Why Intangible Rewards Can Sometimes Be More Valuable Than Dollars

By Mike Gorun at Performance Loyalty Group  //  2012, October  //  No Comments // Tags: , , , , ,

Why Intangible Rewards Can Sometimes Be More Valuable Than DollarsWhat do you think would excite your customer more? A 15% discount on a tire rotation or being notified that they have been elevated to VIP status in your loyalty rewards program? You may be surprised that just as many customers respond positively to intangible rewards, such as an elevation in status, or feeling like they contributed to a good cause, as they do to monetary rewards. Think of that movie “Up In the Air” where George Clooney’s character was laser-focused on making the “10 million mile” club. And what did he get for it? A cool new card, a glass of champagne and a 1-800 number with an operator that greeted him by name. Some younger people are really into their social media status: think of people who visit restaurants so they can earn another badge on Foursquare, or shell out their own dollars to buy seeds to elevate their Farmville status.

 Yet many marketers still focus on providing rewards only in the form of tangible points and dollars. This is key to every program, of course, but it wouldn’t hurt to include intangible rewards too. One example of this is the outdoor retailer, REI. The company uses social responsibility as a type of reward for its loyalty members, who become co-op program members. At the end of every year, REI pays them a dividend and outlines how program participants have contributed to the greater good just by being a member.

 What do your customers care about? If you are involved in community activities that you’re proud of, maybe there’s a way to incorporate customer involvement through your loyalty program. In addition to discounts, you could do a promotion such as “for every dollar loyalty members spend, we’ll donate X amount to (your favorite cause).” Combining intangible rewards with tangible rewards is a great way to boost awareness of your loyalty program. This may encourage those customers that don’t respond to discounts or dollars in the same way they do to increased status or a good cause.

What other types of intangible rewards do you think customers respond to?

What suggestions do you have for incorporating intangible rewards into your loyalty program?

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