Every business needs loyal customers, keeping customers is hard but acquiring new customers is more expensive. Kenyans are a fickle lot and as a marketer, you need to keep thinking about how to win their loyalty.
This, however, is not insurmountable when you understand Kenyans’ love for freebies. So once in a while brands will enlist a marketing agency to think outside the box and unearth truly creative campaigns such as this one (insert link) to get more customers.
Once you come through the door, they have to keep you coming back. So they tell you how much they value your loyalty and would love to reward you every time you shop.
You are given a Loyalty Card, and every time you shop you earn some points based on the value of your shopping. Then a seasonal campaign is created to remind you how you can redeem those points for a hefty discount on your shopping or buy something for free.
Psychologically marketers know that this will lead to customers choosing more because they want to grow their loyalty points. This was the case with millions of loyal Kenyan shoppers of Nakumatt, Uchumi and Tuskys.
Every month customers queued and shopped. What was once a calf grew into a big elephant, in every corner of the country? Then one day the elephant fell sick, now we have millions of Kenyans with Nakumatt, Uchumi, and Tuskys Loyalty Cards full of points that have been deemed redundant.
As a marketer, this was not something that I thought of seriously until recently. I had a chat with some friends about the woes that have seen great retail giants in Kenya like Nakumatt, Uchumi & Tuskys fall.
One friend asked, “So what happens to my points, can I redeem them?” I had to urge them to forget about those because these establishments will not rebound.
As a marketer, this made me realize that in this day when we live in a digital world brands need to stop being selfish.
The Future of retailer loyalty programs
In an industry where data and analytics is a key trend, it’s very easy to research other brands that you share customers with and have a partnership where points earned from either side can be redeemed on either side.
One example is the KCB Simba Points program. Customers love it when they can redeem their points as they shop online or at a partner store, or while they fuel at a partner petrol station.
Or the partnership between Safaricom & Kenya Airways where KQ customers can pay for flights using their Bonga points.
In contrast, I have a friend who will not shop at a leading international retail chain in Kenya again because they do not have a loyalty programme.
Also most people now despite being hooked on these loyalty programmes are fatigued at having to carry too many cards around for each business they interact with.
Therefore while at it, brands have to identify technology partnerships that enable them to have a universal card shared across different companies or eliminate cards and instead have, say, a mobile application where a customer’s points are loaded from different businesses.