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 for loyalty specialists around the world. This episode is brought to you by Epsilon and their award-winning people. Cloud loyalty solution personalization should be integrated into the entire customer experience, including your loyalty program. With this in mind, Epsilon recently released a guide outlining six key components that will put you on the path to personalizing the entire loyalty experience. This guide challenges you to do some housekeeping and reconsider how you think about your current and future loyalty personalization efforts.
1m 3s
1

So to download your copy of the report, visit epsilon.com forward slash let’s talk loyalty. Hello, and welcome to episode 153 of let’s talk loyalty. Today’s guest is a leading loyalty personality in New Zealand. Having built some fabulous loyalty propositions in his career today, which includes air New Zealand, Quantis, and now in the grocery retail sector for countdown, which is a market leader in New Zealand. And part of the Woolworths group, Phil Devlin is head of strategic partnerships for countdown, and he shared with me the simple value proposition that the counter program offers to its customers in New Zealand, as well as the power of some of the partnerships with the likes of AA smart fuel, who were also recently guests on the show.
2m 0s
1

So I hope you enjoy this conversation with Phil Devlin from countdown, New Zealand. So Phil, I am so happy that you’re joining me today from New Zealand. How are you doing today?
2m 14s
2

I really well, thanks, Paula.
2m 16s
1

Yeah, yeah, I know you’re still in a lockdown. So just wanted to, first of all, acknowledge that it’s still a pretty tough time with the COVID situation.
2m 25s
2

Yeah, it is. And, and particularly my sympathy goes out to other working parents as well. I’m trying to do your day job and, and educating three children under 10 as,
2m 36s
1

Oh my goodness. Okay. Well there, they will love you all the more for it. I have no doubt Phil, so listen, let’s get straight into it. And I’ve been really, really excited to hear that the countdown story and your entire loyalty career, I know has some really interesting case studies that we’re going to talk through. So as usual, let’s just kick off with your favorite loyalty statistic and then take it from there.
3m 0s
2

Cool. Thanks. Well, the thing that always intrigues me about loyalty in New Zealand is just the, the sheer penetration that that loyalty has into our society. So, and that’s born out by the fact that 95% of new Zealanders over the age of 16 are members of at least one loyalty program. And, and when you, when you think of the total number of new Zealanders coming in at just a fraction over 5 million, we’ve got a minimum three and a quarter million engaged in loyalty programs. And it’s just a, a tremendous example of how, of how loyalty impacts all aspects of our society. Yeah,
3m 33s
1

Yeah, yeah. And I think I’m going to, to credit you guys with doing an excellent job, Phil and I also, you know, you’ve prompted me to think about, I wonder what the penetration is for me in Ireland because actually Ireland and New Zealand are very similar, I think in terms of maybe size and mentality. So I’m hoping to get comparable stats from my country, but that’s amazing.
3m 55s
2

Yeah. Thanks. And we, we, we do look to Ireland a little bit in terms of that demographic population as well, and other small country punching above their weight and, and really leading the way in so many areas.
4m 8s
1

Wonderful. Thank you for that great stuff. So tell me the, the first big role that you got involved with Phil from a loyalty perspective, I know was with air New Zealand and you shared with me some of the extraordinary work that you were doing there. And so maybe just give us an introduction to that program and some of the concepts that you developed, because I actually don’t think I’ve heard or seen anything like this in, in any other markets. So, so, so maybe tell us that story.
4m 36s
2

Yeah, sure. I really enjoyed my time at, in New Zealand and it’s a tremendous business that really appeals to the hearts and minds and puts a lot of pride into new Zealanders, as well as the national carrier. I joined in 2013 after a five-year stint at the warehouse group, which is another one of our listed retailers. And, and it was at a really interesting time for your New Zealand. They were transiting from being a classic frequent flyer program into a, a loyalty and data driven program. And what came with that was a really significant piece of market analysis to articulate where household spend was occurring in New Zealand and how that would translate into potential loyalty opportunities.
5m 20s
2

And we, we looked at, at households across the country and analyze the percentage of spent that was going into categories that weren’t penetrated by loyalty and then look to bring a loyalty proposition into those areas. And, and we, we went into luxury cars with Audi. We went into real estate with Bailey’s, which was one of our national real estate providers as well. So let’s do how swift Bailey’s and in, in New Zealand data points pitch us a new Audi in, in New Zealand ear points and, and really grew the program quite significantly through that business development activity over a period of years. So just a really exciting time to be with the business, met some tremendous people, great leaders, visionaries, and yeah.
6m 6s
2

Worked for some courageous executives that, that backed the team and believed in the loyalty proposition. And, and specifically for, for in New Zealand that the program is a little bit different to other aviation programs and that you in dollars, as opposed to miles, you, you earn them by, by, by flying with the New Zealand, but they, they represent us dollars. And that gives you a really transparent mechanism for redemption as well. So, yeah, fabulous program, a lot of really, really fantastic people.
6m 36s
1

