Audio Transcript

Speaker 0 (0s):

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.

Hello and welcome to episode 1 3 4 of Let’s Talk Loyalty.

As president of one of the world’s largest cashback programs,  called Rakuten Rewards, Kristin Gall is the self-confessed retail geek who leads this 15 million member program across north America.

Previously known as Ebates, Rakuten Rewards business model is based on the power of affiliate marketing to drive customers, to brands and stores across popular online categories like fashion and beauty.

And in recent years has even extended to offline stores, restaurants, and other direct to consumer purchase behaviors that have been increasingly adopted over the 20 years. This business has been operating Rakuten rewards is truly now a giant in the world of e-commerce with a simple business model of asking online shoppers to start their purchase journey on the Rakuten website, which then connects them with over three and a half thousand stores. If they do Rakuten rewards, earns commission for every purchase that’s made on those merchant partner websites, and then it shares half of it directly back with those members to date, they have paid back nearly an incredible $2 billion to members. What a superb way to drive customer loyalty, which Kristen described as giving out money for a living like any great loyalty proposition. It’s a win for the consumer, a win for the merchant, and also a win for the platform that connects these customers to these merchants day in and day out. Kristen talked me through the power of the Ebates business from its humble beginnings in Silicon valley in the first technology boom, through to a business that is still seeing double digit growth every year through a number of recessions, the pandemic, and even the acquisition and rebrand in 2014 by the Japanese company, racketing officially known in the west as the Amazon of Japan who bought the business as a way to expand its global reach another great marketing strategy that Kristen shared is some of the incredible sponsorship assets that Rakuten has partnered around the world. FC Barcelona, live nation, the company that operate Ticketmaster and arena services, the NBA and the golden state warriors basketball team in San Francisco, as well as working with American express to allow members to convert their cash back to membership rewards, whether it’s building brand awareness, brand love or brand loyalty, it was clear that everything Rakuten rewards does comes from what Kristen calls a maniacal focus on customers truly obsessing about what customers buy and why they buy, which of course is empowered by the purchase data that Rakuten rewards has access to a gross is 3,500 merchant partnerships and all of this supported by a commitment to always being generous with customers so that they simply keep coming back. Our final topic was of course, to understand the massive shifts in consumer behavior as the pandemic continued no longer, of course, interested by fashion and beauty to the same extent spending shifted firstly, to marketplaces like Amazon for home essentials. And then of course, to taking care of our homes, buying furniture, to build our home offices and finding ways to feed and educate our children and also our pets in ways we hadn’t had to figure out before. It’s a super inspiring story of the power of loyalty points, partnerships, a great brand, this incredible maniacal focus on customers that has enabled Rakuten rewards to grow its brand recognition from just 7% when Ebates was acquired to 65% at the time we recorded in May, 2020. Absolutely. Fantastic. So if you’d like to enjoy even more of these extraordinary insights and the power of affiliate marketing Speaker 0 (5m 11s): And cashback as a model to drive customer loyalty, you can listen to the full interview. It’s episode 36 on let’s talk loyalty.com. This show is sponsored by the wise market here. The world’s most popular source of loyalty marketing news insights and research. The wise marketeer also offers loyalty marketing training through its loyalty academy, which has already certified over 170 executives in 20 countries as certified loyalty marketing professionals. For more information, check out the wise market tier.com and loyalty academy.org. Thanks so much for listening to this episode of let’s talk loyalty. If you’d like me to send you the latest show each week, simply sign up for the show newsletter on let’s talk loyalty.com and I’ll send you the latest episode to your inbox every Thursday, or just head to your favorite podcast platform. Find let’s talk loyalty and subscribe. Of course I’d love your feedback and reviews. And thanks again for supporting