Touted as the new-age marketing tool for modern organised retail, loyalty programs are fast-becoming a retailer’s ruse for befriending more and more customers. Neeraj Kapoor, CMO, i-Mint, India’s largest multi-partner customer rewards program speaks about the various marketing and brand communication activities within i-mint.
Jasmeet Sahi (JS): There is a lot of talk about customer loyalty and customer delight. How does a portal like i-mint cater to this growing trend?
Neeraj Kapoor (NK): Consumer loyalty has been an old term in the marketing parlance but lately it’s getting redefined with the new age technology and statistical tools that deliver the insights that were earlier thought impossible.
i-mint is a multi brand consumer rewards loyalty program that enhances the value of the brand offering for an i-mint member thereby bringing in consistency in purchase patterns from the customer ( read, loyalty) and consequently increasing profitability of the brand.
The i-mint portal targets to deliver value to the members in the rewards domain with over 1,000 plus rewards products across 30 categories. Rewards can be claimed by the members from 500 points onwards right from attainable to aspirational domain. We have over one million page views by the members redeeming over six crore points per month for over 25,000 products. Each such redeeming member gets positively charged to continue to earn points while making his next set of transaction.
With i-mint, member merchants or partners are guaranteed of:
1. A reach to thousands of customers.
2. Ability to acquire greater footfalls, and
3. Acquiring relevant customers.
JS: Retailers often assume customer loyalty through reward programs for their customers. Do you really see it working?
NK: Intelligently deployed rewards programs do generate measurable customer loyalty. It’s important to set the right objectives and set the ball rolling with complete commitment and perseverance. No customer minds being rewarded for doing what he does on a day-to-day basis. And if the rewards are beneficial the retailers are assured of customer loyalty
JS: What steps can a retailer take while designing a customer loyalty program to engage the consumer’s interest, trust and loyalty?
NK: A retailer needs to assess his objective of running a customer loyalty program. He could have any of the three broad objectives, namely:
1. Acquisition of new customers,
2. Retention of existing customers or
3. Increasing the share of wallet of the customers spending at his outlet.
Depending on the objectives, the retailer shall be required to firm up the approach and commit resources and wait for the results over the period of time. Alternatively, the brand can choose to take assistance from i-mint where in our team closely works to define the business need and there on takes on the onus to customise the loyalty program that starts to deliver measurable results in the short term itself.
JS: Many a times, the consumer is too lazy or confused with a ‘reward-points system’. What can retailers do to counter this?
NK: One of the major reasons for this is because consumers are not informed about the rewards point system or a membership card etc. Retailer can pro-actively prompt the customers to show up their loyalty card to gain points. They should also educate the customer about the reward point system and how it works. Use of effective kiosks/POP in their shops can go a long way in informing consumers of benefits they can avail of.
Retailers can prompt consumers to speak to the loyalty program call center executives to clear any doubts that they may have. They should also be informed that they can clarify their points with the call center executives too.
JS: Under what kind of an agreement/tie-up does the i-mint’s rewards program work? How does a member retailer benefit from being a member?
NK: The i-mint program works with national, regional and local brands with the same passion. The terms and conditions depend upon the type of the program.
Member retailer is benefited on the following things:
Free marketing for the merchant: i-mint communicates the merchant brand to its relevant base without a penny from merchant towards communication costs.
Minimal cost at actual conversion: Merchant pays in form of PC and LMSF only upon conversions and upon capture of i-mint card number by the merchant’s system.
OTC advantage: Select Merchant now has the benefit of selling their products and services against i-mint points on a real time basis. This encourages the customers to not pay cash but using points, they end up increasing their purchases.
Increase in brand visibility of the merchant: i-mint showcases, Merchant’s brand visibility across to a higher number of HNI and mass HNI audience.
Higher footfall: On ground merchant tends to get a higher footfall if he is in the right product segment due to i-mint’s branding at his outlet.
Repeat purchase patterns i.e. loyalty: the customer tends to visit the same merchant on repeated basis and hence builds loyalty towards the merchant, leading to sustained business and higher revenue.
JS: Lastly, how does i-mint innovate to keep alive consumer interest in the rewards program? Any new strategies?
NK: i-mint is constantly innovating to ensure that the interest of the customer is not only retained but actually grows from the present levels to become a part of her/his daily life.
We have completely revamped our website experience over the last three months and now the member can reach out to his desired point anywhere in the site in just about 3-4 clicks. Also we realised that our members desire to have multiple products but do not have points to redeem them for all. Hence, we have recently launched an e-commerce portal where the members get products at competitive prices and also get bonus i-mint points on it. Additionally, we have extended a merchant search option for our members where in any one can look for a category of merchant in particular area or get a complete list just by a simple SMS.