Wow. And, and the particular piece, I suppose, that I was excited to hear was the real estate piece. And it’s almost like, I’m not sure why other markets, or maybe I’m just not aware of it, Phil, but if I understand you correctly, so it’s the seller, as you said, the listing with a real estate agency. So, so that’s the funding model there, but is it your experience that this is something that’s being executed in other markets? Or, or is this something that you think actually was quite new to do, you know, in, in the New Zealand market,
7m 8s
2

It was certainly the first offering of its kind in the New Zealand market. I’m not aware that there’s too many other markets that are doing it, but w we have a unique kind of set up in New Zealand where the Kiwi dream has always been to own your own property. So there’s a lot of, if it goes in at a societal level to, to house ownership and we have some of the most expensive real estate prices in the world relative to income. And, and so therefore the market’s very concentrated and real estate companies are looking constantly for points of differentiation. And that’s a, the, the, the idea of linking up with two national brands in New Zealand data points and Baileys to, to offer up points on, on sales really helped to differentiate them in terms of their own competitors.
7m 59s
1

Yeah, of course, absolutely. And did they get it straight away fail? I’m guessing they did because of the strength of the air New Zealand brand, but as you said, it was a pretty innovative concept at the time.
8m 10s
2

Yeah. It was picked up pretty well, straight away. And, and it is down in part to the reach of the New Zealand brand and also the reach of the Bailey’s brand as well. They are acknowledged market leader here in New Zealand and the, the concept is really simple. And yet the idea of getting your points dollars for, for doing that is, was an easy thing to articulate in campaigns as well. Yeah,
8m 33s
1

Yeah, absolutely. Well, there’s the immediate customer understanding, which I always think as loyalty professionals, we can easily over-complicate things because we’re trying to cover all four of our business rules and all of our, you know, legal stuff and whatever else. So, but, but even actually, I know you mentioned you even went as far, you mentioned Audi, which again is another brand. I’m a huge fan of, and I’m sure they loved the proposition. And even as far as insurance and white goods, so a very comprehensive home-based I guess, lifestyle approach to the program.
9m 7s
2

Yeah. We used to talk internally about the points house and, and having a lot of your, I guess, typical interactions earning Airpoints and treating that as a, as a very smart decision. And, and that’s, that’s taking the view that if you’re, if you’re buying a car and you’re choosing between an Audi or BMW or a Mercedes, they’re all good options, what’s the, what’s the differentiator apart from the brand. And, and yeah, the, the, the addition of your points to that and the, the demographic of the base, as well as an attractive fit. And I think too, attaching your points to regular households, being categories, particularly with engaged customers drives a lot of retention and stickiness.
9m 50s
2

So there’s a great two way story. It drives loyalty to the appoints product, which, which ultimately translates to revenue bookings on, on air New Zealand flights, but it also helps businesses solve particular problems of their own. So if it’s retention being able to talk to the points as a, as a loyalty currency, certainly helps with it. It’s an attractive acquisition currency. It’s also demonstrated great stickiness as well. So once you’re in, once you’re paying with a credit card, once you’re double-dipping on, on each end of the transaction, that becomes a really compelling proposition. And, you know, this is the, you know, was the dominant carrier and still is the dominant carrier in New Zealand, you know, and, and firmly in the hearts and minds of new Zealanders.
10m 34s
2

Yeah.
10m 35s
1

Yeah. And I always love double dipping. So again, with my, you know, points junkie hat on my goodness, you know, and particularly with big product spans and big, you know, lifetime investments, like you’re talking about there to be able to get the credit card size side of it, as well as, you know, as you said, the, the car brand and my God I’d say that was incredibly powerful on a commercial level, was it?
10m 57s
2

Yeah, it was. And it, it really helped the program, I guess, to judge their growth aspirations. And then it went from being a program where you learn through flying to a program where you could really earn on the ground and, and in between flying. And it then became really powerful because it just provided a source of free cash flow to the airline. It, it drove loyalty even when you weren’t at the point of purchase, because if you’re, you know, filling up your car, paying on any points, credit card, earning on both sides of the transaction, you are displaying loyalty to the, to the program and the scheme and, and that loyalty is effectively a guarantee of future revenue, because once your points start to accumulate, you get into that wonderful position of being able to, to dream about how you’re going to use them.
11m 41s
2

And if that’s as simple as a flight down country to see family or, or an upgrade on a, on an international flight, it’s, it, it kinda, it gives that kind of uniqueness of your own experience as well. Plus, you know, the ability to pull at a family level as well, really exciting as well when you’ve got a big family like me.
12m 3s
1

Yeah. Of course fell. Yeah. And, and I do think there’s so many, you know, particularly airline loyalty programs that are doing a great job of building their lifestyle propositions, but seem to be focused more on the, let’s say day to day span. So the, you know, whether it’s the grocery retailer or the fashion retailer. And so I think you just took her to an extra level there. So definitely a fascinating case study and hopefully one that I’m sure you’re super proud of. And I guess what’s, what’s in my mind now, Phil is how on earth were you tempted away from that role? Because certainly for me with my airline background, it’s a really exciting sector and definitely where you get the power clearly to, to create propositions and to be truly innovative.
12m 47s
1

