The COVID-19 pandemic pushed forward many trends in customer preferences that were not considered a priority by some companies. While the mid-term and long-term perspectives regarding the depth of post-pandemic recession remain uncertain, we still can highlight several tendencies on the consumer market with reasonable certainty.

We want to make this article as practical as possible. That’s why along with every trend highlight, we will share our suggestions on how you can adjust your customer loyalty program or some aspects of marketing to sustain your company performance.

Trend 1: Spending habits are starting to get back to normal

According to the findings of a longitudinal study performed by Customer Communications Group, Inc., people are returning to their usual spending habits.

Individuals surveyed for this study indicated that their spending habits are now swinging closer to “not changed at all” and are more balanced between “buying essentials only” and “buying whatever I want.” In April 2020, they stated their spending had “changed drastically,” and they were “buying essentials only.”

Unsurprisingly, the degree of change in spending habits heavily depended on the individual’s income class bracket.

What should you do about it: Make the most meaningful offers

Despite this optimistic trend, some customers might still have more budget restrictions than they did before, either due to a decline in income or a decision to put more money into savings “for a rainy day.”

You might want to implement a system of discounts and lower-price product options for this category of customers.

At the same time, you can offer more value through premium services and, again, the product range for customers whose income remains stable.

How can you do it: Segment your customer base

To make the most relevant offers for your current customers and retain their loyalty, you need to ensure that your customer base segmentation corresponds to their current needs. You can analyze their purchase recency and frequency, average check, and brand selection.

Depending on when the last purchase was made, you can try to approach your customers with offers that would make the most sense for them and help you retain their loyalty.

Trend 2: Most customers still have their go-to brands

Customers Loyalty Programs: 6 Trends To Consider To Sustain Performance

The same study from Customer Communications Group, Inc. had revealed that 35% of consumers could still be characterized as “Loyalists.” Simultaneously, 28% are “Neutral” but have some go-to retailers for particular product categories.

What should you do about it: Give customers a solid reason to be loyal

Customer loyalty programs are probably the best tool to help your company remain that “go-to” brand or even become one, even during a recession.

The tried-and-true point-based rewards system will bring you the best results if you incorporate more rewards options customers could choose from.

How can you do it: Show that you care

Besides exclusive offers, personalized discounts, or merchandise, there are other options that could have value for your customers.

For example, various forms of charitable donations are the biggest trend of recent years. It became even more pertinent in times of pandemic and will positively impact your brand image.

Trend 3: The interval between repeat purchases had increased in some categories

Customers Loyalty Programs: 6 Trends To Consider To Sustain Performance

Multiple product and service categories are now purchased less often: clothing, makeup, airline tickets, hotel stays – the list could go on and on. Offering new product and service categories will be a great way to maintain your income stream, but you also can stay on top of your customers’ minds for what you’ve been offering them before the pandemic.

What should you do about it: Maintain the connection

Putting a stop to communication with your customers is kind of a wrong idea. You still want to connect through various channels like email and social media with useful information or inspiring examples.

You can still ask about your customers’ opinions and reward them for leaving reviews, completing a survey, referring to a friend, or generating content for social media. This will help your brand to remain a number one choice when your customers have to purchase your product category.

How can you do it: Adjust your content strategy

Many brands in multiple B2C industries had been utilizing content marketing years before the pandemic. This is the next best tool to interact with your customer in between purchases after rewarding non-buying activity.

You can get inspiration from the cosmetic, skincare, or sports industries. As an example, you can check the Rituals Cosmetics YouTube channel with a lot of lifestyle videos or TRX Training Club, which even monetizes their content.

Trend 4: Physical distancing is still a thing

Customers Loyalty Programs: 6 Trends To Consider To Sustain Performance

Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic is far from over. Therefore, maintaining social distance is important for keeping our health, and companies should make anything possible to help their customers make purchases safely and get all necessary information easily.

What should you do about it: Focus on digital channels

Building awareness around your website across your current customer base and potential clients might become a key to the survival of your business in general. Besides building a user-friendly, informative website, your brand might also benefit from being represented on large e-commerce platforms.

Some Chinese D2C brands could serve as an avant-garde example of navigating through multiple complex ecosystems with impressive results.

How can you do it: Adjust every aspect of your business operations

Digital commerce, in a way, is different from the traditional ones, and it requires multiple operational adjustments, especially in current circumstances.

For example, you will likely need to advance delivery time frames, increase the period for returns, automate and facilitate the return process as much as possible, reward subscriptions and other activities that are not directly related to purchasing.

Trend 5: Customers won’t share their data unless you offer something valuable in return

Customers Loyalty Programs: 6 Trends To Consider To Sustain Performance

87% of consumers accept that brands monitor details of their activity in exchange for personalized rewards. Alternatively, they are more likely to unsubscribe from company communication and minimize interactions with a brand that continuously promotes irrelevant or unattractive offers.

What should you do about it: Step up your efforts for personalization

Measures for better personalization might include careful customer base segmentation, utilizing AI in marketing, and omnichannel communication. Brand should be available throughout the communication channels that are most convenient for customers depending on their age and digital literacy.

How can you do it: Improve your customer service

According to the Hubspot Consumer Report, 90% of customers rate an “immediate” response when they have a customer service question. Chatbots are proven to be quite helpful in keeping pace with such demands. If you want to see a model example of a customer service chatbot implementation, you definitely should check the iHerb platform.

Trend 6: We’re likely to go through multiple cycles of localized quarantines

Customers Loyalty Programs: 6 Trends To Consider To Sustain Performance

Luckily, many of us are now able to travel on business or even fly abroad on holidays. However, the safety norms of the vast majority of countries demand travelers be quarantined for up to 14 days, which turns into quite a challenging time even if a person can work remotely. Besides, there’s still a possibility of localized lockdowns with similar consequences for individuals.

What should you do about it: Explore opportunities to entertaining your customers

“Every company is becoming an entertainment company today,” Steven Van Belleghem said in his video dedicated to customer experience trends for 2021. This video contains some interesting examples of companies that increased their customer base or even managed to create a new revenue stream during the lockdown by moving in that direction.

How can you do it: Offer more engaging and interactive content to your loyalty program 

Multiple limitations caused by the pandemic increase consumption of various information in an attempt to overcome routine and boredom. Customers are likely to appreciate useful and educational content in your area of expertise or even dedicated to your products.

In this context, The Wishtrend Company could serve as a remarkable example. This company is simultaneously a producer, online retailer, and media company, where all the areas of activity reinforce each other. You might not want to go that far, but providing quality content around your products and services will impact your customer loyalty.

Conclusions

The COVID-19 is actively reshaping consumption patterns and the landscape of commerce. It poses many challenges but simultaneously creates plenty of opportunities. Having a modern, thought-through customer loyalty program in current circumstances is key to growing and maintaining your customer base.

Customer loyalty programs are one of the key areas of our expertise. You can contact us in any convenient way if you have any questions about starting a new program or modernizing an existing one.

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