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Brands love giving back to their customers.


Okay, so maybe you don’t believe this.

Let’s start here; customers love rewards – it’s science. The experience of being rewarded stimulates our pleasure pathways in the brain, which releases dopamine that, well, keeps us wanting more. Take a look here for a more in-depth explanation.

The point is that brands that have epic rewards have the science to keep us coming back for more, but their approach to rewards is not a one-size fits all effort, otherwise, we assure you we wouldn’t be coming back.

We aim to show you exactly what kind of nuanced thinking has gone into each brand’s reward strategy and why they have the “best-loved rewards” according to us.

Here goes; 6 of the best-loved rewards and the brands behind them:

1. Sainsbury’s

This popular grocery brand based in the U.K is leading the charge with a compelling rewards and loyalty strategy.

They come from a popular discount-based loyalty approach – offering their existing customer base discounts, based on whether or not they have a loyalty card, and also offering a certain kind of exclusivity to that shopping experience.

While this is what we’ve come to know and experience the world over, Sainsbury’s is on to something new.

But what exactly?

They want to create a shopping experience that is more personalised and interactive with their brand. In short, they want to create more “genuine reward loyalty”.

Their new model grabs the digital landscape with both hands. They’ve created an app that curates lists of products, based on a customer’s shopping behaviour. The customer is not only rewarded for how much they spend but also, how frequently they use the store, as well as their loyalty longevity.

The move towards this loyalty and reward model ensures that customers truly feel like they are a part of something personal and authentic.

What do you think of this model?

Strategic takeouts: A hypersegmentation strategy that aims to achieve exceptional customer personalisation, this process also has enhanced brand loyalty.

2. Jones Soda

A US-based soda company has a behaviourally ingenious rewards strategy aimed directly at the Millennial generation.

Their model is based on collecting. You know that deeply craving, then satisfying feeling of collecting all 10 cards, bottles, or Simba chips’ tazzos.

Yes, that’s the very motif that they’ve drawn from.

Their Caps For Gear reward system sees customers buying sodas, collecting the caps and then sending their collections back to Jones Soda for the redemption of cool prizes. ‘Cool’ as in  GoPro cool rewards!

The Jones’ Instagram account can be found with loads of user-generated content from customers who are simply excited to be sharing their stories with the brand and their own social audiences.

Well played Jones!

Strategic takeout: Jones draws on the motivation and satisfaction of collecting items to be redeemed for prizes. They’ve made use of social media to create hype around who’s collecting and who’s winning, and also how those rewards are being put to use.

3. Consol

Consol is the leading glass packaging manufacturer in South Africa. Their most recent innovation is the redesign of the water bottle. They’ve made the addition of a multitude of brightly coloured silicone grips and lids to their bottles. And they’re a hit – you can’t walk into an office or home that doesn’t have one.

There’s smart thinking behind this design that taps into our desire to beautify even the most simple things in life, like a bottle of water. And guess what? It makes the experience more rewarding.

It’s the same thinking at work in Consol’s 70th birthday celebration, which saw the company launch the #BringBackPure campaign.

The campaign’s core focus is that milk is fresher, colder and tastier in a glass bottle.

The campaign draws on the nostalgic memories of South Africans who remember when milk was delivered in glass bottles to front doors every day.

So what did Consol do?

You guessed it, they delivered fresh farm milk to homes across Joburg and Cape Town. To add to this, those that received a delivery were able to nominate a friend to receive a glass bottle of milk too.

You can imagine that social media loved this initiative!

This activation draws powerfully on the element of nostalgia and emotive memory among South African citizens. Not surprisingly, it was a hugely successful campaign for Consol.

Strategic takeout: Consol knows how to draw on human emotion and nostalgia as a strategy to drive brand awareness and loyalty. Never underestimate the connection between a brand and a human being; it can be a powerful driver of brand loyalty.

4. Nike

Nike is a leading global footwear and sports apparel brand. The Nike Plus rewards program makes use of experiential rewards that are tailored toward its members.

The Nike Plus customer is one that truly values athletic performance and the rewards program meets those needs exceptionally!