So, so what tempted you away from that? From your time with air New Zealand?
12m 52s
2

It was probably a role in high-performance sport. So I got, I got the opportunity to go and apply a lot of what I’d learned in corporate life to the success of New Zealand on the international stage at, at an Olympic level. And that was something that was always really attractive to me. And I enjoyed that opportunity over the time that I was there in terms of commercializing some of the activities of the New Zealand Olympic committee as well. But they say that aviation gets into your blood a little bit. And it certainly, it certainly got into mind to a degree because I think in a lot of the loyalty businesses I’ve worked at the cutting-edge stuff has typically originated out of aviation programs.
13m 34s
2

And that holds true in New Zealand with in New Zealand, ear points and Qantas frequent flyer over in Australia as well. And, and those, those guys have typically been the first ones to harness the power of the data to, to really focus in on the customer experience. And then you see other industries start to narrow in on that and see that opportunity and start to apply it to different categories like retail. For example, I’m seeing it a lot in financial services. I think there’s a big emerging opportunity and in mid tech as well. So there’s a, there’s a bunch of stuff that I think can have loyalty applied to it, but the, the, the Vanguard has always been the aviation programs out front.
14m 14s
1

Absolutely. So MedTech is definitely one that, you know, caught my attention there, but yeah, just the, the New Zealand Olympic committee stuff. That sounds absolutely fascinating. I think I mentioned to you all fair. I have some, again, just personal and friends involved with the, the Irish Olympic committee. So I’ve already committed myself. I don’t about you, Phil, but I’m determined to get to Paris when the Olympics come around. Cause I feel like we totally missed out obviously this year. I’m not sure if I could have afforded to go to Tokyo, but hopefully get there at some point.
14m 45s
2

Yeah. Certainly nothing fires up your heart, like seeing your country do well on the national stage. And there’s nothing like the Olympics to kind of be that outward demonstration of, of pride in your, and your country and, and, and yeah, I guess the pinnacle of an athletic achievement and yeah, selfishly speaking, I would love to, I’d love to get to Paris as well. That would be, yeah, it would be tremendous.
15m 8s
1

Excellent. Excellent. So tell us, then I know you did a stand also with Quantis and heading up at new Zealand’s frequent flyer business it’s country manager. So tell us about your time with, with Quantas.
15m 22s
2

Yeah. Another great experience with a really tremendous company and Quantas. So I came on board as part of a Quantas strategy that, that re really focused on New Zealand. So three things happened, they, they set up a, a loyalty business in New Zealand, which I was privileged to lead. They introduced competition on the transpacific route out of Oakland to Los Angeles in a JV with American airlines. So, so they bought a lot of focus on today and it had a, a downstream benefit for customers in terms of prices. And then lastly, they started flying the low-cost sprained Jetstar on domestic routes and New Zealand as well.
16m 6s
2

So it had flown the main trunk for a number of years, but it started to add a number of our regional centers, Napier, new Plymouth, Palmerston, north and Nelson. So the, the, the, I guess the triangulation of those three strategy pieces was really exciting to, to be part of that business in New Zealand as well, and very different. I would, I would say to air New Zealand. So the, the two brands have a, a kind of a, a healthy respect, but almost a frenemy kind of relationship. Yeah, yeah. I was sitting in the, in the Quantas office and in New Zealand and, and seeing the all blacks get ready to play the wallabies who had Quantas and plays and on their chests.
16m 50s
2

So that was always an interesting dilemma, but yeah, but a real, an absolute hotbed of, of loyalty, knowledge and experience. And I learned a lot in terms of how they operate the scale and, and intellectual property that they’ve bought aviation programs globally and, and just a very big but extremely well-run business.
17m 21s
1

Yeah. And actually when I think backfill and when, you know, my loyalty background and certainly all of my listeners do as well at this stage, but I suppose when I went from, you know, running one loyalty program in Ireland, in a telco business to really appreciating and the profitability or the power of, of, you know, potential profits was actually a story, a hared about Quantas and in Australia. And it was with loyalty magazine in fact, to run, you know, or used to run, certainly lots of conferences. And I remember there, the, the, the lady on each McIntosh who runs that event talking about quantity, frequent flyer revenue, which I remember she said was exceeding the international revenue for the airline.
18m 5s
1

And I nearly fell off my seat bill. So I’m sure it’s certainly not news to you with, with your incredible background, but I still think there’s a lot of loyalty professionals don’t realize particularly maybe the Australian market just has it nailed better than anybody else, but it’s extraordinary how much money flows through the airline loyalty programs.
18m 24s
2

Yeah, it’s incredible. When I think that COVID is probably brought that into even sharp, a focus. So with jets being grounded and, and flying, being at a, a minimum compared to what a typical Shuja would be, the, the ability for the airlines to, to earn revenue through insulary activities, like the loyalty programs is become more and more critical to their, to their ongoing profitability.
18m 49s
1

