Keeping up with trends should be a major component of any brand or organization’s rewards program strategy. Tune in to the merchants you’re working with, the consumer marketplace and especially trends among your customers’ demographics.
Consumers spend points similarly to how they spend their money. Tuning into consumer trends not only ensures that your reward offerings are timely and relevant, but will also help set you apart from the competition.
Keep in mind that while each tip is useful on its own, employing these tactics in combination with each other allows for a more holistic approach to keeping up with consumer trends.
We asked our experts: What do you do to keep up with consumer trends?
- Track consumer behavior. This is probably the most important tip for rewards program providers. Analyze your customers’ spend data as well as other performance metrics such as campaign response rates to know what is important to your customers and what should be integral to your program. Looking at your program’s redemption data to see what’s performing well and what’s not will clue you in to which rewards your members like most. If there’s one reward that no one has ever cashed in, it’s likely time to remove it, especially if it doesn’t cost many points to redeem. (What that means is that your members have enough points to cash in for that reward, they just don’t want it.) Of course, don’t go overboard here. Refreshing your offerings quarterly is enough to change things up without getting rid of items that members may be saving up for.
- Join industry associations and groups. Consider joining groups like the Incentive Marketing Association, Incentive Gift Card Council, or the Incentive Travel Council. These associations not only host conferences and events with expert speakers and panels, they also provide members with useful market research and data on consumer behavior and trends. Not ready to join? Start by subscribing to industry newsletters, magazines and other publications to learn more.
- Be aware of seasonality. Gift card and travel redemption activity are especially telling in mimicking consumer spending habits. For example, most people spend more during the holiday season, buying gifts and cashing in gift cards for friends and family. January through March, there tends to be a spike in travel reward redemptions, as people are planning for spring and summer getaways. Keep seasonality in mind when planning for upcoming campaigns or new rewards offerings.
- Keep up with the economy. This was especially pertinent when the economy was in a downturn. Rewards rates remained stable a few years ago when the economy was down because we advised our clients to include commodities like gas and grocery gift cards in their rewards offerings. Customers were appreciative and redemption rates maintained.
Your rewards suite should reflect your brand or organization, but also serve the needs and wants of your customers and rewards members.