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How to Work Experiential Rewards Into Your Loyalty Program

Written by 
Brad Davis
July 11, 2021

As any seasoned loyalty marketer already knows, experiential rewards have become an essential component of the customer experience. From cafes and hair salons to global sporting brands, electronics manufacturers and high-street fashion retailers; customers crave more than simple discounts and other transaction-based rewards these days.

In order to develop an emotional connection between brand and customer – one which transcends the products and services that you offer – experiential rewards are the most effective tool at your disposal.In this article, we’ll explore how to work experiential rewards into your loyalty program. But first, let’s define what experiential rewards actually are!

What are experiential rewards?

work experiential rewards into loyalty programs
An example of experiential rewards

In an era when social currency has never been more prevalent, nor more valuable, experiential rewards give consumers a positive life experience that they will forever associate with your brand.

It could be free movie tickets, celebrity meet-and-greets, front row seats to sporting events, an evening of fine dining, exclusive access to product launches or pre-season sales, cooking workshops, dance classes… on the larger end of the scale, it could even be a free all-inclusive overseas holiday!

scratch win experiential reward trip to tokyo loyalty program
An experiential reward for a Scratch & Win game

Whatever it is, this experiential reward must appeal to your target audience (i.e. your highest-spending customers) and ideally, it should give them something to post about on social media – because who doesn’t love free advertising!

No matter how personalized your “recommended products” and “tailored offers” are, experiential rewards provide a level of personalization for the customer that simply can’t be achieved in any other way.

At least, not with the same impact, anyway. After all, who remembers the 50% discount they received for any item of clothing in-store five years ago, or a spontaneous complimentary side with your main meal last month?

But on the other hand, that time that you and your friend got to go rock climbing all afternoon for free, because you won an exclusive prize draw for loyalty program members that you didn’t even know you were in?

Now, THAT leaves a lasting impression on people.

On the topic of loyalty programs, experiential rewards are the perfect way to increase customer retention, engagement and loyalty in one fell swoop.

Particularly for businesses in fashion, cosmetics, travel, sporting goods and entertainment; experiential rewards provide an air of luxury and exclusivity that your V.I.P. customers simply can’t ignore.

Here are some noteworthy statistics about experiential rewards in relation to loyalty programs:

1. The amount of loyalty programs that offer experiential rewards grew from 61% to 78% in just one year, according to renowned research firm Gartner.

2. Salesforce’s State of the Connected Consumer study revealed that over 80% of consumers place equal importance on a company’s overall experience as they do on its products and services.

While this last point doesn’t necessarily relate to experiential rewards, it does highlight the growing dominance of experiences over physical products and transactional rewards.

So, now for the big question…

How to work experiential rewards into your loyalty program

drawing of a lightbulb on a post-it note pinned to a corkboard
Ideas on how to work experiential rewards into your loyalty programs

When looking for ways to enhance your loyalty program through experiential rewards, creativity is key. Time-tested techniques like gamification, surprise and delight or social media integration are excellent approaches to help you get the ball rolling.

For example, a quick Google search will reveal a whole host of ways that you can gamify your social media posts to create a bit of online hype around your brand, and this can easily be transferred – or even weaved through the very fabric of – your loyalty program (as Starbucks loves to do with its spontaneous menu challenges).

You might also consider partnering up with other businesses that share a customer base, to provide your members with a more wholesome experience.

For example, a smoothie bar and neighbouring yoga studio might work together to reward yoga class attendees with free smoothies. This way, the smoothie bar adds experiential rewards to its offering, by rewarding a free yoga class with every 6th smoothie purchased.

The surprise and delight method might involve holding weekly prize draws for loyalty program members, where the prize is free outdoor cinema tickets or a weekend kayaking course – the options are endless!

Here are some examples of how a few of the world’s loyalty marketing heavyweights have incorporated experiential rewards into their loyalty program offering.

Nordstrom’s Nordy Club

nordstrom nordy club knows how to work experiential rewards into its loyalty program
Nordstrom’s Nordy Club's experiential reward - Image Source: Nordstrom

The Nordy Club loyalty program offers the following perks:

  • Exclusive access to industry events and fashion workshops
  • Curb-side pickup opportunities
  • Complimentary basic alterations on Nordstrom clothing
  • Early access to the Nordstrom Rack “Clear the Rack” sales
  • Countless other rotating VIP perks and benefits that come and go periodically

It’s worth noting that none of these experiential rewards actually cost Nordstrom money, while still managing to enhance the customer’s brand experience ten-fold.


nike+ works experiential rewards into its loyalty program
Nike's personalized experiential rewards - Image Source: Nike+

Nike is another brand that concerns itself less with financial incentives and instead focuses on heavily targeted experiential rewards that exceed customers’ expectations.

In addition to free shipping on all purchases and the flexibility to try products for a full month with a generous “no questions asked” return policy, Nike+ members gain access to:

  • Exclusive branded events where all Nike+ members can meet and train together
  • Early access to brand new training gear before it becomes available to the general public
  • Expert advice and recommendations from knowledgeable Nike fitness professionals

Neiman Marcus’ InCircle

InCircle experiential rewards worked into loyalty program
InCircle's benefits - Image Source: InCircle

US department store Neiman Marcus goes above and beyond with the staggering perks and luxuries it offers its InCircle Concierge members, such as:

  • In-store dining
  • Alterations
  • Valet parking
  • Fur services
  • Local courier delivery
  • Jewellery engraving
  • Shoe and handbag maintenance
  • Monogramming
  • Eye-glass frame and lens service
  • Salon services

There’s no limit to how you can work experiential rewards into your loyalty program

While the point of this article is to get the creative juices flowing on how you can incorporate experiential rewards into your specific loyalty program, the sky is the limit. What will work best for you and your customers ultimately depends on what kind of business you have, your target demographic, and good old fashioned trial and error.

At Stamp Me, we recommend starting small with little tokens of gratitude like Birthday Rewards, upfront incentives and spontaneous Scratch & Win-style instant draws. We offer all of these features and functions (as well as numerous others) in our convenient mobile loyalty app.

To learn more about how we can help you incorporate experiential rewards into your loyalty program, feel free to get in touch with our friendly team of professionals today.

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