This kind of business-customer relationship can’t be achieved through generic advertising and flash sales. It’s achieved through offering a unique customer experience, and humanising your brand through CSR initiatives.
We’re not talking about simply charging customers a few extra cents for a plastic shopping bag when they forget to bring your reusable one. Not even offering a discount for bringing reusable mugs into the cafe instead of using a takeaway cup… we’re referring to finding a worthy cause that aligns with both your brand’s and customers’ values, and finding a creative way to integrate it into your loyalty rewards program.
As millennials take over an increasing share of spending power in the global market (an estimated $1.4 trillion by 2020), the emphasis on corporate social responsibility is rapidly rising.
Even when strapped for cash, millennials have a tendency to look for new and innovative ways to donate or contribute to a good cause. That being said, loyalty programs are the perfect platform for CSR.
This would suggest that brands also need to “walk the walk” rather than simply choose a cause to get behind.
Brands that take the effort to educate customers on a cause and illustrate how their contributions will help to resolve the issue, have a higher chance of winning their customers’ support and increasing brand loyalty as a result.
What’s this got to do with corporate social responsibility?
Well, what people are saying about you online is one (pretty major) aspect of your brand’s public image that can only be controlled through genuine customer satisfaction.
All the clever marketing campaigns and expensive advertising in the world won’t prevent consumers from trashing your business online if they aren’t satisfied with the company’s product, customer service, or corporate morals and societal values.
Given how partial millennials are to both CSR and loyalty rewards, it makes sense for brands to find creative ways to combine the two and offer an enticing loyalty rewards program that gives back to society and helps make a difference.
There’s no shortage of ways to do this. Below we’ve offered a few tips on how brands can use their loyalty programs to promote good corporate citizenship and enhance their public image:
Tip 1: Make supporting your cause as simple and convenient as your loyalty program (hopefully) is!
With 94% of millennials using coupons and preferring to store them digitally via mobile apps, it would seem the same demographic of consumers that are the most conscious about shopping with socially responsible brands are also engaging digital loyalty apps (like Starbucks Rewards or Domino’s, for example).
On top of being more socially responsible, consumers of today are increasingly convenience-oriented:
“Pay in advance through your mobile app to skip the queue”, “Order from your smartphone to enjoy table service”, “Track your order from your device so that you know exactly when it’s ready”…
The easier you make it for customers to feel good about their contributions to a good cause, the more success you’ll have in winning their loyalty.
Think about those UNICEF donation bins you see at major airports around the world, or the sealable envelopes in airplane pockets – this is a remarkably simple and convenient way for consumers to dispose of their leftover change from foreign currencies.
Any less than a few bucks and people are unlikely to bother exchanging it back to their local currency. It all ends up in the bottom of a dusty drawer at home.
In fact, Global Coin Solutions estimates that there is up to USD $10 billion worth of discarded foreign currency in US households!
The same goes for McDonald’s clever “rounding up” initiative, where customers who use McDonald’s self-service tablets are asked whether they’d like to round up the price of their order from $9.65 to $10 (for example), and the extra $0.35 goes to the Ronald McDonald House Charities.
With 75 burgers sold every second in the burger chain’s almost 38,000 locations worldwide, a few cents here and there from 69 million daily customers is sure to make a colossal difference.
Businesses that incorporate fundraising and charitable contributions into the very fabric of their transactions (i.e. “a percentage of your purchase is being contributed to this cause”) enjoy an improved public image for CSR without requiring any form of commitment from customers.
Tip 2: Integrate automated prompts for rewards donation into your digital loyalty program
Allowing loyalty program members to donate their rewards to charity is a great way to incorporate CSR into your rewards program. It allows customers to make a monetary contribution to a cause without actually opening their wallets.
For example, instead of enjoying 25% off their next purchase, a customer might opt for paying the same amount as usual and have the 25% donated to a charity of their choosing.
About 8 years ago, Levi’s launched the Water<Less collection and accompanying campaign, which has saved billions (literally, billions!) of litres of water in the production of jeans since 2011.
The Water<Less process saves up to 96% of the water typically used in denim finishing alone.
This campaign implores customers to wash their jeans a little less often, and offers sustainable alternatives like showering in your jeans to save water.
The fashion giant even offers various other water-saving tips that have nothing to do with the production of denim jeans. For example like collecting the initial cold water before the shower heats up and using it to water your plants.
Not only has Levi’s drastically reduced the amount of water used in the production of denim and challenged its customers to consume less water, but Levi’s is actually widely responsible for spreading awareness of the issue in the first place.