NEW YORK: Tough Mudder, which organises a series of extreme events around the world, has successfully shown how loyalty programs can be adapted by experience-based brands to boost customer engagement.

Nicholas Horbaczewski, Tough Mudder's svp/revenue and business development, discussed this subject while speaking at the latest ad:tech New York conference.

"The reasons people come to do a Tough Mudder are very different from the reasons they do a second Tough Mudder," he said. (For more, including how the brand stimulates and manages consumer buzz, read Warc's exclusive report: How Tough Mudder fuels word of mouth.)

"And you kind of have two different customers, and you need to market to those customers differently. You need to offer them a slightly different on-site experience, because the motivation to do actually changes quite a bit.

"So we have sculpted our event experience and our marketing to address those different needs."

As part of this process, the firm has introduced a "form of loyalty program" to reward participants who have finished its testing courses on several occasions.

"It's a different take on a loyalty program, where you get different colour headbands for completing more Tough Mudders," said Horbaczewski.

"With it, instead of getting perks like most loyalty programs, what you actually get is more challenge." So sections of the course are only available to people who have crossed the finish line multiple times.

In keeping with the brand's efforts to foster a communal and team-orientated ethos at its events, this loyalty initiative also asks Tough Mudder veterans to look out for newcomers as they tackle obstacles.

"We hammer it into people that if you're wearing these coloured headbands, you have an obligation to help new people through the course. And people come back for that experience," said Horbaczewski.

"And we're happy with the performance of our loyalty program. People seem to really like being given responsibility when they come back."

Data sourced from Warc