Fabulous, fabulous. So now you’re in a completely different space with countdown, which I know is a fantastic grocery brands across New Zealand. I think you told me 190 stores nationwide. So super excited to hear all about that program. And I know you hear it as well, by the way, we already had our first Kiwi loyalty program story with, with your friends in AA smart fuel recently. So do you guys all work super closely together?
19m 19s
2

Yeah, we do. And I particularly enjoyed that episode with, with Ian and Jordan as well. And we, we work really closely with them. So countdown for context, as part of Woolworth’s group, the biggest single supermarket brand in New Zealand as had a, a really strong performing business in the loyalty space called OneCard for many years, over 20 years now. And for the last five and a half years, there has been partnered with AI smart field of business that the Dean co-founded and, and the, the two brands coming together enabled AI smart fuel customers to earn at countdown as well, and also enabled countdown customers to earn AA smart fuel cents per liter discounts as well.
20m 9s
2

And that’s important in New Zealand because our average salary is, are low compared to many other countries in the world. And our price of fuel is very high, and we have a, a population that’s still quite wedded to driving their cars everywhere. So anything you can do at a, at a household level to reduce the cost of a tank of gas as, as something that keyboards really seize on and that the success of the smart field businesses, proof positive of that, and, and, and that partnership has, has I believe delivered real value for, but
20m 41s
1

Wonderful, wonderful, and just very impressive as well, to hear that one card itself is around for more 20 years. So maybe tell us a bit about the proposition and exactly, you know, how you work. And I think particularly, I suppose, Phil, what I’m always interested in, because I’ve never worked in grocery loyalty is perhaps, you know, how it works of course, for consumers, but also with maybe suppliers, you know? So whether some of the manufacturing brands get involved in the program and how it all then comes together for the consumer.
21m 15s
2

Yeah, sure. So the one card programs is really simple, and I think as you move further down, the development of loyalty programs, simplicity becomes key. And we’ve, we’ve looked at that at a, at a program level for some time. So how it works is for every dollar you spend in store, you earn one point. So it’s all nice and clear and transparent. When you reach 2000 points, you get a, an automatic Eve Archer, and it’s served up to you through the point of sale. So you’ll be scanning your groceries, and it’ll say, you’ve got a $15 voucher. Would you like to use it today or save it for another day? So it’s always a nice surprise, a bit of a surprise and delight.
21m 56s
2

And along with that, we’ve got our one OneCard specials as well. So typically we have a number of items on sale each week that, that attract double points or two for one. And the, the specials that are unlocked by swiping your, your one card through the point of sale. And, and it drives, I guess, a little bit of the instant gratification as you’re, as you’re trending your way up to, to the rewards event as well. And inherit works, particularly with regard to AI smart fuel is that at the start of the program, you, you are leaked to earn either the one card currency, one card points or cents per liter discounts and the AI smart fuel program, and then your, your comms and your journey a very much customized down that pathway.
22m 44s
2

And, and more recently, and, and to address your other question advances in our technology stack and, and our desire to bring more value to customers has seen us start to move into boosts and boosts, or kind of what they say, an opportunity for you to boost your points balance, or boost your CPL balance. And, and they can be a mix of either supplier funded. So by two bottles of Coca-Cola hypothetically, and get a bonus CPO or bonus one cup points, or they can be derived from our own data set as well. So in the case of me, for example, it might notice that I have a predilection for a certain type of beer, and it can give me a, an offer to try a new beer within that category, or, or try a different, a different, but similar category as well.
23m 33s
2

So that’s, that’s a really powerful tool and it’s bringing our dataset to life in a way that’s really focused in on the customer. And it’s also focused in, at a, at a, a really efficient level as well, because you only pay for that discount when you’ve got customer engagement. And, and that gives you the, I guess, the information that the offer is right, and it’s attractive. And then if it’s, if it’s not right and it’s not attractive, and it’s not taken up by the consumer, there’s no cost to the business for putting that.
24m 3s
1

Oh, wonderful. Yeah, performance-based marketing, it’s, it’s a fabulous term and a fabulous concept. And, and it, can I ask how the suppliers generally react? Because again, I’m trying to get a sense of the level of sophistication, because I do have this feeling that in grocery, there’s a lot more expertise that, that, again, I haven’t had visibility of, or, or just experience working with. So I’m really keen to hear, you know, how, how aware, like, are they coming to you to access the, the, the loyal base of customers or does it tend to be coming maybe from a countdown perspective to, to build the education around it?
24m 41s
2

Yeah, it’s probably a mixture of the two there’s certain brands and certain manufacturers that definitely come to us because they’ve either participated in the OneCloud program previously with club prices and they’ve seen the value and the impact that can have for their business. And then there’s, there’s opportunities where we’re countdown, we’ll engage with, with supply partners to, to present certain opportunities as well, which they can choose to take up. And it’s, yeah, it’s a, it’s a, it’s a kind of very collaborative approach. It’s not, it’s not driven massively either way. It’s, it’s probably a balancing act of the two. And, and because it’s really important to the business that we, we make the right offer at the right time for the right person.
25m 22s
2

