510: Epsilon UK Launches the Epsilon Loyalty Index Research Report

This episode is available as a podcast on “Let’s Talk Loyalty” and in video as www.Loyalty.TV.

Today’s episode features research from our friends in Epsilon, who have been focused discovering the underlying factors that are truly driving UK consumers loyalty in 2024.

The result is “Epsilon Loyalty Index” (UK edition) which was created to support loyalty marketers in the UK looking to find new and innovative ways of building loyalty with their customers.

Joining me today to share her insights on the Epsilon Loyalty Index is Senior Vice President of Business Development Epsilon UK, Maria Giacobbe.

Listen to enjoy our conversation about her insights on how to drive customer loyalty in the UK in 2024!

Show notes:

1) “⁠Epsilon Loyalty Index⁠” (UK edition)

2) Epsilon

3) Maria Giacobbe

4) Loyalty Connect Dubai 2024

5) Watch the full interview at www.Loyalty.TV

Audio Transcript

Paula: 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 today’s episode of Let’s Talk Loyalty and Loyalty TV. Now, many of you might remember that we did some exciting work a while back, sharing the Epsilon Loyalty Index, which was created for loyalty marketers in the Australian market. Today, I’m delighted to announce that the same loyalty index has been created for the UK market designed to support marketers in the UK, looking to find new and innovative ways of building loyalty with customers.

This research index is a robust reflection of consumer expectations based on interviews with over 2000 UK idols. And about 40 leading brands across four consumer categories: fashion, electronics, and appliances, grocery, retailing, and banking. From these conversations, they discovered the underlying factors that truly drive customer loyalty in the UK market in 2024.

Joining me today to share her insights from the UK Epsilon Loyalty Index is Maria Giacobbe, Senior Vice President of Business Development for Epsilon UK. I hope you enjoy our conversation.

So, Maria, welcome to Let’s Talk Loyalty and to Loyalty TV. 

Maria: Hello, great to be here. Thank you for having me. 

Paula: Great stuff, Maria. I don’t know if you know, actually, the history about our work with Epsilon. I was just thinking before we came on air, you guys were our very, very first sponsor for the show way back I think it was 2020. So I have an extra place in my heart for you guys. I feel like I wouldn’t have a business if it wasn’t for Epsilon. So thank you so much for being here and coming back again in 2024. 

Maria: Oh, that’s amazing. Well, thank you for having me because I know that you’ve just passed your 500 episodes. So congratulations on that. And I feel very honored to be here actually. I’ve only been listening to you for just shorter a year now because my background isn’t traditionally on the loyalty side. So yeah, I feel very honored to be here. Thank you very much. 

Paula: That’s great. And it’s obviously our first time doing Loyalty TV with you guys as well. So a whole other level of fun and games and very exciting to be able to create this wonderful conversation and hear what you’re doing, particularly in the UK market. And Maria, I think, you know, that it’s our second biggest audience after the US. So definitely, there’s a lot of people dying to hear what you guys are working on.

So before we get into the main topic of the conversation, as you know, I always love to kick off this podcast and the TV channel, of course, trying to get an understanding about what people are really finding is compelling in the loyalty space, I suppose, with your consumer hat on or even as a professional. So Maria, kick us off and please do tell me what is your current favorite loyalty program? 

Maria: Yes, it’s a very worthy question, isn’t it? Because knowing that I was coming on your podcast, I was in bed last night looking at my phone and all the programs that I’m part of, and it turns out that the answer to that is that I’m part of 16, which I was quite surprised at.

Paula: Wow.

Maria: Turns out my partner, on the other hand, was not so surprised and he took that as an opportunity to address my shopping addiction, which at 11 o’clock, you can probably imagine wasn’t welcome at all. So, so naturally I was thinking about my own behaviors with these programs and trying to work out how I could score them in my own head. You know, in terms of as a customer, did they make me feel recognized and rewarded? Did they make me feel like I had a like I had an emotional connection or I was emotionally invested with the brands and through that recognition and emotional connection, did they ultimately increase my purchase propensity and my to the brand. So did they prevent me from glancing elsewhere? 

