Points vs Merchandise
There’s more than one side to every story, and there are plenty of conflicting sides to the story of customer loyalty. But, at Incentivesmart, we’ve made B2B loyalty our lifeblood, and as a result, know a thing or two about growing it.
We’ve written before about the points vs pounds debate – and, more recently, about the question of points vs vouchers – but what about points vs the corporate favourite: merchandise?
Here’s what you need to know.
Points are slow burners
This could be a positive or a negative depending on which way you spin it. The benefit of a slow burn is you know it’ll deliver a good (and worthwhile) ROI eventually. If you can stick with it as it gradually gathers momentum, you can reap the benefits – and, in the case of a customer loyalty programme, you can be confident that those benefits will be more than worth the initial investment of time and money.
Points are slow burners for you just as they are for your customers. Those first few times they’re allocated points, redeeming them against any one of the items in your rewards catalogue will feel like a relatively distant prospect. Ideally, it won’t feel so distant that they lose interest, but it’ll be distant enough that it makes financial sense to you.
In both instances, a little patience pays dividends.
Merchandise serves an immediate purpose, and it usually works. Around 90% of people can recall the name of a brand they’ve received merch from in the past year, and that’s great! But is that all you want to achieve? A good loyalty scheme does a lot more than solidify your brand’s name in customers’ memories.
Merchandise is more memorable than points…
…But varied and thought-through rewards catalogues will offer plenty of options that are a lot more memorable than company merch. And remember – your customers will be able to view the rewards catalogue as they work on saving their rewards points, and that’s a great way to maintain interest and engagement as they return for subsequent transactions.
One of the biggest benefits of a customer loyalty programme is the fact that it enables you to create more memorable interactions with your customers. Points win out over pounds for many reasons, but largely because saving and redeeming points against a specific reward from the catalogue is way more memorable than spending a little extra cash on a routine cost like gas or bills. Over time, you can grow those emotional connections with customers – connections that are a lot more compelling than your competitors’ on-the-spot promotions.
Merchandise is definitely more memorable than cash – after all, it’s got your name on it. But merch also has limited appeal compared with rewards like tech, confectionery, and once-in-a-lifetime experiences.
The Right Rewards Catalogue Will Have Longer Lasting Appeal
Don’t get us wrong – some merch is great. Most of us have held onto a piece of merchandise or two over the years, and it’s a great reminder of a brand we genuinely align with. We’re certainly not saying that your customers are going to toss out any and all merch they receive after a couple of weeks.
But, at the same time, we don’t want to keep receiving merch indefinitely, or our homes and offices will start to look like mini conventions decorated to the hilt with branded pens, mugs, t-shirts strung up like bunting, and message bugs staring vacantly with those googly eyes.
There’s a limit to how far merch will take you with any given customer – even the more eccentric collectors among us.
A good rewards catalogue will continue to encourage ongoing interest even after a customer has redeemed a handful of rewards from it, meaning it can keep serving you into the future.
There are only so many things you can fit your logo on
True, companies often come up with innovative new ways to offer merch that step outside the usual box and captivate recipients. It’s not all about mug printing anymore, after all. But there is and always will be a limitation to the sorts of merch you can create.
By contrast, we are constantly updating our rewards catalogue through daily changes and seasonal promotions to keep reinvigorating interest in customer and channel incentives week by week. Things never need to feel as though they’ve grown stale or tired because they never will. There will always be plenty of rewards worth working for – it’s just a matter of figuring out what they are, and utilising the right marketing channels to keep customers up to date. That’s what our Incentivesmarties are busy doing, and why we’re aficionados of the B2B loyalty programme.
Points are more convenient
At Incentivesmart, it’s our job to think of everything so you don’t have to. Our rewards catalogue isn’t just curated to be appealing and motivating, but to be convenient for the businesses that use it. Merch needs to be bulk-ordered and stored and distributed – and that all comes at a considerable cost (and, if you’re concerned about brand responsibility, a pretty sizeable carbon footprint, too).
Your rewards catalogue can be anything you want it to be. You can tailor it to reflect your target demographic, your company values, or capture a little of everything for maximum appeal.
Points mean data
The obvious upshot of any loyalty programme is its ability to boost customer loyalty…obviously!
But there are plenty of other benefits, too – and one of the most compelling is the sheer volume of customer data and insights your programme will generate. Compile analytics that detail every step in their journey – including the kinds of rewards they’re interested in – so you can have a 360° view of their buyer persona.
That level of insight simply isn’t possible if you’re rewarding with merch alone. You need the framework offered by the loyalty programme in order to generate and curate that information.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with merchandise. It’s a lot more memorable than a cash-based reward, and it is way more personal than vouchers. Offering a few custom rewards through the Incentivesmart platform is always an option, but it doesn’t have to be the sum total. Mix it up, ensure your rewards catalogue is diverse and engaging, and you’ll find it a lot easier to build loyalty from your customers.