Effective loyalty programmes deliver what all stakeholders in the retail market need: relevant information. Some offer a far higher degree of detail than others, some are niched and rewards differ, but in general, they connect shoppers with shops and brands, states Andrew Weinberg, CEO of 2Engage and bonsella.

The 2020 South African Loyalty Awards highlighted the increasing value of targeted information in the retail space for all stakeholders – consumers, retailers and brands – with competition criteria measuring how loyalty excellence can drive commercial results and better customer experiences.

South Africa is proving to be ahead of the global loyalty game, according to Matt Oldham, one of the judges and MD and co-founder at UK’s Partner Union, who refers to the South African market as ‘The standout place for loyalty innovation and excellence’ in the Loyalty Awards Winners Report.

Where old school coalitions are faltering in other markets, true partnerships with programme inter-operability continue to expand and thrive in South Africa. Leading-edge tech is liberally sprinkled across the South African loyalty landscape. The strengths of the sector is its ability to adapt and create relevance in such a diverse socio-demographic spectrum.

Encouraging and complimentary words they may be, but the learning curve for programmes that have navigated the wild waters of South African selling, marketing and shopping choices has been, and will continue to be, steep, particularly within the main market, both for those trying to sell to it and for the consumers themselves. Determining the scope that needs to be included to source the right information for the right market and/or consumer at the right time, takes time. 

A fundamental learning is that loyalty and customer engagement does work in the main market. This market has largely been ignored, primarily because of its complexity and inaccessibility, but consistent and in-depth efforts to connect with the market, to offer value, information and loyalty rewards are achieving excellent results.

Unique platforms can integrate with different in-store point-of-sale systems in stores and provide value for everyone:

  • Detailed relevant statistics and analysis to enable brands to run targeted campaigns that achieve excellent take-up, with access to sale out data, category share, customer demographics and buying behaviour.
  • Specific and niched information to enable retailers to finetune their buying, promoting and in-store activity plans around optimal shopping times.
  • Rewards, shopper activations, competitions and deals to bring them to the stores.

December shopper research

With the extensive in-store agent network, one is able to run research campaigns in the independent sector to gain insight into main market shopping plans. These face-to-face surveys were conducted by in-store bonsella agents with 557 over-18-year-old shoppers early in December, across eight provinces.

Their primary reasons for shopping at that specific store were price (48%), product variety (17%), to receive bonsella airtime rewards (16.3%) and convenience (14%). More than 90% responded yes to the question, ‘Does information such as flyers, posters or SMSes about specials or competitions help you decide where you will shop?’ The different communication channels rated 37% for SMSes, 23% for flyers, 17% for posters, 16% for newspaper advertising and 5% for radio.

Almost 74% of the shoppers said they shopped Black Friday deals this year, over 57% said they would have done their Christmas shopping by mid-December, 64% said they would shop where they normally shop, and 78% said yes, they would be buying special, non-essential items for Christmas – with luxury groceries and clothes coming in at 64%.

The success that can be achieved when loyalty is a central pillar of a business strategy will be vital in keeping valuable customer relationships alive in these challenging times.