How social and data reshaped loyalty

Big data and social media are bringing about sweeping changes to the way brands engage and retain loyal customers.

“What is important for loyalty today is you have to find the need of customers,” Kevin Coon, vice president BMW group importer market of BMW Group China, said.

Coon, who kicked off the inaugural Customer Loyalty 2013 Hong Kong conference, said the role of loyalty was key for the launch of  its newest model BMW i.

“The automobile industry is changing, we need a 360 degree story to deliver our beliefs and products in the heart of our customers.”

The solution, he said, lies in the concept of urban mobility.

“We have to make the story more interesting to build better connection between the brand and customers.”

He adds that concept behind the product is a key to differentiate the brand from the crowd.

Technology, the conference heard, is also a game changer in the loyalty space.

Chun Yin Mak, managing director global business services of IBM China/Hong Kong, said marketers now have the tools to take relationships up a level with big data, social and mobile.

“Customer want more interaction in this digital age,” he said. “Customer relationship really starts with the experience.”

In line with the rapid developing digital age, Chun points out that there are three elements that nowadays marketing insiders should focus on - Understanding each customer as an individual; creating a system of engagement that maximises value at every touch; and designing the brand culture to make it authentic.

He went on to say that creating and architecting new customer experience is essential these days. Customers need to be understood as individual, in networks (who they talk to, who they trust), and contextually, he suggests.

“It is important to interconnect all of the above and apply with scale, and to fully activate the organisation to deliver optimum customer experience while continually innovating.”

“Personalisation is a key concept nowadays.”

Digital and social media are the next big focus at Estee Lauer also. Pierre Abadie Lacourtoisie, regional director, digital and online of Estee Lauder than explains to the guests the impact of social/digital media in loyalty for the luxury industry.

“Luxury brand is different then other brands. People make luxury purchases for their dreams and to serve the purpose of self-representation, it is highly social,” he said.

Motivation behind purchase is socially driven and therefore social has a key role along purchase journey.

With 22 social media channels in Asia and 3.8 million fans in APAC, the label seems to be well aware of the role of digital plays in nowadays consumer journey.

Abadie Lacourtoisie pointed out three points that need to be considered in digital marketing – connect, to trigger engagement; recruit, to convince consumers; and  build loyalty, to enhance consumption.

“In cosmetic brand you really need to be convincing,” said Lacourtoisie.

“Digital and social media are good ways for emotional bonding and are aim for bridging different marketing practices. We try our best to avoid hard-selling  on digital, because a hard sell content can drive customer loyalty away.”

Keeping customers via digital with a subtle approach is also what CSL is looking to.

Beyond Clutter

To stay competitive in the fast growing smartphone market in Hong Kong, CSL has turned to create a deeper conversation online in a passively driven, hinges on a tit for tat approach rather than parallel dynamics.

One example is the latest “Playground” campaign, which aims to create local relevant content in order to resonate with consumers on a day to day basis. The campaign goes with a game app “Playground” where users were encouraged to share the results on social media.

We want a genuine conversation to customers and build up relevancy instead of leveraging the platforms to buy and sell.

At CSL, the purposes of getting and keeping fans come before monetising the campaigns, he says.

“We avoid to monetise the content upfront. Once they think it’s a direct marketing content, we lost trust from them.”

“We want to make sure we build the bonding with customer upfront first.”