THE CLARUS Blog

Can Premium Loyalty Cater to Any Type of Retailer?

No matter what industry you work in, whether it’s apparel or grocery or electronics, you’ve probably been hearing about premium loyalty programs.

These programs offer the best of your brand to your most loyal customers in exchange for a membership fee.

They allow brands to differentiate themselves by offering attractive benefits in their respective loyalty programs. Elevated benefits coupled with a clear value proposition fill the calling card of every premium loyalty program.

What you might be wondering is whether a premium loyalty program can cater to your specific category.

So, are there industries that are more conducive to premium loyalty?

 

Premium Loyalty Isn’t Industry Specific

Because premium loyalty programs typically target a brand’s top 20% of its customers, you might think that they’re only effective in certain categories.

But, the beauty of premium loyalty is it can impact any retail category at any price point.

Consider the following premium loyalty programs that involve very different retail verticals:

 

Sephora’s Beauty Insider:

The Beauty Insider program provides members with many experiential benefits. 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. That equates to 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.

 

Restoration Hardware:

On the higher end of the pricing spectrum and in a much different category, RH decided to abandon all promotions and go all-in on premium loyalty.

Restoration Hardware’s RH Members Program charges members a $100 annual fee in return for 25% savings on all full-priced items and an additional 20% savings on all sale items. That math makes sense because of the higher price of most products sold there.

Experiential benefits include a concierge service to manage your orders and early access to clearance events.

 

Cinemark Movie Rewards:

Earlier this year officials at Cinemark launched a new and improved loyalty program called Cinemark Movie Rewards.

Cinemark Movie Rewards combines Cinemark Connections, Cinemark’s existing free loyalty program, and Movie Club, the monthly membership program, which gives loyalty members the opportunity to choose between two tiers: Movie Fan and Movie Club.

Cinemark launched the upgraded loyalty program after extensive consumer research.

Cinemark Movie Rewards gives members greater access to free tickets, special events, and food and beverage rewards. Cinemark Movie Rewards uses a points-per-dollar approach, allowing members to earn and track points easily.

 

Wayfair’s MyWay:

Wayfair, which offers one of the world’s largest online selections of furniture, home furnishings, décor, and goods, including more than eight million products, launched a premium loyalty program called MyWay last year.

The program carries with it an annual membership fee of $29.99. MyWay members receive benefits including access to insider sales, 25 percent discounts on installation and assembly services, free shipping with no minimum, and next-day delivery.

MyWay’s benefits can be applied to purchases at its Joss & Main, AllModern, and Birch Lane banners.

 

Barnes & Noble:

This program offers 40% off the list price of the current hardcover Barnes & Noble Store Bestsellers, and 10 percent off the marked Barnes & Noble sale price of other eligible items.

The program mixes bonus coupons ($60 worth after joining), exclusive member offers, and automatic renewal. It’s apparent that the program’s transactional benefits inspire the members’ ongoing experience of reading.

All of these programs really hit home on a few key elements.

 

Premium Loyalty Has These Things in Common

No matter what the category, all premium loyalty programs have certain things in common that increase engagement with your customers.

These programs put the customer at the center to solve pain points and provide a great experience – experiences customers can’t get anywhere else.

The transaction elements are also valuable and easy to understand. The value proposition is clear.

And these programs are constantly optimized to make sure they’re always providing value to members.

To see premium loyalty at its best, look no further than Amazon’s highly successful Prime program.

With 100 million members officially, Prime serves as the gold standard among all premium loyalty programs.

For Amazon, the strategy has always been simple. Figure out customer pain points and remove them.

It all began with Amazon truly listening to its customers.

Back in 2005, customers told Amazon that shipping costs were their biggest pain point. As a result, Amazon removed those costs by launching Prime. For a $79 annual fee ($99 today), customers enjoyed free two-day shipping and competitors scrambled to compete.

A key component to Prime’s success is Amazon’s ability to add in new and exciting benefits to an already enticing program.

Here’s a lesson that every retailer can take from Amazon: Don’t rest on your laurels. Always listen to your customers and optimize your program.

Consumers desire a clear and attractive value proposition. This is what premium loyalty programs offer and why they can be effective in any industry.

When consumers are offered enticing benefits and experiences from a brand, the industry it’s connected to doesn’t matter at all if the value is clearly seen.

A premium loyalty tier allows a brand to offer benefits that extend beyond typical transactional incentives. These benefits can take many forms, including convenience perks such as free shipping and returns, as well as experiential ones that deepen consumers’ emotional ties with a brand.

 

Consumers Want Premium Loyalty Programs

It’s apparent that many consumers want to be members of premium loyalty programs. Retailers must also do more to earn and retain customer loyalty.

According to our 2019 Premium Loyalty Study, nearly 70% of consumers agree their loyalty is more difficult for retailers to maintain than ever before.

More than half of all survey respondents (58%) currently belong to a premium program while just under two-thirds (65%) of those who belong to a paid loyalty program plan to join additional programs in the next 12 months.

On top of those stats, 31% of consumers say they have yet to join a paid loyalty program because the retailers they shop with don’t offer them.

Don’t you want to be the one in your category to give people what they want?

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