We are about halfway into 2021.
For most of us, this year too seems like a reflection of last year. The Lion City is not an exception too. Of course, the changes that pandemic has brought were inevitable and Singaporeans are now adapting to the post-pandemic habits. It was noted that last year 31% of Singaporeans actually shopped online for the first time during the pandemic! The same study also predicts that even when the pandemic ends, half of Singaporeans would prefer shopping from large online marketplaces. This sudden surge in ecommerce shopping activities have brought a twist to the current retail arena in Singapore.
Retailers and marketers are thus focusing more on creating a loyal customer base. Combating the sky-rocketing shop rental costs and reduced store footfall, loyalty programs could be the hook retailers are looking at. The importance of having an omnichannel loyalty program has gained more momentum than ever. A report by FIS (payment software) claims that 81% of Singaporeans prefer shopping with the retailer who has a loyalty program. Sadly, 48% of Singaporeans feel that they have very limited engagement with the loyalty programs. So before we distill the fine practices of a loyalty program, let’s take a closer look at some of the top loyalty programs in Singapore that have been there and done that, and that too exceptionally well.
1. The GrabRewards – Cashless First, Loyalty Program
Leading with the changing environment around is Grab Rewards. A leading public infrastructure provider, Grab is now home to the popular App offering hyper local services as well. Their loyalty program has gain more precedence in the last year owing to its consistent intent and endeavor of promoting cashless, contactless payments by offering more rewards. They have a 4-tiered membership where the members can climb from Member to Silver to Gold and finally Platinum by adding more points. As they have introduced GrabPay Wallet as the mode of payment, it allows its members to earn more points through the same tier benefits if they pay through Grab wallet. The best part is its point expiration policy. As long as you make 1 Grab cashless transaction within the next 6 months of your last transaction, your points will continue to accumulate.
2. TungLokFirst – Instant Gratification Loyalty Program
With over 35 restaurants across Asia, the TungLok Group is a delight for the Singaporean diners offering both traditional Chinese fare as well as the Modern Chinese cuisine in Singapore. TungLokFirst, their loyalty program enables multiple touch points by offering members to redeem their points across different restaurants under the group. It provides personalized offers, vouchers, discounts and other delectable privileges to extend an unparalleled dining experience to its loyal customers. Besides new sign-up bonus, online sign-up bonus, birthday month special offers; members can also get more rebate during non-peak hours from Monday to Thursday on a-la-carte orders and set menus. One of the unique privileges that its members can avail is the dynamic rebates on their bill instantly.
3. CapitaStar – 24/7 Loyalty Program
Hailed as Singapore’s leading lifestyle and shopping rewards program, CapitaStar is a 24/7 app-based loyalty program that offers members to spend across CapitaLand Malls, eCapitaMall and Capita3Eats. Part of the CapitaLand Rewards program, members earn stars and rewards for every transaction they make in the above outlets. This multi-store cardless rewards program is also available in China and Malaysia besides Singapore. With over 1.1 million members, this program has no membership fee or expiry date. It also offers additional rewards for the birthday month as well as event invitations and promotions to its exclusive member-only events at the participating CapitaLand Mall. It issues a car parking e-voucher that could be used with all the participating CapitaLand malls.
4. NTUC FairPrice Group’s Plus – Coalition Loyalty Program
Introduced by the NTUC Link Private Limited, Plus is Singapore’s most popular coalition loyalty program. With a member count touching 2.3 million, it partners with 1000 outlets and allows members to earn LinkPoints which can be earned online as well as in-store purchase. These points can be redeemed for instant savings or exchanging points. In 2020, NTUC collaborated with Kopitiam and NTUC Foodfare to form FairPrice Group. Created for its members, the Plus App offers a feature – Stamp Your Way which allows members to check-in every time they visit a store and collect a reward on completing a certain number of visits. Members can also review their LinkPoints as they shop with different brands in one single-view.
5. Healthy 365 – Health First, Loyalty Program
Spearheaded by the Ministry of Health and Health Promotion Board Singapore, this app-based loyalty program aims to inculcate healthy living habits. Given the pandemic has further highlighted the importance of health and immunity, this app is gaining traction amongst Singaporeans these days. Users can maintain a log of routine activity like counting the total number of steps per day, exercising time, etc. It also offers a wide array of health articles, go-to health directory of the region and interesting challenges. When a user signup for these health programs and challenges, they earn Health points which can be redeemed to purchase healthier food options, groceries and drinks.
The Future of Loyalty Programs in Singapore
As Singaporeans stay merry with the freebies attached to the loyalty programs, a recent survey states that non-expiring points, cashbacks and rewards with multiple retailers have proven to be the sure-shot way to encourage members to sign up for a new loyalty program. With new innovations like- Friends and Family (group loyalty) and partner programs making inroads; it’s time brands rethink their loyalty strategy and implement the right mix suited to their loyal customer needs.