And what’s, what’s right for, you might not be right for me and the old approach of spray and pray as something that we’re trying to do away with and be a lot more targeted, but, but really, really address that balance between knowing you and showing you value and crossing the line and to, and to potentially, you know, showing you too much or, or, or making the wrong offers.
25m 49s
1

Yeah, no, you’re right. I think as, as a community of marketeers and certainly loyalty marketeers, I do think we have the M very clear understanding that we want to be treated with respect ourselves as individuals. And definitely, I think that’s translated into how we run our loyalty programs. Thank God. Whereas actually I heard a shocking story the other day, which is, you know, again, just more around, you know, how cookies do track our behavior sometimes in ways that makes us a little uncomfortable or sometimes very uncomfortable. So I do think as, you know, loyalty data owners, I think we have just that mindset of, you know, respecting the data and using it in a, in a much more powerful way.
26m 29s
2

Yeah. I couldn’t agree more. I think that firstly compliances are, are licensed to, to operate and we take that really seriously. And secondly, we were custodians of some great brands and we want those brands to be stating the right things. And, you know, it’s, it’s a nightmare to think that lack of attention to detail could see a great company on the front page of the newspaper for the wrong reasons. And we don’t w we don’t want that. We, we, we absolutely wanna yeah. Want to comply with the rules and do things the right way.
27m 3s
1

Absolutely. Yeah. And again, what I always love about the CPG sector or any manufacturing brand is their understanding of what consumers do want, you know, so their own kind of brand integrity does always come through and everything they execute. And I think what I particularly like what you said there, Phil, is that they’re coming back to you, you know, having seen success with campaigns in the past, because again, like I’ve worked in the media business and not every form of media works. So when you have an advertiser or, you know, somebody coming to sponsor support a campaign with you, it’s just a vote of confidence. I think that you’re doing good work around.
27m 41s
2

That’s also something that I think really supports the increased visibility and transparency that business wants today. So if you’re, if you’re making the investment, you want to know that their investments translated to the outcome you’re trying to solve for. And if that’s, I’m selling more bags of potato crisps, great, because we can actually use our data set to track that we know how many people we’ve got, we know how many people buy potato chips. We know how many people have opted into receive offers about potato chips. So we can, we can present a really compelling audience to a third party like that. And, you know, provided, we, we take the appropriate customer consents, which is back to that license to, to proceed. We, yeah. And, and I think that gives you great measurability as well, versus taking out a, an ad on the, the middle pages of the newspaper or a 32nd TVC can often be a bit tough.
28m 34s
1

I’ve often said, like, I don’t know how I would sleep at night if I was trying to make those decisions, because the attribution and the, you know, the measurability is just too hard for me, you know, clearly it has an incredible role to play, but yeah, we, we definitely share that love of seeing what comes through and again, on the back of a strong, respectful relationship, I just think is, is probably why we all love working in the loyalty business.
28m 59s
2

Yeah. And I think the variety, yeah. It just reflect often that there’s very few industries that expose you to multiple other industries and, and loyalty is that you can be talking to a telco in the morning, a insurer in the afternoon and a vehicle manufacturer in the evening. And, and it’s it that variety keeps you interested at, at broadens your own business acumen. It builds out your network and it’s, yeah, it’s just a really interesting topic. And everybody has a story or a question or anything like that that they often want to ask about loyalty. So it does engage people a lot,
29m 36s
1

For sure, for sure. And just on a very, I suppose, practical detail, Phil and I was doing a couple of shows recently, just looking at the form of identification and I’m sure, you know, countdown has various different options. I’m sure there’s a physical and a digital option for the one card, but the reason I just want to ask about it because it, you know, it’s normally not something that would even be a question in my mind, but certainly research coming out of both Australia and South Africa have shown just in the last couple of years that the actual physical card seems to be having a resurgence of popularity, which in a time where I thought we were all going digital, I thought we were all going contactless.
30m 19s
1

And, you know, I’m pretty clear that my phone’s the only thing I’m always going to have with me. What’s your experience with countdown in terms of how customers want to identify themselves?
30m 29s
2

Yeah, it’s, it’s a real mix of the two. So we’ve got, and within New Zealand at a demographic level, we’ve got quite an aging population. So we’ve got a cohort of, I guess, baby boomers that are, that are reaching retirement age. And they, they strongly identify with scanning the plastic card, keeping it in their wallet or purse and scanning that in the network. And there’s a, there’s a habitual kind of reassurance in doing that. And against state, we’ve got very high, mobile penetration, fantastic fiber broadband, nationwide, and a real rise in digital natives that are, that are scanning at every opportunity. And we, we have ambitions around being a digital first business, but we also recognize that as a retailer, we, when we engage the way our customers would like us to engage and, and that’s, that’s leading on digital, but, but having backup options as well, that are, that are more traditional.
31m 23s
1

