Christmas is a great time for customer acquisition. However, don’t forget about the importance of customer retention, especially during this time of the year. Loyal customers who are also part of a loyalty program expect a special connection with brands and appropriate offers.
Loyalty is 6 to 7 times cheaper than acquisition, and it has the advantage of generating higher returns (a 10% increase in loyalty rates can increase a company’s value by 30%) in the long term. However, during this special period of the holiday season, customers expect something different from what they need throughout the year. It’s up to brands and retailers to properly adapt their programs to convey the magic of Christmas.
What do customers expect at Christmas?
So, what are the needs and desires of brand customers during the holiday season? Like all other consumers, the last part of the year is synonymous with hunting for gifts to delight their loved ones. Therefore, they may come to the store with a different mindset when shopping. The buying journey will be significantly different as they are not satisfying their own needs but looking for a gift for someone else. They won’t have the same expectations or criteria for making choices.
Some studies indicate that 87% of them enter a longer research phase to find the perfect gift. They are also attracted to preferential prices, with 92% of them looking for discounts. They are particularly attentive to extras like guaranteed free delivery before the big day.
Key Aspects to Focus on for Loyalty During the Holiday Season
Personalized Customer Relationships
Today, personalization is the cornerstone of a loyalty program, and it’s even more crucial for Christmas, which, although a commercial holiday on one hand, is also an intimate occasion where consumers get closer to their friends and families. Brands and retailers have a significant interest in making their messages unique to each customer. By considering factors like their geographical location, past orders, preferences, hobbies, and more, brands should be capable of activating the right triggers at the right time with a tailored message. For example, it’s interesting to inform current customers about the product range specifically released for Christmas or a promotional campaign designed for the holiday season. Instead of using a one-size-fits-all message, brands can personalize and adapt product suggestions based on each customer’s history and preferences.
During Christmas, consumers receive a plethora of promotional messages from various brands. This increased solicitation significantly shortens attention spans and increases the chances of messages going unnoticed. Loyal customers are also bombarded with such messages, especially considering that they often possess loyalty cards from multiple brands (ranging from 3 to 10 or more).
To stand out and be noticed by your customers, it’s essential to differentiate your brand and communicate with clarity. So, how can you achieve this? Create an element of surprise by offering unique and relevant actions or by utilizing different communication channels. For instance, you can use geolocation-based push notifications. If a customer is near one of your stores and you have a special offer for them, you can send this through your app, provided the customer has downloaded it and accepted to receive such messages. Alternatively, you can create a special section in your app that customers need to check regularly. If you’ve given them a digital gift card that they’ve saved in their app wallet, you can also send them precise push notifications.
Offer Truly Appealing Benefits
A loyalty program typically involves rewards, which serve to acknowledge customer actions while strengthening the customer-brand relationship. This mechanism remains essential for fostering loyalty and encouraging customers to return to your store. However, it’s crucial to provide benefits that are genuinely distinctive, adaptable, aligned with your brand image, and, most importantly, tailored to the needs of program participants. Without this, customers won’t feel attached and may easily disengage from your program in favor of a competitor.
It’s essential to work on rewarding and surprising customers while adapting to the context. During Christmas, for example, a brand can offer different benefits compared to the rest of the year. This helps leave a lasting impression, increase engagement, and create long-term value.
Benefits can fall into two different categories:
- Transactional benefits, such as promotions, discounts, and more.
- Experiential benefits, including unique services or events (private sales, product testing, workshops, etc.).
Small Gestures to Enrich the Loyalty Program
Christmas is the perfect time to add small gestures to your loyalty program. One of the key elements of the holiday season is showing thoughtfulness. Christmas represents sharing, conviviality, and generosity. Brands can leverage these strong values to enhance their loyalty programs. Small gestures are an excellent way to create strong engagement among customers. For instance, brands can send holiday greeting cards, create a special campaign with a charitable organization, organize unique Christmas events, craft and distribute emotionally charged messages such as short films, provide free gift wrapping services, or offer free shipping.
An E-Gift Card as a Differentiating Loyalty Tool
The e-gift card is an excellent way to complement a loyalty strategy. It has the advantage of being more rewarding than a promotional coupon. While both formats allow spending only in-store or on a brand’s website, coupons are often perceived as opportunistic offers from retailers rather than genuine rewards for customer loyalty. In contrast, e-gift cards help strengthen the bond with customers, recognizing and rewarding their loyalty more effectively.
E-gift cards can be used in various ways. A brand may decide to offer free e-gift cards with a limited amount and duration to specific customers, inviting them to do their Christmas shopping. It’s a great way to reward them and offer a thoughtful gesture ahead of time.
Alternatively, they can offer e-gift cards defined for a certain basket amount or a specific product category.
Social Media as Customer Loyalty Channels
Social media is an interesting territory to explore for customer loyalty. Creating and engaging a community can significantly strengthen the relationship between the brand and its customers. It’s also a preferred way to stay in touch even after the purchase. Building a thriving ecosystem and rewarding participative customers and those who post reviews is an effective strategy.
For Christmas, social media can be an opportunity for brands to help customers prepare for the holidays. This can involve suggesting gift ideas, involving customers in sharing their ideas, and more. There are many ways to engage and enliven the community.
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