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Local insights = global success: Is your loyalty programme glocalised?

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24th Nov 2015
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With a global growth rate of around 20%, online retail is a booming sector. International brands are now able to sell to the majority of consumers on the planet, with their products available at the touch of a button. At the same time, smaller local and/or independent brands are capitalising on the opportunities created by the very same global market, using third-party marketplaces like Amazon and eBay to trade internationally without having to invest in a global logistics network.

This ecommerce explosion has led many to speculate that loyalty to individual brands will take a substantial hit as consumers are faced with an unprecedented breadth of options.

Global, but local: the perfect blend

The rise of cross-border ecommerce is both a blessing and a curse for local brands. On the one hand, it has become easier to buy products and services from overseas brands in the UK, but on the other, UK brands have been presented with much greater opportunities to expand their customer base into other countries. This blurring of international boundaries has seen many brands invest substantial time, money, and effort to blend global reach with local insight and specialisms, creating a consumer experience that is at once universal and market-specific.

This trend towards ‘glocalisation’ has so far focused on marketing and logistics: websites are translated into local languages and prices are quoted in the local currency, while payment platforms and fulfilment options are tweaked from country to country to take account of local habits and trends. But why should loyalty programmes not also show an appreciation of local needs, customs, and expectations? Brands must blend globally available flagship products and services with a carefully curated range of locally relevant items.

McDonald’s, for instance, has been a pioneer of this ‘glocal’ approach to inventory, lining up iconic global products like the Big Mac alongside local speciality items on its menus.

Setting the stage for ‘glocal’ loyalty

‘Glocalising’ should be just as much of a priority for loyalty programme managers as it is for any other business leader. As a brand’s reach extends internationally, its membership and demographic will naturally diversify and expand, calling for greater emphasis on localised rewards and vendor relationships. This is especially true for airlines, hotel groups, and other companies in the travel and hospitality sectors.

Such brands must explore how to engage with loyalty programme members in locally relevant ways, with content tailored to individual markets according to local preferences and regularly updated in line with customer behavioural data gleaned from members’ interactions with their online programmes. That might mean pursuing market-specific partnerships with local brands, or tapping into local cultural events or themes. Insight should be for a loyalty programme manager what the North Star is to a ship’s navigator: a fixed point that provides consistent guidance as to the right course to take.

But local demands don’t always need to be matched with local products. Remember too that the ‘glocalisation’ of reward store inventory could mean stocking up on non-local-origin products that are en vogue in a given country at a given time – consider, for example, the strong appetite in China at present for brands with a well-defined British heritage.

Insights are invaluable

But achieving a truly ‘glocalised’ rewards programme can be easier said than done. To do it efficiently and effectively requires loyalty programme managers to consolidate data from a broad range of sources – from customer demography to transactional data to information about how members interact with specific offers or programme elements. This kind of analysis isn’t easy, but the results are well worth the effort: cross-border loyalty programmes with a local touch really do have the potential to deliver significant return on investment by engaging consumers on a more personal level and unlocking additional spending.

When a tourist from the USA is planning their vacation to the UK, could they be targeted with ‘Buy British’ rewards instead of irrelevant products that wouldn’t be so meaningful? Could your rewards inventory be expanded beyond a narrow selection from a single country or region? Pushing the boundaries of what your customers expect could have hugely beneficial results for your programme and for their levels of engagement over the long-term.

To be sure your loyalty programme is hitting all the right notes and not being left behind, a healthy amount of insight goes a long way – especially in the new global-local world we live in. 

Barry Lalanne is ecommerce category manager at Collinson Latitude.

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