And I have to say that a few of them did. A few of them definitely fit that bill. Obviously, Amazon Prime, M&S and Costa. But there were two that particularly stood out to me. One was the British Airways Executive Club, which I’m pretty sure a lot of people have come on here and talked about. And the other one was Pets at Home VIP Club. There’s absolutely no doubt in my mind that these programs are an additional driver in how I go about maintaining the relationship that I have with them. It’s obviously not the only driver because I like the fundamentals of these brands, right? I like their products. I like their services. They’re accessible to me. So there isn’t a fundamental business problem that these brands have, which I think is important because sometimes we get approached sometimes from brands, and they’re looking at a loyalty program as a way of fixing a business problem like poor, like service or products. And we all know that loyalty programs can’t do that right there. They’re an accelerator. All the brands existing success.


But will I pay extra to fly British airways? Because I think it’s going to allow me to maintain my silver status or maintain my lounge access or get me a cheeky upgrade from time to time. Absolutely. It makes my life easier because it gets me to my destination. Well rested. Shame to say it also appeals to my my, my step, my ego a little bit from a status perspective. 

Paula: Yes, yes.

Maria: Yeah, so and then I think about pets at home. I love that they know who I am personally. And more importantly, they know who my two dingling delinquent cats are. So without trying to sound like a complete crazy cat lady, the fact that when I log into the app, I’m greeted by photos of their faces, and all the communication references their names. And you know, that makes me feel like they know my most precious possessions. And they remind, actually, you can’t see one, but they’re actually on the bed behind me, but you can’t see them, and I’m looking at them now, and I’m like, by most precious possession, whenever I go to the, whenever I go to my local store in Walton-on-Thames, the service is always great.

The veterinary service is fantastic, and they keep me reminded about, Things that I need to be aware of, like alerts, seasonal alerts that I would say, but also, you know, when they’re fleeing, worming treatments up with you, all of that stuff. And they’ve done a really good job of using the data that they have to personalize that experience.

So, you know, I think they’ve got around 8 million members now and it actually, that’s it. They’re still growing. I think they grew, it grew by 5 percent last year, despite the fact that it launched way back in 2012. So I think they’re doing really great things there. 

Paula: Well, you know what, Maria, you are preaching to the converted. I am also a crazy cat lady, and we do not have any loyalty program in this country that I’m aware of that has that degree of personalization and Ernie and Lucy do not get sufficient mentions in the communications I have with my vet in Dubai. So I’m a little bit envious about pets at home. So we’ll have to definitely make sure that we try and get them on the show. So a great example to kick us off.

And I can hear what But I’m loving actually, as you’re talking, of course, both, you know, as that crazy cat lady, but also as a loyalty professional, which I think you just confessed is not something that you’ve done for a very long time. So I’m dying to get into your background, but it certainly sounds like a brilliant example of personalization and to pick up on your point, absolutely. Loyalty is not going to fix anything for any brand if the core product is not right. And for me, it’s it’s a perfect solution or lever in an industry that has a lot of competition and a lot of perceived similarity. 

And I’m guessing in the UK, given how mature the market is there, that there is plenty, I’m sure, of pet care companies that you can get all of the services that you need from. But a database of 8 million pet owners, my goodness, I could only imagine what I could do with that. So a brilliant example, and people often say, you know, personalization is something we talk about and we don’t deliver. But it sounds like you actually have a really valid, fully personalized experience with that program.

Maria: I do. Yeah. And I think the thing is with pets, they’re so, they’re so personal to us. Right? So, you know, if you think about if you could just personalize any communication, just with the breed of animal, because they all look, I mean, they all look pretty similar. I know that they’re, I know that they’re all unique to us. And we think that we’ve got the best one, which I have. And they’re listening now. So I can’t say that now. But just that just seeing an animal that, you know, you know, seeing it is similar to it instantly makes someone lean in instantly engages them. So with something as personal as that, yeah, there’s really, there’s big opportunity to any pet brands that are using data in that way to really connect with consumers.

Paula: Brilliant. Yeah. In fact, I remember hearing at one point that of all of the content on the internet, the single most consumed was cat videos. And that is probably still true because I know I watch a lot of them. So I think you and I will sometime need to get together, have a cocktail and compare our cat albums. So yeah. 

Maria: There’s a few things that I watch when I’m feeling down. 

Paula: Brilliant stuff. So, so tell us, Maria, then the professional background as you’ve alluded to. You haven’t been in loyalty specifically or even Epsilon for that long. So tell us your professional background and how did you get to where you are today?

