Best Loyalty Programs: A List for Inspiration

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When you think of creating loyal customers and loyalty marketing, the first thing that comes to mind is a loyalty program. The easiest and smartest thing to do is look at the best loyalty programs and follow their lead.

They’ve experimented and they have reached record highs, so why not understand their tactic and see what works for you?

Of course, some loyalty programs can become expensive on the long-term. However, what we are looking at here are ideas. Tips and tricks and food for thought.

Best Industries for a Loyalty Program

The world is filled with industries and sub-industries with more rising each day. Generally, some industries may perform better than others.

Business-to-consumer (B2C) industries fare better when the business has a loyalty program.

Whether your business is in apparel, cosmetics, books, or a supermarket, loyalty programs are an excellent fit for you and your customers.

Read: These 12 Industries Get the Best Results with Loyalty Programs

Check out the list of worldwide loyalty programs for inspiration.

The World’s Best Loyalty Programs

Like anything in business, there’s no one shoe fits all or in this case one loyalty program to fit everyone.

That said, and while we have some basic tips and ideas before creating a loyalty program, the following loyalty programs offer insights and ideas that you can use at later stages for your business.

Let’s say you have a small business now that you’d like to see grow. A loyalty program helps you with that.

The examples below can give you ideas when your customers increase to 1,000, 10,000 and so on.

Let’s start with one of the world’s most celebrated loyalty programs or what many look at as the ‘best of the best in loyalty programs.’

  • Sephora

One of the most talked-about loyalty programs worldwide is done by makeup retailer Sephora.

Their loyalty program, expertly called Sephora’s Beauty Insider, is not just about creating loyal customers, it’s about creating a loyal community.

Sephora’s loyalty program offers several tiers and each tier has a number of perks. Even their free tier offers enticing options to customers, from seasonal savings events to free shipping options.

Their rewards program also includes birthday gift samples, to several experiences such as Meet and Greet events, point multiplier events and more.

As you can see, Sephora doesn’t just have an online loyalty program. Its program is about getting people together and using it to attract customers to its stores and events.

The downsides?

  • Customers can’t redeem points for discounts, but can do so for selected products
  • The loyalty program sees changes every year
  • Points can only be used with specific products
  • Michael Kors

The Michael Kors brand has been around since the early 1980’s, but its loyalty program KORSVIP came a little later.

Many know the brand for its signature women’s handbags and purses, but Michael Kors also makes luxury apparel.

The brand offers customers points for every dollar spent and almost every action taken on their website.

Benefits? Customers earn points for:

  • Downloading the mobile app
  • Adding items to their wish list
  • Submitting reviews
  • Every dollar they spend (10 points)

“Your benefits and rewards as a KORSVIP member depend on your KORSVIP member status. Your benefits will grow as you achieve a higher status. Just for enrolling, all KORSVIP members receive free standard shipping and returns, private styling and appointments,” Michael Kors explain on their website.

The downsides of this loyalty program?

Michael Kors doesn’t offer cashback rewards and doesn’t allow customers to redeem points for products (which isn’t standard practice in loyalty programs).

The loyalty program is only applicable to people in the United States, whereas the brand is present many countries and has over 1,200 stores worldwide.

  • Ulta Beauty: Ultamate Rewards

Another makeup brand, whose loyalty program is often compared to Sephora’s, with some saying Ulta has a stronger edge.

Like Sephora, Ulta offers three tiers in its loyalty program, detailing the cash-to-points value.

It also offers a free birthday gift (to all tiers), double points during the month of your birthday, $10 coupon for your birthday, free shipping for orders above $25 (for the Diamond tier only).

Customers can also redeem points like cash, can redeem points on any purchase, and they can enjoy benefits across the mobile app and in-store.

  • Swarovski

Austrian jeweler Swarovski offers several loyalty programs including: the Swarovski Club (includes free and paid tiers) and the Swarovski Crystal Society (includes an annual fee).

Their programs don’t rely on a points-system but instead rewards customers with discounts and vouchers based on spending goals when they sign up.

The downsides?

  • Swarovski isn’t clear about its terms and conditions in terms of the value of its prizes.
  • Their loyalty gift voucher doesn’t offer clear information about what it gives to customers, especially since it comes after customers spend $700.
  • Starbucks

When it comes to the world’s best loyalty programs, Starbucks’s is often a top contender in the United States.

The coffee chain is also well-known for constantly working on attracting customers and keeping them loyal to its brand.

In July, Starbucks unveiled more loyalty program options, allowing members to “have more ways to pay for their drinks as the coffee chain pushes to recruit more enthusiastic customers,” reports CNBC.

As part of its rewards program, Starbucks offers members a free beverage on their birthday, free in-store refills for coffee and tea.