Okay. Okay. So it is following the, I suppose, cliche demographic expulsion whilst we would expect. So it’s not that there is a, a younger cohort that is saying, actually we like to have the card that is following exactly what I guess we’d expect traditionally.
31m 39s
2

Yeah. It is kind of traditional. And I think that there’s been some other causal factors, like, well, COVID, for example, the heightened sensitivity around hygiene and hand washing and contactless as well. And that, that does drive a lot back through the app. So you can control how clean your hands are. You can control how clean your phone is. And if you’re in a, an environment where you’re the only one touching things, it, it, it brings a reassurance all of its own as well. So I think there’s definitely going to be thought and consideration for that moving forward as we, as we navigate this globally.
32m 10s
1

For sure. And I guess, you know, and I do feel like, you know, some countries are starting to emerge from, from the pandemic. I know, obviously there, you know, you, you guys are still am still struggling. I know a lot. So again, sending all of the best possible support and energy to get through it. Yeah. It, it’s still, you’re still in Oaktown if I’m right. How much are you at the moment?
32m 35s
2

Yes, we are. We’ve had six weeks here in New Zealand. I’m in Oakland where I now with we’re just in our second week of what we call level three. So that’s, that’s a full lockdown work from home, no school, but with takeaway coffee and Uber eats, which is great, level four, you don’t have the coffee or the Uber eats you’re, you’re literally at home the whole time. And, and, you know, new, Zealand’s had a tremendous run with, with COVID in a sense, our isolation and strong action early in 2020, insulated us for a while. But I think the, the Delta strain has just infiltrated the world. And we’re no different.
33m 15s
2

I mean, I think we were protected by the Pacific ocean, but you know, it, it, it did get back into New Zealand a while back, and it’s, it’s been a lockdown, but vaccination is the key. And we, again, look to a country like Poland, number two, one Bloomberg’s rankings now for openness and an incredible new Zealand’s dropped all the way to 38. But, but that’s cyclical. I mean, I think you guys had that with your winter. You you’ve vaccinated effectively, and now you’re opening up to the world again, and we’re, we’re coming out of winter into summer, starting to vaccinate effectively and, and God willing. We’ll, we’ll, we’ll open up as well.
33m 53s
1

Wonderful, wonderful. Well, listen, thanks for the update on that side fail. And, and I guess the reason I was thinking about that is it has, you know, obviously dominated conversation for the last 18 months and to the detriment of, you know, another, probably the most important topic in my mind, which I think loyalty is moving into. And I know you’re very passionate about, which is the whole area of sustainability. And I really think loyalty increasingly has a role to play too, I suppose, first of all, you know, incentivize behaviors that are sustainable for the planet and for, I suppose, even at a local level. So I’d love you to talk me through any insights you have in terms of how loyalty and sustainability are starting to come together.
34m 37s
1

And in some ways,
34m 40s
2

Yeah, it’s something I’m personally passionate about. And something that I think is a, is a big opportunity. So for a long time, I’ve thought that the audiences that we can reach through the loyalty, a significant and, and what we’re hearing bottom up in our research is that consumers are more and more aware of their impact on the planet, their, their own impact as a, as a personal citizen and the impact that brands and companies have and how they feel about those brands and companies, Judah, environmental, or sustainability concerns. And, and I think there’s a real role for loyalty to play there as well. And we’ve through our, our partnership with AA smart fuel, we’ve got access to, to carbon click as a, as redemption options.
35m 21s
2

So a carbon offsetting program, but I think there’s more we can do at our own level within countdown. And you see that roll out through campaigns like removing plastic from stores, but I think there’s a, there’s a real role for loyalty to in a macro level, help drive consumer advocacy towards more sustainable solutions. And it, and it can be as simple as incentivizing, low carbon options and incentivizing low plastic options with loyalty points and supervising healthy, fresh options versus highly packaged options. And it has a societal benefit as well. And one thing countdown’s very focused on as being good and green for New Zealand and that’s, you know, sustainability is right in the wheelhouse.
36m 7s
2

And, and if you extrapolate that further, when we talk as a, as a steering committee of, of companies that are engaged in loyalty, there’s the, the one thing that every company does irrespective of their industry sustainability is, is near the top of their agenda. So loyalty has a role to play, I guess, and bringing that together, harnessing all of the, the coalition effect that loyalty can deliver, but, but focusing it on something rather than just for personal gain for planetary gain, and whoever can crack that, I think we’ll, we’ll take the customer engagement to a whole new level and it’s, and it will, it will have obviously economic benefits as well. Yeah,
36m 46s
1

Yeah, no, I love that. Absolutely. Phil, and again, I’m actively, you know, inviting anybody listening who does have solutions in this space obviously to reach out because, you know, I see, you know, one of the things I can do is maybe share messages about solutions that are out there. So I’ve certainly talked with earth rewards in the past one great solution out of the UK, but again, anyone who’s looking at doing something you’re absolutely right. We need, I think we need all the help we can get filled. So I’m so amazing to hear the countdown is really focusing on that.
37m 17s
2

