Love is in the air for Singapore’s marketers. Or at least it should be, according to recent research that reveals three in four Singaporean consumers will solidify their brand relationships if wooed with personalised rewards and other enticements.
The findings also come at a time when Singaporeans’ love affair with shopping is showing some strain. Despite modest year-on-year sales growth of 2%, the high street has experienced a wave of high-profile closures, the most recent being venerable Singapore department store John Little.
So it is crucial that brands lift their game in this environment. Consumers may want enduring relationships, but they remain lukewarm to retailers: Of the 750 consumers canvassed by ICLP, just 3% expressed loyalty to their preferred retail brands.
Then again, this lack of passion offers brands and retailers the chance to shine by exploring creative ways to “tug at consumers’ heartstrings,” according to Bruno Tay, ICLP’s Singapore manager.
That means connecting at a deeper level by fostering trust and affinity through value-added services or tailored rewards, Tay said.
“Consumers need a reason to stay loyal to brands, just like the way they invest in relationships with friends and loved ones,” he said. Additionally, building rapport via social media and word-of-mouth leads to a more relatable company persona, Tay added.
Jayson Frazer, general manager of Melbourne-based marketing agency The Incentive Lab, said he believes brands need to overcome certain obstacles to capitalise on this opportunity.
“The more personalised and delightful the reward becomes, the more costly it becomes to the retailer,” Frazer said, adding that, unbeknownst to consumers, every loyalty program has a “feasibility limit.” In other words, constraints exist on how much cash can be allotted to a program.
Woe to marketers who stubbornly insist on seeing business through a cold commercial lens. They will fail to connect at all with consumers if they just keep pushing the same old products or promotions.
Marketers who grasp the value of establishing authentic connections should also be wary of offering the sorts of generic perks that are everywhere, Tay said. In his view, the way to tailor rewards is through tapping the power of data science.
“Clearly, in this age of digital technology and data proliferation, brands have an opportunity to leverage deep behavioural insights to deepen their relationships with consumers and add value to their lives in unprecedented ways,” Tay said.
Frazer, whose clients include BMW and Samsung, believes well-crafted programs that suit both consumers and retailers should do enough to reward and inspire loyalty at a sustainable cost that delivers a measurable return on investment.
Frazer’s personal take on inspiring that loyalty is to keep in mind that romance is subjective. So, mindful of who they are targeting, marketers should shortlist some ideas, then focus-group the strategies that hold the most promise. The one that wins the nod should be affordable, but be prepared to take an adventurous tilt.
“To make a really emotional impact, you cannot go past travel as a reward,” Frazer said. “If that doesn’t work from a budget perspective, get creative and use the people or contacts in the business to create unique and cool experiences.”
He cited a meet-and-greet with a designer or celebrity, or dinner with the chief executive or company founder–soothing music and candles might help establish the right romantic ambience between brand and customer.