Nike Plus members can expect to receive top tips on specific training techniques offered by Nike experts. Members also get early access to new training gear and they’re offered special access to Nike events where members can interact with Nike experts.

Their suite of applications finds its magic when used on a mobile device. Nike has really taken into consideration that ours is an era in which we carry our tech with us everywhere we go. And why would our training regimes be any different?

Are you ready to “Just Do It”?

Strategic takeout: This strategy speaks to customers’ growing need for communications and rewards that are based on their personal preferences and experiences with the brand. Customers expect an exclusive and VIP treatment in return for their brand loyalty, and Nike achieves this.

5. Starbucks

The popular coffee shop, founded in 1971, has recently found that “20% of Starbucks customers are responsible for 40% of overall earnings.”

Their rewards program may have something to do with it. Let’s take a look at how it works:

The Starbucks app offers regular customers rewards and notifies them of any new offerings or promotions. It also alleviates the process of standing in line to order coffee, as this can be done through a mobile device. The app is also used to enhance and promote brand engagement and loyalty.

That’s a digital experience that delivers!

But that’s not all…

The application offers customers personalised recommendations based on the time of day that a coffee is normally ordered. The app also calculates the average preference of a particular customer pairing their coffee with a food item, and which food item they may consider purchasing, too.

This experience not only provides Starbucks customers with convenience, it also promotes brand loyalty and awareness.

What’s more is that, as a result, 12% of all orders received are now from the mobile application alone!

Strategic takeout: A digital focus for Starbucks has seen a multitude of benefits for loyalty and brand awareness. Loyal customers feel an authentic connection to the brand; one that truly takes their interests and preferences seriously.

6. What would this list be without Coca-Cola?

Here’s a story worth sharing. The popular brand announced a loyalty and reward overhaul, alerting members as to how and when to redeem points before the change-over. Thanks, Coca-Cola!

So, when the time came for the new rewards program to be launched, what did Coca-Cola do with all the unclaimed rewards points?

They donated whatever points were left to a wide range of different charities! As a result of this successful initiative, customers can now choose to donate their Coke points to any of these charities should they wish to.

How wonderful to know that all those points weren’t simply written off or left dormant in a redundant system or claimed back by the multi-billion dollar company! That, instead, they made people’s lives better.

But what about the new loyalty and rewards program?

Coca-Cola revamped its rewards strategy to take into consideration a stronger digital and mobile focus. They identified that their customers preferred to receive smaller pieces of highly personalised information via social media than their traditional rewards program could offer.

But… Coke has more to offer the world.

The “Share a Coke” campaign enjoys its fifth consecutive year in 2018. This year sees even more innovation.

What’s interesting to note is how it started out; the first campaign saw names printed on bottles and cans, thus creating excitement in finding your name on an iconic product. Coke saw that customers would share their excitement with their friends and family too.

This campaign has become about so much more than finding your name. It’s about the experiences and memories that are made whilst enjoying a Coke, whether it be on the beach or enjoying a hike with friends.

The 2018 “Share a Coke” campaign sees bottles with designer stickers that brand fans can peel off and stick wherever they wish. At the back of those stickers, are codes that can be scanned to redeem and unlock rewards instantly.

Strategic takeouts: Coca-Cola’s reward strategy has taken into consideration digitally active and connected generations. Their strategy sees customers using a quick code scan for instant on-the-go redemption. They’ve used historical data to shape campaigns around experiences and memories, which we know is a powerful brand mechanism.

Key takeaways

So what do we take away from each of these brands’ reward strategies? The innovation and creativity driving these strategies, which are entirely reflective of today’s digital landscape.

Each of these brands is taking the leap towards the active pursuit of personalisation to deepen the relationships their customers enjoy with their brand.

That’s not all…

Each brand has had to consider where they’ve come from; they’ve needed to assess and redesign their rewards strategies to be more inclusive and experientially dynamic.

These are our best-loved rewards. And the brands behind them are creatively original and innovative – that’s what sets them apart and puts them on our radar.

What are you doing to ensure your rewards strategy is one that harnesses creativity, tech and data? We’d be interested to know.


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