Target's new loyalty program, Target Circle, lets members rack up personalized discounts, birthday rewards, and "votes" to help determine how the company allocates charitable giving. Members of Nordstrom's Nordy Club can reap perks like curbside pick-up and invitations to special beauty and style workshops. Nike's NikePlus program lets loyal customers chat with top athletes for training tips, while top earners in Marriott's Bonvoy loyalty program can earn "Bonvoy Moments" such as VIP concert tickets and epicurean journeys with top chefs.
These are just a few examples of how companies are taking loyalty programs to the next level by providing members with special perks that go beyond mere product discounts. Indeed, 78 percent of loyalty programs now offer experiential-based rewards, compared to 61 percent last year, according to "The Gartner L2 Intelligence Report: Loyalty 2019," based on 82 brands in both its 2018 and 2019 loyalty studies. Benefits that go beyond garden variety have become table stakes for loyalty programs, says Lili Meng, senior specialist in Gartner's marketing practice. "[Retail] brands that are really setting a gold standard are using the store as the focal point of the experience for their loyalty programs, in addition to using mobile apps as a way to connect various channels," she says.