From loyalty programmes, points and incentives to personalised communications, these are marketers’ common attempts at retaining customers’ share of wallet. Beyond value driven incentives, there is a new reality – edutainment – that is proving to shake up and influence customer loyalty in ways we have not considered before.

Singaporeans are a disloyal bunch

Living through a pandemic, customer loyalty has seen a few shifts. While people prefer to stick to tried-and-tested brands for a sense of familiarity and comfort, other factors like availability, convenience and safety are now becoming key drivers for loyalty. Coupled with the rise in buying local, we are also more likely to buy from new brands to support our local communities. Be it an active or passive choice, we are now more open to trying new brands.

However, trying new brands often means leaving brands behind in favour of the next thing. With abundant choices and low switching costs, marketers are now facing a loyalty crisis: 77% of Singaporeans are unsure if they would make the same purchase if they had to do it over again; of all the purchases made, they were 28 times less likely to make the same purchase again when compared to global data.

Value, convenience and a superior experience drives customer loyalty

According to a local report, the key reasons for switching brands are value and convenience. In the face of a pandemic, brands that provide greater value for money would attract customers who are tentative about spending amidst the looming economic uncertainty; brands that provide a safe and seamless experience would attract customers who are looking for peace of mind while they shop.

While loyalty is underpinned by value and convenience, these have become table stakes: marketers must deliver on these factors, but they cannot differentiate with them alone. Our new research suggests that interactive, engaging experiences are an underlooked, but powerful, lever for retention and a much welcomed respite with the deluge of pandemic news.

The new role for brands: Provide useful fun

With a steady increase of disloyalty, we found a surprising truth in the post-purchase  experience: we are now looking for useful fun. In the age of Masterclass and Clubhouse, the real value in these platforms isn’t (just) about the celebrity hype, but functional and emotional access to expert knowledge and influential networks, all delivered through a shared and enjoyable experience.

Similarly, the role of education is increasingly prominent in a brand’s post-purchase experience, where people are expecting functional gains delivered through an emotionally pleasing experience. In Singapore, we are eager for interactive, engaging experiences in the ways that we consume content and shop.

  • 88% of people in Singapore want interactive experiences to learn about products and
    the category.
  • 80% want to learn about the products and the category through game-based activities.
  • 77% want live (real-time) educational services that include coaching, content, and community.

Fundamentally, people want to get the most out of their products instead of being sold more. Yet, brands are typically focusing on the value equation around points and incentives and scoring another transaction with customers through up/cross-selling, failing to look at the entire customer journey and provide real value in the end-to-end experience.

The power of edutainment on loyalty

Perhaps it is the effects of COVID-19: people are spending more time indoors and/or getting bored; perhaps it is the increasingly fuss-free delivery processes that make it easy to buy, try and return from anywhere across the world. Today, consumers are more confident and open to buying things online. In Singapore, 74% of consumers are shopping online more as a result of the pandemic, with one in three doing so for the first time. 

As e-commerce is becoming normalised, e-retailers predict that immersive social commerce and interactive experiences will be the next big thing in online shopping. Regionally, Shopee saw an increase in livestreams of up to 70 times; during its 12.12 (12 Dec) shopping festival, the platform clocked 2.7bn plays on in-app games and 450 million views on their livestreaming feature (Shopee Live) over three weeks.

The role of community in creating more socially driven experiences to drive brand stickiness is also increasing – in Singapore, close to three in four consumers are interested in live or digital branding communities and events. Locally, we see brands tapping into edutainment in a multitude of formats. At the core of it, it is about helping people to learn more while having fun, which in turn drives brand/product messages in a salient way amidst the crowded marketplace.

Brand campaigns
  • Prudential launched a regional brand campaign featuring K-pop supergroup, SuperM, to get people to dance for wellness. Tapping into K-pop, a genre of music that is unifying, fun and social, the brand hopes to inspire people to get healthy, together.
  • Dettol launched a regional #HandWashChallenge on TikTok to promote proper handwashing techniques at the peak of the pandemic. By encouraging people to combine a dance choreography with their hand wash routine, the challenge made a mundane activity into a fun and meaningful one.
  • OCBC commissioned The Woke Salaryman (financial literacy comic publisher) to shed light on the findings from its Financial Wellness Index survey in a bite-sized and relatable manner, featuring a 30-year old divorcee’s financial journey illustrated through comic strips.
New product launches
  • The Closet Lover (local fashion brand) hosts regular livestreams on Instagram Live to showcase their new collections with live try-ons, sharing personal styling tips while answering any questions that viewers may have.
  • Love, Bonito (local fashion brand) launched the second &DREA collection in collaboration with influencer Andrea Chong by hosting an exclusive preview/Q&A session on TikTok.
Sales promotions
  • Shopee engaged Ah Niu, a popular regional singer, to remind people to shop on Shopee during the Chinese New Year festive period with a memorable jingle adapted from his famous song, coupled with discounts and flash deals.
  • Lazada launched an online countdown concert featuring headliners Katy Perry and NCT Dream, to usher in its ninth birthday with an extravaganza that included flash sales, live concerts, games and livestreaming sessions.

The desire for consumers to enjoy and learn more about their purchases through interactive experiences calls for a relook at our approach towards post-purchase content marketing – to ensure we are providing engaging post-purchase experiences that go beyond selling.

Rethinking the future of loyalty

Compared to the rest of the region, Singapore has a relatively more youthful and digital-savvy population who are increasingly exposed to superior brand experiences, especially via e-commerce. While the tendency for loyalty marketing has been to focus on value-driven incentives to attract returning customers, we see the role of education and community-driven experiences becoming increasingly important in the post-purchase experience – with edutainment as a powerful tool to attract, engage and retain customers.

We know that it is cheaper to retain existing customers than to attract new ones. If brands and businesses want to achieve long-term success, they need to stop thinking about customers in terms of acquisition and retention, but rather as people that we need to know who they are, what they care about, and how we can help them enjoy and elevate their experience. This will inevitably drive genuine, long-term relationships and spur loyalty.