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Loyalty programs delivering fun mobile experiences attract millennials

With recent research showing that fun experiences are key to loyalty for millennials, savvy marketers such as Sephora, Pepsi and Target are leveraging mobile to bring elements of gaming, social media and relevant content for more enjoyable programs. 

The millennial demographic needs to be reached with a variety of different tactics compared to other consumers, as their values vastly differ from others, according to a new survey from Colloquy. Marketers need to focus on creating meaningful experiences rather than economic gains when it comes to reaching millennials through loyalty and mobile, as these consumers hold this type of marketing in much higher regard. 

"The numbers in our Collogquy research, a nationwide survey of 1,000 American consumers, tell the story here," said Jeff Berry, research director at Colloquy. "They show that mobile plays a major role in keeping it fun for millennials. 

"It is clear that millennials enjoy technological prowess in their programs," he said. "In fact, our survey shows that 42 percent of millennials continue to participate in a program because it has a mobile payment option. 

"By comparison, only 15 percent of baby boomers said the same. Additionally, 18 percent of millennials said they stopped using a program because it lacked a smartphone app, versus just 13 percent of overall survey takers."  

Mobile loyalty
Mobile has taken loyalty programs into a new age of interactive experiences and rewards rather than simply a punch card from days of the past. Marketers now have the tools to create a truly unique and gratifying experience for users, which is now required to effectively reach millennials as they have been born into a world of enriching experiences. 

A survery by Crowdtwist shows that 50.5 percent of millennials are loyal to a specific brand, which means it is still possible to solidify a faithful connection to millennial customers but it needs to be fun. The Colloquy study explains that 34 percent of millennials said that fun was the word which most depicts their participation in a customer reward program.

Colloquy?s survey also stated that 49 percent millennial customers will cease using a rewards program after receiving relevant content, which means its imperative for marketers to carefully consider what content to incorporate with their services. 

Rewarding examples
Sephora?s VIB program is a key example of a fun mobile marketing in which users become a part of for more than just the rewards. The retailer has gamified the experience allowing participants to move up through various tiers by how much they purchase, as well as serving surprise rewards and member-only events and sales. 

Apparel retailer Express updated its loyalty app into a shopping companion, which incorporated social media, payments and geotargeting into a one-stop platform. The retailer merged its original app with its separate loyalty app, Express Next, for easier enrollment as well as access to points, obtainment of rewards while shopping in store and mobile payment for its credit card holders. 

Domino?s also joined the mobile loyalty program game this year with its Piece of the Pie Rewards, which enables consumers to order pizzas through the app and with its emoji program, and win points redeemable for free menu item. Its emoji ordering service allows customers to order their usual meal by simply messaging the pizza emoticon, also available through Twitter. 

Starbucks intertwined its partnership with The New York Times with its rewards app to serve articles to users as well as loyalty points when purchasing Times print and digital subscriptions. The partnership plays on the common fusion of newspapers with coffee during consumers? morning routines.  

Unilever?s Axe leveraged an in-store partnership with Walmart designed to attract the brand's young male audience with relevant music downloads on mobile as a reward for purchasing products (see more). 

"Consumers use their devices differently," Mr. Berry said. "Retailers should consider subprograms that exclusively target and fit the needs of millennial users and their devices. 

"If a program can easily be used on an iPad, but not a mobile device, retailers may risk frustrating or alienating otherwise happy participants," he said. "Gamification is an important aspect of any mobile loyalty program. 

"dding some zing in the form of competition, either with the user's previous performance or with other users, can give a mobile program the edge that sets it apart. Leveraging FOMO (fear of missing out) and social connections are also powerful ways to engage customers."

Final take
Brielle Jaekel is editorial assistant at Mobile Marketer