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The 5 Best Customer Loyalty Programs

What makes a customer loyalty program the best? The answer depends on who you’re asking. And if you’re asking SessionM, the answer is based on our extensive experience powering the loyalty programs of some of the world’s most innovative brands. Keep reading to get our breakdown of five of the best customer loyalty programs!

1.Starbucks

My Starbucks Rewards program is arguably the most well known and highly lauded loyalty program among consumers and coveted among competitors. The global coffee chain has been at the forefront of customer experience innovation. Take their mobile order feature for example.

Many brands have hopped on the mobile order bandwagon, but few have mastered the process from device to store so seamlessly. One of the best things about the order feature is that customers still have the ability to customize their drink exactly as they would in store, all with a few clicks. The app not only makes customers’ lives a little easier, but also enables them to seamlessly earn and redeem loyalty points for food and beverages.

Loyalty lesson: convenience plus rewards are a winning combination.

2. Chicken Salad Chick

In the last three years, Alabama-based fast casual chain Chicken Salad Chick has more than tripled in size, boasting 14 consecutive periods of positive growth and a 238 percent increase in units opened. The loyalty program also continues to boom. Currently, Chicken Salad Chick has nearly 400,000 users who have downloaded their app. Of those 400,000 users, nearly 75% of those users who downloaded the app, made a purchase and became a frequent customer.

The chicken salad chain launched their “Craving Credits” loyalty program in 2015 and it caught fire nearly immediately. The program is built into a mobile app full of loyalty experiences, allowing Chicken Salad Chick marketers to understand customer behavior at an individual level and increase revenue by encouraging more frequent visits and larger order sizes.

Loyalty lesson: anybody got something cool to say? Loyalty programs with a clear value proposition can lead to impressive results.

3.Sephora

Sephora’s Beauty Insiders program is a favorite among beauty experts and novices alike. On the surface, Beauty Insiders seems like your typical tiered program with a customer’s tier determined by their yearly spend. The program offers unique benefits to members at each level and also a variety of benefits to all members as a whole.

What makes the program unique though, is Sephora’s Rewards Bazaar, which is an online portal to which new rewards are added bi-weekly. Beauty Insiders can redeem their points for one-of-a-kind experiences, personalized services, and special sample rewards. Sephora offers your basic samples with purchase or a free birthday gift, as well as once-in-a-lifetime experiences, such as a three-night getaway during the harvest in the vineyards at Les Sources de Caudalie with delicious food, drinks, and Caudalie spa treatments.

Loyalty lesson: variety is the spice of life, and your loyalty program.

4.REI

When nature calls, outdoor enthusiasts call REI. Customers can pledge their loyalty to the recreation retailer by paying $20 for a lifetime membership to REI’s co-op membership program. In exchange for the fee members receive 10% of the total amount of money they spent at REI in the previous year. In addition to this solid deal, co-op members also get:

  • Members-only special offers.
  • Access to in-store REI Garage Sales, during which customers can save as much as 50% and more on gently used and returned gear at these semiannual events.
  • Special pricing on REI Outdoor School classes and events, rentals, bike and ski shop services, and REI Adventures trips.

According to the REI website, in 2018, the co-op:

  • Added more than 1 million new members in 2018
  • Membership increased to 18+ million people who love the outdoors
  • Members received $204 million in dividends and REI credit card rewards

What makes the REI co‑op even more unique though is that they give back a significant portion of the profits to support environmental impact initiatives.

Loyalty lesson: when it comes to building a loyal customer base, it pays to give back.

5.Amazon

No one is surprised to see this retail giant on the list. Boasting more than 100 million members, Amazon’s Prime program might is a force to be reckoned with. Obviously, Amazon has a lot of unique advantages due to its size and wealth of resources, but the fundamental way in which they approach loyalty and customer experience is relevant to and repeatable for other, smaller brands. Boiled down, they capture customer data and convert it into something actionable. Actionable means delivering personalized recommendations for shoppers, anticipating what customers will need in the future, and more. Many retailers have data, but struggle to activate it to influence the customer journey the way Amazon has.

Loyalty lesson: data is the mother of loyalty.