Maria: I have been in Epsilon for a very long time, but not in digital media.

Paula: Ah, okay. Gotcha.

Maria: Yeah, so I oversee the new business teams over at Epsilon. I’ve always been in, on the business development side throughout my career. So I start, I first started in trade press. So I did three years at a large publishing house called Haymarket. And that was selling titles, advertising in magazines that your listeners are probably familiar with. So initially marketing, but also campaign

Paula: Yeah. Wow. 

Maria: Sad to say that for the most part of my time there, the internet hadn’t really taken off. Advertisers a free button or placement on the website is like a freebie or bonus when they bought a staged advert. Really showing my age now. I know I am. But yeah, it was kind of in the last six months of my time there that we kind of started to feel the shift to online. 

So I made the jump into digital where I spent five years at a a German owned ad network which was called Ad Pepper, rather bizarre name. I never got to the bottom of that in my time there. And, but I’ve spent my time essentially selling into large advertising agencies across London, where I built up some really good relationships across the industry. I had a lot of fun as well because I was in my twenties back then. 

And then in 2011, I moved to what was then an American owned company called ValueClick, which was based in Putney in southwest London. I’d actually been interviewing at Google at the time when I was approached by super intelligent really commercially astute guy called Elliot Clayton, who was then Sales Director of ValueClick. But I’m very pleased to say that I still work with him today and I still report into him today as he is now my managing director.

So my name had been recommended to him with, by somebody that I used to the Haymarket. And he he came over to me and he, we had a chat and interview and it got really well. And when he offered me the job, I actually declined because my heart was set on Google. I had real kind of tunnel vision and I was on my sixth interview there.

Paula: Oh my God. 

Maria: It just so happens I didn’t get the job at Google and thank God I didn’t because I would have missed out on what has been the best 12 to 13 years of my professional career. 

Paula: Wow.

Maria: So back in 2011, Value Click was essentially what it said on the tin in the sense that it was a performance ad network. Whilst it was still relatively small in the UK, it was part of this much larger business that was American owned and what really stood out to me was the team, Elliot, the culture they’d created. it felt like nowhere that I’d worked before. So that, you know, the breadth of knowledge and expertise across the business were remarkable and the kind of what I would call open door policy combined with this, we can be part of anything if we set our minds to it.

It was really infectious and inspiring. It made it very easy to learn and grow because everyone was so approachable. Everyone embraced change and growth and everyone just wanted to share and see each other like share success and see each other win. So over the last 12 to 13 years, Value Click became Epsilon.

Paula: Okay. 

Maria: It was acquired by Epsilon, which is actually a business that dates back much longer. And in 19 we, so we were acquired by Epsilon and then Epsilon was acquired by Publicis Group. And since then we’ve acquired another two businesses into the Epsilon fold, but via Publicis. So it’s obviously not the same company as when I started, it’s evolved over time and it’s been able to do that because of its people and its culture.

So yeah, it’s been an absolute rollercoaster of super fun, super insightful and yeah. Very, very successful. I think sales is renowned for being pretty fast paced. So to be with a company for that amount of time, I guess you can say it’s pretty rare, but actually when I think about it, 80 percent of not only my team, but also the wider organization, I think have been there for about six to seven years plus, of course, we’ve hired new faces as we’ve expanded. But I really speaks to the amazing culture and of course the fantastic products and businesses that we’ve got developed and have, you know, made it such a great place to work. 

Paula: Yeah. Yeah, you know what, actually, another observation I have for you, Maria, which I’ve said before on this show, but I’ve had, again, over the years, quite a few, again, senior Epsilon people like yourself on the show. And I think at least three or four, and again, you know, you know, your level kind of business development director type people all came from, you know, being clients of Epsilon. And then as soon as they were in the mode to move into a new role, the first place they applied was their technology company supplier and the loyalty platform that they were working with already. So to come from brand side to, to client side or to platform side, I can tell you is something that I have noticed uniquely about you guys. So there is something infectious about the people culture. So, so well done. 

But why loyalty, Maria? Because again, digital ad networks are exploding. I know Elliot’s businesses is going, you know, super well at the moment, but why loyalty?