Echoing the spirit of togetherness, the holy month of Ramadan is a time well-spent with family and friends. If the last year saw people stocking up during this month as a result of panic-buying, this year, people are equipped to observe the holy month amidst the pandemic. Given the vaccination roll out has kick-started in some countries but the ongoing pandemic-related restrictions continue, the festivities are somewhat affected in the Middle Eastern region. While this time always pose a great opportunity for businesses to see a significant jump in their revenue, marketers have now found their new retail normal.
Last year, Ramadan gave rise to customer trends that shifted marketer’s focus to a new customer engagement platform that could enhance the experience of a brand’s customers. Let’s take a look at these trends and see how personalized customer engagement is now the quintessential ingredient for every marketer in the Middle East during Ramadan 2021.
1. Go Digital
Togetherness – the spirit of Ramadan led people to stay connected despite the pandemic restrictions imposed all across. In 2020, world’s largest gathering to break open the fast was organized online. This online event secured a place at the Guinness Book of World Records and gave rise to a new digital audience. Brands accordingly designed their new Ramadan marketing campaign strategy. Here are some numbers that further enabled marketers to tweak the demographics of their audience. In their recent report – ‘Ramadan: This is the Joy of Discovery’ Facebook shared some interesting insights on media consumption habits of people in the Middle East.
A look at UAE’s preferred media choices
A look at Saudi Arabia’s preferred media choices
Almost 44% people in UAE and 42% in Saudi Arabia spend time on their mobile device during the holy month of Ramadan.
An equally interesting highlight is that Whatsapp is the preferred choice over other social media channels with 39% people in Saudi Arabia and 42% in UAE opting for it.
This trend clearly emphasize on why marketers need to relook at their Ramadan marketing campaigns.
2. Online Shopping
While it’s debatable and still a far calling whether physical store visit could completely replace the online shopping model but this Ramadan, digital audience undoubtedly gave rise to online shopping. A Survey by checkout.com (leading global payment solutions provider) tells us that 95% of Saudi Arabia and UAE residents are preferring online shopping. This is expected to grow further during Ramadan 2021. The report also indicated that this isn’t a short-term strategy but a long-term customer behavioral pattern that has resulted from the trends post Covid-19 pandemic. Now, let’s look at the expected purchases that consumers are likely to make during Ramadan 2021:
Most-shopped categories expected during Ramadan 2021
3. Personalized Customer Engagement is the key
With digital avenues opened up and online shopping becoming a rage, this Ramadan, retailers in the Middle East are focusing on building smarter marketing strategies without disrupting their brand value while catering to consumer’s shifting behavior pattern at the same time. A startling fact that emerged here was 68% Saudi viewers watch more advertisements of their favorite brands that focused on relevant messaging. Consumers are more responsive to brands that exhibit personalized shopping experience.
Personalized messaging using robust customer engagement tool
Choosing appropriate content to build Ramadan marketing campaigns is as important as selecting the medium used to deliver it. In an age where mobile is the device and direct messaging, WhatsApp communication is taking the plunge, brands are opting for personalized customization across all channels to build more engaged audience. With emerging automated marketing tools offering features like time personalization, brands can send out relevant communication, at appropriate times during Ramadan and share relevant communication with people. A personalized customer engagement tool can deliver desired outcome from a brand’s Ramadan marketing campaign.
4. Building Customer Advocacy
During the month of Ramadan, consumers would like to see brands who held themselves accountable for the marketing campaigns themed around being sensitive to the world outside and consistently care for their customers. A reason why marketers would like to engage better with their loyal customers by curating unique experiences. This is a great time to build customer loyalty and exhibit your brand value in a new light. Given the trends tipping towards digitization, a detailed mobile loyalty program could be one of the many strategies that a brand can eventually build with their audience to establish customer advocacy with the brand.
Brands building customer advocacy using loyalty programs
Ramadan 2021 offers this year…
Brands far and wide are staying connected with their consumers during Ramadan by building interesting marketing promotions like Instant gifting for high-spending customers, Gamification, free deliveries with no-cost exchanges, allowing customers to donate their loyalty points for charity, etc. Capillary Technologies powers 100+ such marketing promotions including the likes of RedTag, Bata, Malabar Gold & Diamonds among others enabling brands to deliver compelling customer experience. Take for instance, Red Tag who announced Ramadan Bonanza Raffle using gamification strategy and offering 600 Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G smartphones emphasizing on delighting their customers. Malabar Gold & Diamonds is strengthening its CSR campaign this festive season by offering over 500K iftar meals as part of this festive season.
‘Satisfaction is a rating… Loyalty is a brand.’
