#319: Arsenal Football Club's Loyalty Program (Short Summary Show)

Arsenal is one of the most successful football clubs in English football history, and in 2021, it became the first UK Premier League team to create a loyalty programme, designed to build the connection between the Club and its fans between games.

Listen to hear our short summary of our fascinating 2021 interview with Arsenal’s Senior Loyalty Manager, Karen Dumbrell, who manages the  “My Arsenal Rewards” program, which was already delivering exciting benefits for fans as well as commercial and operational benefits for the Club.

Listen to hear some insights on the power of building a loyalty programme that truly puts its fans at its heart.

Show Notes:

1) Karen Dumbrell Senior Loyalty Manager at Arsenal FC

2) Arsenal Football Club 

3) My Arsenal Rewards

4) #159: Sports Loyalty – Innovation with UK Premier League Football Club Launch of “My Arsenal Rewards”

5) Feedback Link

Audio Transcript

Welcome to Let’s Talk Loyalty, an Industry podcast for loyalty marketing professionals. I’m your host, Paula Thomas, and if you work in loyalty marketing, join me every week to learn the latest ideas from loyalty specialists around the world.

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Hello and welcome to this week’s short episode of Let’s Talk Loyalty. I’m your host, Paula Thomas, and today I’m interviewing my episode with Karen Dumbrell, The Senior Loyalty Manager at Arsenal Football Club. We met in November, 2021 to discuss the launch of her program called My Arsenal Rewards.

Arsenal is actually the first primarily club to launch a structured loyalty program, and at the time we met, it was just three months old, as you can imagine. My first curiosity was wondering why did Arsenal want to invest in a structured loyalty program? We all already know that football is something that billions of people all over the world are intensely passionate about and clearly clubs like Arsenal already enjoy incredible loyalty from their fans.

The insight is that Arsenal really believe there’s a hugely important opportunity to harness the passion and loyalty from their fans between the team’s match days, which is typically when most fans otherwise engage. Arsenal’s vision is to dramatically increase that engagement beyond the match days based on the insights that of course, fans want more ways to engage with their team.

So I loved that My Arsenal Rewards is a program built for fans focused on helping them fuel their passion rather than a program with a specific direct commercial objective. However, it’s also extremely clever because it does focus on key behaviors that the club wants to incentivize with its fans. For example, they want to fill the stadium equally on a rainy, windy Tuesday night as it does on big match final days.

So finding ways for tickets to be used to make sure they have the optimum atmosphere for both the fans and the team, anytime there’s a game being played. Karen also shared some incredible insights using My Arsenal rewards to incentivize fans to arrive much earlier to the stadium, reducing the operational pressure in the last few minutes before a big kickoff.

And to me, this is still one of my favorite ideas that I’ve heard on the show. Proving the power of a loyalty program to benefit brands and fans in equal measure and in truly innovative ways for My Arsenal Rewards fans also earn points by attending games, buying tickets, and engaging digitally with the program.

Then they can redeem their points for merchandise and enterprise draws for exclusive experiences with the team, or maybe on the pitch. Karen shared that Arsenal, of course, wants to expand the program to include women’s football and also of course, to increase the global reach of the program outside of the UK.

This episode is truly one of my favorites, as it’s one of the first to identify the need and importance in of investing in a structured loyalty program, even in a sports category where fans already love the team. But this devotion can’t be taken for granted. And a program like My Arsenal Rewards is truly proving the power of building the connection between the fans and their clubs between games.

So please do listen to the full episode. It’s available on letstalkloyalty.com/159. That’s it for today’s short episode of Let’s Talk Loyalty. Please do tune in tomorrow when I’m talking with Kevin Crowe from Give A Mile.org. This is a charity dedicated to providing free flights for people who need to fly to be with the loved one at the very end of their life.

Truly very moving and particularly relevant at this time of year. Finally on Thursday, we’re doing something slightly different and interviewing a loyal customer rather than a loyalty professional. And I think you’ll agree this customer’s loyalty is beyond anything any of us would expect in terms of her total dedication to Emirates as an airline, to the extent that she has created her own brand called the Skywardsfreak.

That’s it for this year of Let’s Talk Loyalty, and this is our last short show of the year. Thank you all for listening, and I can’t wait to be back in 2023.

This show was sponsored by The Wise Marketer, the world’s most popular source of loyalty marketing news, Insights and research. The Wise Marketer also offers loyalty marketing training through its loyalty Academy, which has already certified over 500 executives in 38 countries as certified loyalty marketing professionals.

For more information, check out thewisemarketer.com and loyaltyacademy.org.

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