In addition, their loyalty program offers perks like skipping the queue and ordering before getting to the store.

Starbucks’ loyalty program enjoys 19.4 million active members in the US as of 29 March, it said in a statement.

Moreover, the coffee chain, which is often seen as a restaurant tech leader, reported higher revenue from its loyalty program members during the pandemic, according to CNBC. 

“In the United States, 48% of sales in the last week of May came from Starbucks Rewards members, up from 44% in the quarter ended March 29,” CNBC said, citing a regulatory filing.

Read: 10 Strategies to Grow Customer Engagement and Loyalty in E-Commerce

  • Reebok

Athletic wear brand Reebok has a different kind of loyalty program that is often deemed as less costly than a gifts-based program.

Here’s what they do: Reebok’s program offers VIP experiences, partner rewards, as well as training and wellness programs.

Reebok has two loyalty programs, Reebok UNLOCKED and ReebokONE.

The first is for fans who wish to purchase products, where “accumulated points determine your level, which unlocks an exclusive set of rewards,” whereas “ReebokONE” is for fitness professionals.

Both loyalty programs are available in stores across the United States. The programs use a points-system, allowing members to earn points for “any” interactions and transactions they do with the brand.

The more a member accumulates points, the higher the value of the reward they get.

  • IKEA

The Swedish retailer for ready-to-assemble furniture, kitchen appliances and home accessories has a loyalty program that offers shoppers a hot beverage every time they visit the store.

“As a member you’ll receive discounts and rewards; we even treat you to a free hot drink every time you visit! You can also expect a few surprises along the way. Because we know it’s nice to feel appreciated,” IKEA says via their website.

  • Barnes & Noble

Despite the constant debate about e-books versus paperbacks, many readers are familiar with Barnes and Noble’s loyalty program.

Although it costs $25 per year to join, the loyalty program offers perks such as discounts and special offers.

“For only $25 a year, you’ll score 40% off pricing on hardcover bestsellers, 10% off on almost all other purchase, and free express shipping on all online purchases,” Beauty Kitchen founder Heather Marianna tells Business Insider.

Barnes & Noble also offers e-book options. 

  • Lancôme

French makeup brand Lancôme isn’t out of the customer loyalty program game with its tiered program for its loyal fans.

Their points-based program allows customers to earn points for a multitude of actions such as connecting via social media, sharing information with the brand, and so on.

It’s also easy to earn points, for every dollar spent, customers get 10 points.

Depending on their tier, customers can get early access to certain Lancôme products, invitation to Lancôme events and parties, among other things.

  • Baskin-Robbins

Remember ice-cream brand Baskin-Robbins?

Well they may not be a common name nowadays with more brands popping up in the United States and across the globe, but the ice cream chain gives customers a free ice cream scoop once they sign up for their loyalty program. Because who can say no to ice cream?

In addition, they are mobile-friendly, enabling customers to pay with their phone, check out the newest flavors, and order customizable ice cream cakes. Yum!

  • Target

This list of the best loyalty programs can’t be complete without a supermarket brand, particularly Target’s.

With Target’s RedCard, customers save 5% on everything – yes you read that right, everything. Nothing like a constant discount to keep people coming back, right?

Target took a step further by partnering with Starbucks to give its RedCard members a 5% discount on any in-store Starbucks location. Sip while you shop.

In addition to the discounts, the RedCard provides exclusive offers, extra 30 days to return products, and free two-day shipping.

  • Amazon Rewards Visa Signature Card

Amazon isn’t out of the loyalty program sphere. In fact, their Visa Signature Card is considered one of the top programs in the world.

There are certain requirements for this type of program. The most important is getting Amazon to approve you for a credit card to use on their loyalty program.

“Shoppers will get a […]gift card upon signing up and the card gives shoppers 3% back on every dollar spent on Amazon, 2% back on drugstore, gas station, and restaurant purchases, and 1% on all other items,” Sara Skirboll, shopping & trends expert at coupon website RetailMeNot, tells Business Insider.

“Keep adding up the points and use them towards future Amazon purchases, gift cards, or other perks,” she adds.

According to their website, Amazon also offers a $50 gift card once the credit card is approved.

Final Words

This is list isn’t comprehensive by any means nor are brands arranged in any particular order.

However, we sought to highlight what many across the globe think are the best loyalty programs to join.

You can examine the successful ones for inspiration and experiment with your program and brand.

Last but not least, when you consider a loyalty program, you need to think of your customers and your industry.

Is your industry among those that get the best results with loyalty programs?

Remember: Loyalty programs are about making people fall in love with your brand so that instead of thinking where they should shop for a particular product or service, your store would be their go-to destination.

If you’re ready to give your customers a taste of a loyalty program, check out Gameball’s free plan on Shopify or install Gameball directly in your online store via our website.

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