Quoted Shep Hyken, a noted Customer Service public speaker and Chief Amazement Officer (CAO) at Shepard Presentations. He focusses on the significance on how a loyal customer base makes companies transform into world-class brands. Undoubtedly, credible loyalty programs form a major part of this ideology as it promises a devoted set of customers.
A study backed by McKinsey group claims 87% of shoppers in Middle East and Africa are inclined to shop with a retailer that offers retail loyalty programs. It therefore, comes as a no-brainer that the Middle Eastern market’s upgraded promotional schemes like visual merchandising, advertising and loyalty programs are an inspiration to the global retail industry to catapult customers that are driven by innovative loyalty programs. An equally telling research by iVend Retail Worldwide revealed that 53% of shoppers in the Middle East shop exclusively to earn loyalty rewards and points. As we embark on the evolution of retail loyalty programs in the Middles East, let’s begin by understanding what makes a retail loyalty program so worthy. Before we move ahead, take a look at the figures below drawn from the iVend Retail research focusing on why shoppers vouch for a loyalty program in the Middle East retail market.
As per iVend Retail Research 2019 report
As we dive deeper into the retail segment of the Middle East, let’s take a cue from some of the lauded retail loyalty programs that have been there and continue to churn profitable wallets, rooted by a loyal customer base.
A premium rewards program by Al Tayer Group, Amber has partnered with more than 80 brands including automotive brands like Ferrari and Jaguar thereby bolstering its premium presence across the world. Amber offers memberships categorised as Classic, Select and Plus offering a wider gamut of rewards and privileges. However, Amber‘s major evolution begin in 2016 with the launch of the new Amber App in UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. A highly rated App, it is available in English and Arabic languages. Amber’s digital evolution has not only impacted its current customer base which rose 13x than before, but the conversion rate too which has scaled up to 2.5 times.
2. Shukran Rewards
Translated as ‘thank you’ in Arabic, Shukran Rewards is owned by the renowned Landmark Group in Dubai offering almost 57 global brands. This award-winning loyalty program in the Middle East boasts of over 10 million members spread out over 9 countries owing to its decade-long presence in the market. While the company started its innings by offering a physical card and but in 2016, owing to the digital evolution, the company announced its virtual card which could be downloaded from the Shukran App available on both iOS and Android.
3. Club Apparel
Offering a range of over 75 brands currently, Club Apparel started with a cardless, App-based loyalty program and is helmed by the Apparel Group across entire GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) region. It was also the first entity to offer a digital retail experience in the retail loyalty program segment. The group has enjoyed a massive customer base and to further strengthen their subscribers, it was in 2016 when the Cardless maverick introduced a three-tier membership program offering more privileges, rewards and access to VIP events at every tier to their subscribers. This move was aimed at offering exceptional services to its shoppers.
World’s second largest retailer Carrefour partnered with Majid Al Futtaim Group to launch this loyalty program in UAE. While all the other loyalty programs focus on Lifestyle and Fashion brands, Carrefour is the only loyalty program catering to the quintessential commodity – groceries. A lifetime free card, it is available at 17 Carrefour Hypermarket and 19 Carrefour Supermarket in the region. With the foray of digitization in the retail segment, Al Futtaim Group launched a loyalty program namely SHARE in 2019 under which Carrefour points can also be clubbed now. This move was aimed at customer convenience by allowing shoppers the flexibility to earn and redeem points with other partners by downloading the SHARE App.
5. SHARE Rewards
Spearheaded by the Majid Al-Futtaim Retail Group, this is the Group’s first centralized customer loyalty program offering lucrative rewards when shopping with the Group brands and partners across 17 malls in the GCC & Egypt regions. A recent entrant in the retail loyalty program bandwagon, SHARE Rewards is rated 4.5 on the Google Play Store and is a popular choice for shoppers in UAE. SHARE Rewards redemption is also applicable on other Al Futtaim brands including Carrefour, VOX Cinemas, Magic Planet, Ski Dubai, Little Explorers, iFly Dubai, Crate & Barrel, American Girl and Lego making it an irresistible deal for shoppers.
Transition from loyalty cards to loyalty apps
The above tabular representation signifies the digital evolution that surged in the Middle East Retail market around 2016. The ubiquity of retail loyalty Apps in the Middle East largely reflect how digitalization wave has gripped the region. Indeed, the recent Pandemic times has exhibited a major shift in the shopping behaviour across the globe with Middle East not being an exception. This statement is further quantified by a consumer incentive study by Wirecard which highlights the fact that 70% of shoppers are accessing App for a fuller control of their retail choices and experiences. With the tipping scale pointing more towards the consumers now, App-based loyalty programs can be a game-changer. The recent move by Al Futtaim Group also stands as a testimony to a forthcoming evolution in the retail industry. Given the facts, figures and the current industry moves by many stalwarts; it can be said that…
… the evolution in retail has begun; the revolution is not far behind.