Integrating CRM and Analytics Key to Next-Gen Customer Loyalty Programs

Rather than giving away free stuff, The North Face and Red Robin create customized "experience" rewards for faithful customers

When The North Face launched its loyalty program online last year and in retail stores last April, the company wanted to do more than reward customers for what they buy. It wanted to reward them for what they do.

Sure, members of VIPeak, which is based on the Tibco Loyalty Lab platform, can accrue points for purchasing a fleece jacket or some sneakers. But they can also rack up points by running in the San Francisco Endurance Challenge or talking up the brand on social media.

They can then redeem points for offers such as meet-and-greets with sponsored athletes or adventure travel. "[People] don't just want to buy stuff. They want to buy experiences," says Aaron Carpenter, vice president of global marketing at The North Face. "It's a huge opportunity for deep engagement."

Red Robin Gourmet Burgers takes another approach to a richer loyalty program: The restaurant chain tailors its offers not only to certain segments of its customer base, but also to individual customers. "We're saying we think you're special and we want to give you an experience that's differentiated," says CIO Chris Laping.

Companies are leapfrogging traditional loyalty programs based on purchase frequency to create experiential programs that make an emotional connection with customers. "These emotional connections become the differentiator," says Darren Tristano, executive vice president at food industry consultancy Technomic.

To get there, old and new IT must be integrated. The Red Robin Royalty program connects to a point-of-sale system and pulls in data from social media and an online customer satisfaction survey.

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