Best-in-Class Loyalty Program Features Worth Emulating: Part Three

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Dream up exclusive rewards that are both meaningful and valuable.

As you’re creating blueprints for highly valued tiers in your loyalty program, ask yourself this: “How does your loyalty program support your brand?” Sophisticated, targeted tiers should not simply provide a specific reward when a spending threshold is met, but instead should deliver benefits and features that make your program unique and help maintain your brand’s unique attributes.

With out-of-the box thinking, you can create a program that’s compelling for your customers — and difficult for your competitors to duplicate.

In Parts One and Two of our best-in-class loyalty program series, we reviewed a variety of ways companies are promoting ongoing customer engagement — from sleeper programs like the North Face VIPeak Rewards to behemoths such as Sears Shop Your Way Rewards.

In Part Three of our series, we look at a few shining examples of how companies have gone above and beyond in creating unique and compelling tiers to reward higher spending customers.

Tiers Offer Big Spenders Big Variety
Okay, so seven tiers may be a bit much. (Just ask a Macy’s Star Rewards member how confusing multiple tiers can be!) But Neiman Marcus’ InCircle can get away with it: Although they have a comparatively complicated program, the benefits offered at each tier pique enough interest to keep even the most discriminating customer intrigued.

All InCircle members earn two points for every dollar charged on their Neiman Marcus card. Once 10,000 InCircle points are earned, members receive a $100 Point Card to use toward future purchases.

Higher-tiered rewards members can also receive complimentary gift packaging, free two-day online shipping, double points and a $25 perk card, among other benefits. It’s not just the spending thresholds that set InCircle apart, but also the way they’ve made sure that each level is meaningful for its members — whether it’s concierge service for Circle Four or the fitting room experience for Circle Six. Studies repeatedly show that today’s consumers respond to services and experiences — especially the more affluent demographics.

What may be the greatest benefit, though, is the cachet of being a top-tier member of an exclusive club. Just ask those who qualify for the ultra-elite eighth level: Chairman’s Club, exclusively for those who spend $600,000+ a year.

Meaningful Tiers Set You Apart
Creating compelling benefits for each specific type of spender differentiates you from your competitors and adds value in a way no other program can. Assemble a brainstorming team to think beyond traditional rewards and search for benefits that are uniquely fitting for your product or service. Here’s one example of a company that used this concept to differentiate itself amidst the challenge of selling one of the most commoditized products in the marketplace today — electronics.

Best Buy has been using My Best Buy Rewards to separate itself from the pack. Customer tiers include perks, such as price-matching, that help differentiate the retailer from online competitors such as Amazon, while also offering help and expertise from a live person.

In addition to earning points on every purchase, members receive free shipping on purchases of at least $35, plus access to special sales and a free product setup helpline. Members who drop $2,500 in a calendar year are elevated to Premier Silver status and earn an additional .25 points for every dollar spent, plus access to a free helpline, expedited shipping, one Geek Squad visit per year, and other nice extras.

Best Buy also took a unique approach to engage a unique segment of customers — gamers. Rather than adding benefits to the main Reward Zone program, the electronics retailer went one better by creating the Reward Zone Gamers Club. Avid gamers, who burn through the latest games, score two points per dollar for gaming purchases and trade-ins (250 points earns a $5 reward certificate).

Tiers Should Fit Your Customers to a “T”
Designing unique, compelling benefits for program tiers is a challenge, but not an impossible one. Understanding your customers, your brand proposition and your competitors is just the beginning. Remember to take a step back and push yourself out of your comfort zone as you take an atypical approach to tiering that will make customers not only jump at the chance to join your loyalty program, but also stay engaged over time.

For a little more inspiration on making your rewards program one to emulate make sure to read Part One of this series.


For a more in-depth evaluation of your tiering options, and some creative brainstorming for inventive new reward features, call on the CCG loyalty experts. Customer engagement is our forté. With more than 30 years of helping clients build better loyalty programs, we can set you on the right track. Call us at 800.525.0313.

Customer Communications Group, Inc., is not responsible for products or services offered by third parties or websites mentioned and provides such information and sites solely for your convenience.