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A Loyalty Program is Only as Good as its Benefits – A Look at 7 Unique Programs

Loyalty programs are only as good as the benefits consumers can earn from them.

The more value you offer your customers through your loyalty program benefits, the more successful and engaging it will be. And the more unique benefits offered in a loyalty program, the better.

Many loyalty programs focus on transactional benefits, but these are the easier benefits that can be duplicated by any brand.

Unique loyalty programs offer experiential benefits.

But there are some programs out there, traditional and premium, that do a great job of figuring out their customers and offering incredible experiences as a part of their programs. Those are the benefits that are hard to replicate, and the ones that really make these programs special. Being unique helps your brand stand out.

Here are some unique retail loyalty programs:

 

Lululemon 

This is a premium loyalty program that carries an annual membership fee of $168. 

Included in this fee are:

  • A free pair of yoga pants
  • Free workout classes
  • Curated events
  • Live digital workshops designed and facilitated by lululemon to help navigate all of life’s twists and turns
  • Passes for members’ friends and family
  • Early access to select product releases

Lululemon combines transactional and experiential benefits to create differentiation and build sustainable emotional connections through its program. These benefits help form emotional bonds between members and Lululemon because they provide a feeling of exclusivity. Lululemon knows how valuable these experiences are to their loyal members. The experiential benefits satisfy an emotional desire for exclusivity. 

Company officials listen to their passionate customers and give them what they want in this highly successful and engaging program. They keep the program fresh because they continue to listen to members and meet their expectations and desires. 

 

Sephora Beauty Insider 

Beauty Insider has long been recognized as one of the best loyalty programs because of its various experiential benefits. 

Sephora does a great job of engaging members and keeping the program fresh and exciting. 

Beauty Insider makes members feel they’re getting exclusive access and benefits, and that typically leads to emotional connections and brand loyalty. Consumers who sign up receive access to things like the Beauty Insider Community and beauty classes without having to spend anything at all.  

Members that spend $350 annually gain access to the VIB tier, which offers free gifts and one makeover per year. Members who spend $1,000 annually are upgraded to Rouge status where they have access to a private hotline and exclusive events.  

Exclusivity is the key to why Beauty Insider members value the program’s unique benefits because it makes a loyalty program more attractive, compelling, and desirable. 

Ninety-four percent of Americans would take advantage of an exclusive offer. 

 

Walmart+ 

This premium loyalty program, which launched in September 2020, is unique in that it targets Walmart’s grocery shoppers.  

Walmart is the largest grocer in the U.S., so it makes sense this program targets these shoppers. 

While Walmart+ doesn’t offer experiential benefits like lululemon, it delivers grocery customers the ultimate set of rewards that to improve their quality of life.  

Those benefits include a prescription savings program; unlimited free delivery from stores; mobile Scan & Go; and fuel discounts.   

When Walmart+ launched, Janey Whiteside, the company’s Chief Customer Officer, said the program was designed as a “life hack” for customers.  

“Walmart+ will bring together a comprehensive set of benefits where we see the greatest needs from our customers and where our scale can bring solutions at an unprecedented value. Instead of trying to launch a me-too version of Amazon Prime, Walmart catered to its grocery shoppers with a unique program full of value. 

 

The North Face XPLR Pass Program

You know The North Face has to offer a loyalty program geared toward experiential benefits. 

And it does. 

Apparel and outdoor gear retailer The North Face incentivizes loyalty members to earn more and more rewards by offering flexibility in how they’re redeemed—with options tailored to match its customers’ lifestyles. 

Customers can earn points with the XPLR Pass program in the traditional way on every purchase, and in some unique ways. Like attending The North Face events, checking in at certain locations, and downloading The North Face app. 

When it comes time to redeem rewards, customers can use points toward unique travel experiences, like a mountain climbing adventure in Nepal. 

“The XPLR Pass offers so many cool benefits for its members, like early access to limited edition collections and collaborations, opportunity to wear test products before they’re made available to the public, and product ‘field testing,’” explains Andrea Bosoni, founder of  Zero To Marketing. 

For members to be able to use points toward unique travel experiences is truly differentiating and sets this program apart. These unique program benefits make sense for The North Face customers because of their passion for outdoor events and travel. 

 

REI Co-op

With only a $20 lifetime membership, REI’s premium loyalty program seems too good to be true. 

Along the same theme as The North Face, REI customers are passionate about the outdoors and the experiential benefits in this program make perfect sense. 

Some of those experiential benefits include: 

  • Get special member pricing on REI Adventures trips. Choose from more than 150 experiences around the world 
  • Outside classes and events 
  • Used gear trade-in 
  • Insider tips
  • Members rent for less 

For members of REI Co-op, they can enjoy various adventures offered around the world. Anyone can go on an adventure, but they are heavily discounted for members. 

As a member-owned co-operative, REI focuses on shared values. 

While the program offers transactional benefits, the star attraction is the experiential element. This allows members to participate in and experience the brand lifestyle, which builds lasting emotional connections. 

Tailoring your loyalty program benefits around the desires of your customers is always a win-win situation.  

 

Best Buy Beta  

This program is full of valuable benefits.   

For $199 per year, or $179 if you have a Best Buy credit card, members receive:   

  • Unlimited tech support from the Geek Squad.  
  • Round-the-clock concierge service.      
  • Free installation of many appliances and products.   

This pilot program launched in several Best Buy stores around the country earlier this year. And this is a great example of giving your customers loyalty options.   

Best Buy has a traditional program called My Best Buy, where members earn points for every eligible purchase.   

Having a traditional loyalty program with a premium loyalty tier, like Best Buy Beta, makes sense for retailers and covers all your bases.   

For Best Buy customers, offering them a premium loyalty program that includes unlimited tech support from the Geek Squad makes perfect sense since it is a premier service offered by the retailer.   

Best Buy Beta includes everything offered in the top tier of the traditional program, plus all the experiential benefits. While it has several transactional benefits, the program focuses on the experiential benefits.  

Premium loyalty program members are your best customers who spend more, engage more, and talk to others more about your brand.  

 

CVS CarePass 

Like Best Buy, CVS combines traditional (CVS ExtraCare) and premium (CVS CarePass) programs.   

CVS ExtraCare is a great traditional loyalty program that offers cash back and extra savings for members – and it’s free to sign up for.   

For CVS’s top customers, CarePass was introduced for $5 per month.   

This premium loyalty tier offers free delivery on eligible prescriptions, as well as fast, free shipping and instant discounts on certain CVS Health brand items and monthly rewards that can be used in-store and online.  

But the real unique benefit here is members have access to a live pharmacist chat line 24/7. It’s a great program for those who value those benefits.   

 

Offer Brands that Other Brands Can’t Easily Duplicate 

Consumers are shopping in multiple stores now, ahead of the holiday season, so prepare yourself and make sure your loyalty program is engaging and enticing.   

Successful and engaging loyalty programs typically combine transactional and experiential benefits. 

Transactional benefits draw consumers in while experiential benefits help retain them in the long run.  

Does your loyalty program combine transactional and experiential benefits to create a unique offering?  

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