible value to customers in return for the data they have "borrowed."
Context: Are we using the channels that are most relevant to our customers? Do our customers want to collect points, redeem instant surprise rewards, play a game with us, or is there another model we can try? How close to the point of purchase can we engage our customers? These are all questions that we expect to be answering during the year.
Which of the three themes mentioned in the article will be most significant for loyalty marketing in 2014: disruption, (in)security or context? Are there other trends that you think are as or more important?