Yeah. And I think it’s only going to become more apparent in future years as well. I think we’re, we’re breeding a generation of people in New Zealand that, that are going to take this way more seriously than, than, than my generation. And I like to think that we took it seriously, but what what’s coming through as a, as a whole different approach and that’s super exciting.
37m 36s
1

Yeah. Yeah. And there is a lot of criticism of, of younger generations, as we know, because it may be, you just get to a point where we have to start comparing ourselves to our, our kids and our friends, kids or whatever, but you’re absolutely right. You know, that there really is an incredible level of dedication to fixing it and fixing it properly and to having more integrity around, you know, the planners and what it does for us. And again, one of the bizarre, you know, as we talked about an effect of COVID is, you know, there has been some environmental relief almost obviously it’s a huge cost to put them, probably did show people what’s possible. Yeah.
38m 15s
2

Yeah. I agree. I think pros and cons, I think amazing impacts on things like water purity, you see it walking around the foreshore of Oakland that the habit looks great because we’re not using it so much, but what you do also see as disposable masks floating in there, and that’s something that pre COVID we wouldn’t have seen at any sort of level. So it’s, you know, with the planet, you don’t want to Rob Peter to pay Paul if we’ve only got one planet. So I’m making the most of it for future generations and Estonians is hugely important. Yeah.
38m 48s
1

Yeah, for sure. And speaking also future generations, Phil, and I think, you know, my, my other favorite topic then is, is really innovation and any ideas or suggestions, or I suppose just your general thoughts on what we as loyalty professionals should be looking out for and, you know, to cut through. Because again, I think particularly airlines, I suppose, you know, we’ve done so much and what I often hear criticism that people do get a bit jaded if they just hear points coming through. So what else do you think we can do as loyalty professionals to ed to really excite our members?
39m 28s
2

I think there’s probably a couple of things in once. One’s not exciting as such, but, but I think it will be really powerful and that’s, that’s taking steps to reduce complexity and programs and really drive simplicity. W we see so much legalees and jargon attached to our industry, that it can be off putting for people that aren’t intimately involved. And, you know, I see in New Zealand at the moment, we’re looking at a parliamentary act on a plain language bill. And I think the role for loyalty is really exciting if we can, if we can, de-stigmatize the language. And de-stigmatize some of the confusion. I think you engage more people more often.
40m 9s
2

And for me, the big battle was always been to win the hearts and minds. You need to reach them first. And that engagement is really critical. And we don’t often as an industry, do ourselves any favors with, you know, buy, buy this, get that airstrikes pages and pages of T’s and C’s and all of that kind of stuff. And I think there’s, there’s definitely steps. We can take DHEA around innovation there, which is entirely unsexy, but we’ll have a great practical application. And it’s something I’d like to see New Zealand really leading the way on as well.
40m 44s
1

And I’ll just pick up on that actually feel before you move on, because my role when I was negotiating partnerships, cause I love the way you’ve explained it there. I always said, you can have one asterix as in, you can have one bot. So, you know, you can say here, you know, it’s valid, you know, six days a week. And, but after 6:00 PM, for example, like that was totally fine. As long as there was only one condition, once somebody started adding in multiple parameters, you know, we all glaze over as customers. And I think you’re absolutely right. I did a full show on simplicity as a business principle. So I really, really definitely agree with what you’re saying. So we’ve almost, and given ourselves ridiculous complexity, I think.
41m 26s
1

Yeah.
41m 29s
2

Yeah. And I think it’s probably a Rhodes trust, particularly amongst people that aren’t, aren’t involved in it as in their day to day life like you and I are. I think that the more we can keep it at a illegally compliant yet conversational level, I think that’s, that’s going to be incredible to, to de-stigmatize it for people as well because it, you know, people’s eyes glaze over very quickly these days as well. And no, one’s got time to necessarily read four or five pages of T’s and C’s in some cases even more so. Yeah, we’ve got a duty of care to, to tell people what we do in plain language and, and, and stand by it as well.
42m 6s
1

And I will just quote you as well. Actually, I do love when people come out with that, with words of wisdom filled, so to win hearts and minds, you have to reach them first. I think that’s, that’s a gorgeous concept. Okay.
42m 17s
2

Yeah. It’s engagement is I think the single most critical thing that I’ve come across in my entire loyalty career. So you can, you can have the greatest program in the world, but if it’s not engaging for customers, you haven’t got a chance. And, and I I’ve observed that our lives are getting busier in a lockdown environment with we’re so attached to our computers, mobile phones, tablets, et cetera, and we’re bombarded with messages. So to really stand out, you’ve got to engage people. And that talks to, you know, what’s the, what’s the single commodity. You can never get back and it’s time. So if you win the eyeballs of people for longer, you will ultimately win the game.
42m 59s
2

