Top Customer Loyalty and Engagement Trends for 2022

Top Customer Loyalty and Engagement Trends for 2022

Even as we near the three-year mark, the pandemic continues to impact the lives of many, includind individuals and businesses. That being said, despite all of the uncertainty surrounding the epidemic, we are getting closer to ‘normality’.

Companies have restructured their relationships with customers as they adapt to changing market expectations and meet newer consumer needs. It is expected that brands will continue to thrive through agility and deep one-on-one relationships with customers.

Brands and agencies will continue to respond to the continuing disruption caused by the pandemic in the year ahead. We predict that loyalty will be an effective tool to achieve positive business outcomes in 2022.

Here are some of the top customer loyalty and engagement trends we predict for 2022 and beyond:

Trend #1: Subscriptions

Next year will be a landmark year for loyalty. While COVID-19 variants may continue to pose challenges, more people worldwide have access to full vaccines, and the pandemic will not stop business as it is now.

To make up for lost revenue and cost-extension costs incurred by the pandemic, subscriptions will be an option for brands in 2022. Members will be able to monetise certain services or products, adding value and generating new revenue streams for brands.

Subscription plans ensure that members continue to receive value even if they are less active (e.g., status extensions, inflight meals and movie theatre popcorn) and generate new revenue streams for the brands.

Subscriptions can generate additional revenue for brands, offset any decreases in traditional revenue streams.

Trend #2: Maintaining Post-Pandemic Standards

Companies began to offer perks and services to consumers to help them navigate the challenges posed by the pandemic.

For flight tickets, airlines waived any change fees or redeposit fees. Hotel guests were offered perks like COVID-19 testing on-site, enhanced cleaning protocols, and processes that minimise waiting in the lobby.

Retailers offered benefits such as curb-side pickup or BOPIS (buy in-store pickup). Loyalty programs were extended to various member levels, while expiration date of points and miles was halted. They also communicated with customers with clarity and honesty, keeping them up-to-date on how they were dealing with current crisis situations.

As we recover from the pandemic, consumers still desire these benefits. These practices have changed the customer experience for the better and have become a standard feature that customers are used to.

Because of the shift in consumer expectations, it is not possible to return to pre-pandemic standards.

While brands may not find it feasible to keep all new services indefinitely, those who can successfully shift to meet these new expectations – keeping the services and perks that are most important to their members – will be best positioned to build emotional loyalty with members and cultivate true brand advocates.

Trend #3: Zero-Party Data

Zero-party data (ZPD), which is the data that consumers have shared with a brand in good faith, will continue to be used to fill an important gap as third-party cookies are set to disappear during the course of 2022.

ZPD is an important one-on-one marketing tool, and it will become a valuable complement to additional customer data, especially for existing customers. Loyalty programs will be the main source of first-party and ZPD data.

ZPD is a great tool in and of itself. It is forward-looking and provides information about customers' intentions and purchase timings. ZPD also supports personalization through point-in-time preferences and engagement.

ZPD can be combined with other data to make it even more powerful, partly because customers may state things contrary to their behaviour. This inconsistency doesn't necessarily mean that there is a problem – people have the right to change their minds or intentions.

Actual behaviour can be a great way to check what your customers say or want. You'll be able to make a powerful tool out of ZPDs that show consistent intentions and preferences with first-party data or data derived from predictive models (such as Machine Learning and AI).

Trend #4: Brand Transparency

Although 2021 was a year of recovery, with many industries experiencing year-over-year (YOY) growth in most sectors, it will also be remembered as the year that saw the greatest number of job losses.

The pandemic's effects are long-lasting and will continue to affect the world in 2022. People are looking for brands and employers that fit their values and lifestyles, and they expect the relationship to be reciprocal, or they will move on.

As with our relationships with friends and family, authenticity does not necessarily mean that you are perfect or never make mistakes.

Customers value transparency and compassionate employers who are quick to acknowledge and correct mistakes, while showing appreciation for employee time and effort.

Trend prediction #5: Non-Fungible Tokens

While non-fungible tokens (NFTs) have been around for ten years, their popularity has exploded in the last two years.

Loyalty programs will use these offerings in many ways, including gamifying engagement and new, experiential redemption options.

A frequent guest in a hotel could be rewarded with a digital NFT that is unique to them. Or a member can redeem points or miles for digital art.

NFTs are increasingly being used by brands to engage with tech-savvy customers and interact with global audiences. NFTs will become more mainstream in loyalty programmes as this currency continues to infiltrate the market economy.

Looking to increase customer loyalty and improve engagement? Contact EWM today to discover how we can support your business in unparalleled ways. 




Call us