The loyalty landscape is full of undifferentiating me-too programs that have been relegated to serving as a discount delivery mechanism, dispensing run-of-the-mill satisfaction in the name of a program that keeps the status quo—instead of riding higher as a catalyst for brand loyalty.

One significant trend we are already designing into client solutions are the notion and practice of informal loyalty—coined by us as Informaloyalty™ or #informaloyalty. Informaloyalty harnesses the power of a large scale loyalty program by weaving specific loyalty mechanics into promotions and experiences that drive re-purchase without the damaging effects of a public discount. 

The opportunity for brands is to evolve their approach to achieve high levels of customer loyalty without an explicit loyalty program. Informal programs identify customers uniquely, track behaviors, employ highly sophisticated segmentation and scoring mechanisms, and intervene to encourage customers toward desired outcomes and behaviors. The value exchange in this new approach will not rely solely on a discount and monetary exchange, but rather on an exchange that fulfills customer needs, makes them feel recognized and valued, and engages them through relevant and personalized experiences. 

Informal approaches will help brands outperform by making the experience with the brand better, getting customers to a place where they’re willing to pay a premium, and making them more loyal to the brand.