And it’s, that’s something that we’re really passionate about. And in our business, now we, you know, we’re, we’re in an industry, that’s not a unique industry. Our competitors offer similar products and do a wonderful job battleground and differentiators on earning that engagement and then translating that engagement into repetition and loyalty. And it’s the, the role that an effective loyalty program can play in that engagement has just, it’s huge.
43m 26s
1

Wonderful, wonderful. So, so any other innovations or trends Phil that you think in addition to simplicity?
43m 34s
2

Yeah. Look, I think one of the big trends that, that I’m personally really excited about is probably the emergence of, of SAS platforms and composable architecture. So historically, you know, heavy dependence on legacy systems, lots of manual workarounds. Bolt-ons trying to, I guess, you know, ring more blood out of a stone. Whereas with, with, with SAS platforms, it’s, it’s instant, it’s composable, it’s, user-friendly, it’s, refreshable at a platform level as well. It helps you reduce organizational technology gifts. And I think it really helps organizations kind of rediscover the entrepreneurial mojo.
44m 15s
2

And what I mean by that is with SAS. It’s a quick configuration that you can set up to test and learn at scale. And that’s something that’s, that’s hugely exciting. So it’s not, it’s not a huge exercise to get underneath the hood of a mess of legacy system. It’s something that you can sit up at your desk and, and then you can, you can test quickly, you can concentrate it by region. You can do all types of things that I think really, really enable businesses to, to go out and get as much data points and learning as possible rather than just kind of saying, okay, we did some market research and the, the 20 people that we talked to thought that this was a good idea.
44m 55s
2

You can actually go and prove it with data, and you can test that for a short period over a long period, run proof of concepts nationwide, et cetera. And I, I just think that that’s going to really open up a whole new world of creativity for law TD professionals. And I think it’ll really help organizations make decisions with confidence as well. Yeah.
45m 18s
1

Yeah. I think you’re absolutely right on, I’ll give a shout out to our mutual friend, Simon Rouse in, in Australia from beyond who, who introduced us to each other. And I think we’ve told certainly on this show, and again, just ourselves in conversation about, you know, the importance of people like Simon to translate tech into, you know, commercial affordable and agile solutions that certainly people like me who doesn’t speak tech can understand the power of perhaps a new SAS platform without being terrified that it’s going to be, you know, one huge decision that I have to live with for 10 years.
45m 55s
2

Yes. Spot on. And, and Simon’s the guru he’s incredibly, well-connected, he’s got a great gift at, at translating concepts into reality. It’d be perfect to oversee the plain language bill for loyalty. He, yeah. He, he speaks what the people want to hear. Yeah,
46m 13s
1

For sure. I’ll have to get him back on the show, Phil, and from what I’m hearing as well, it sounds like you’re, you’re probably busy cookie away, a couple of fabulous ideas there for countdown. So, so from my side, I’m hoping we can stay in touch and certainly as the months and years go by, we can, you know, compare notes on other kinds of ideas and innovations that we’ve launched as certainly in the New Zealand market.
46m 36s
2

Yeah, absolutely. And I think, yeah, that would be wonderful. And I think new, Zealand’s got some great other potential areas too. Like I think w we like to think of ourselves as the, the Tasman sea as a, as a ditch. So when we talk about crossing the ditch, that’s going to Australia. And I think that when you, when you look at, look at loyalty in our part of the world, I don’t think anybody’s got a truly Australasian interoperable program yet. And it’s something like assess could, could really stand that up. And, and it’s, yeah, that’s tremendously exciting to think that that’s something that could, could happen in our lifetimes as well. So to give a seamless customer experience, not only in your country, but actually in somebody else’s country, I think would be incredible.
47m 17s
1

Absolutely. Yeah, yeah, no, you make perfect sense, Phil. And there is extraordinary potential and in a Marcus, which as you already explained at the very beginning of our conversation, if 95% of are engaging with loyalty programs, the appetite is fundamentally there. I’m sure it’s a seminar level in Australia. Don’t have the figure top of mind, but clearly are doing amazing work, Phil. And it’s a very exciting market and I’m loving watching, and obviously listening to what you’re doing and that’s all the questions I have from my side. Was there anything else that you wanted to touch on before we wrap up?
47m 54s
2

You’re always welcomed to come to New Zealand, Paula Irish, people that have settled in New Zealand for many generations. And, and we, we promise that we make great wine and we’ll make you feel very well.
48m 5s
1

Oh, that’s fabulous. My goodness. Well, with an invitation like that, it’s definitely going on to do the wishlist. So listen, Phil Devlin. Thank you so much from let’s talk loyalty. Thank you. This show is sponsored by “The Wise Marketer”, the world’s most popular source of loyalty marketing news, insights and research.
49m 17s
1

The Wise Marketer also offers loyalty marketing training, both online and in workshops around the world through its Loyalty Academy, which has already certified over 150 executives in 18 countries as Certified Loyalty Marketing Professionals. 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. Now, of course I’d love your feedback and reviews and thanks again for supporting the show.