Maria: Because, well, because Epsilon is actually 50 year old business. And it’s always specialized in what I would say is personalized outcome based marketing. So everything that we do. Who revolves around being able to understand the customer so you can personalize communication and then prove that it is having an incremental impact on real business outcomes.

And we work with hundreds of brands across all verticals and continents. So our client portfolio includes like well known consumer facing brands like McDonald’s, Unilever, Deliveroo, Boohoo Group, Bank of America, to more kind of more niche or B2B brands like FedEx or RS Components. And we are very much a loyalty business at heart in the sense that our staff are loyal, which I’ve just spoken about, our clients are loyal, but it’s also where Epsilon started many moons ago which was delivered data strategy and technology to help brands design, build and launch their loyalty programs. And they’re very good at it because of the strategic expertise that we have. And the highly scalable and flexible technology platform we have. 

In fact, we’re the only provider to be ranked the market leader in both the Forrester’s Loyalty Waves for Technology and Strategic Services. So I’m super proud to be working alongside really, you know, talented strategists. And product engineers as well, right. That make the actual product. But of course over the years, the nature of loyalty and the way in which we go about creating those more emotional connections has changed and evolved and along with it so has the way that we use data to drive more than just performance of the loyalty program itself. 

And so where our business at Epsilon has evolved over the years and is differentiated when it comes to our competitors is not only in how we help brands collect more consented marketing data and loyalty programs are certainly one of the ways in which we do that, but also helping them make sense of that data and enable them to activate that data, loyalty data in particular, in other channels, whether that be through our direct mail services, our email and SMS marketing platform, but crucially activate in digital spaces like digital media and connected TV, for example even onto a website.

Paula: Okay, yeah.

Maria: So, you know, I’m at that intersection where digital media and loyalty. Has now crossed and I’m able to use my digital media background to then kind of help clients run more integrated marketing strategy. So naturally I’m now speaking to the loyalty teams more as well.  So yeah, I think the way that it’s evolved, the way that the market is moving towards more integrated automated marketing through the acceleration customer data platforms and even things like data clean rooms now naturally means that the conversations we have with marketers are no longer kind of dimensional with a single department or division of the marketing team. 

So to give you more context actually it used to be for instance that digital marketers approach companies like ours to tap into the data that we own. So for example, i’m the digital media manager for a jewelry brand you And I want to target 18 to 35 female audiences who potentially like buying jewelry. Can you help me, Epsilon? Identify that audience based on the data signals that you see to help me drive performance of my digital media campaigns? And, you know, that was valuable because Epsilon has a lot of, browsing contextual demographic data that would mean we could build out an assumed audience that fitted that scope, but now a brand can attach their own data to Epsilon’s data to get this all encompassing view of who the consumer is, both inside and outside of their own universe, which is game changing.

Because it goes from modeling inferred audiences to actually knowing who your customers are and who they are not. And that means you can drive almost any business goal for any of the marketing teams because you can simply identify who are and are not your customers. So for the e com or performance team, for example, that might be, how can we use loyalty data to identify in store customers and then, and their shopping behaviors and then target them with relevant messaging through digital environments to convert them into online shoppers? So the marketing might, it might be how can we use all our data to drive more relevant awareness of our different brand values or new product or loyalty program launches against different segments or lapsed customers or new prospects.

And then for the CRM and loyalty teams, it could be, how do we use our data  to drive more reach and engagement of our existing customers through other channels outside of email, digital media and connected TV, for example? Because email open rates are only about 10%. So, it’s that whole connected experience and loyalty data being cornerstone to being able to drive better personalized marketing across the entire mix.

Paula: Indeed. And that’s a great word, actually, Maria. Cornerstone. And, you know, with the best will in the world, data on its own, you know, is nothing without the, I suppose, you know, overall market context and the insights as well, which I know we’re here to talk about today, specifically in terms of the work you guys and your marketing colleagues have been putting in to create The Epsilon loyalty index for the UK, which is a hugely exciting development.

I know it’s been in the pipeline for a long time. We worked with your colleagues in the Australia market as well, and not too long ago to publish exactly the same inside. So you must have been thrilled to bits to get insights. at this level of detail. So I’d love if you wouldn’t mind, Maria, maybe just introducing the whole research piece for us, because I think it is the first time it’s been done for UK loyalty marketers to have access to. So would you give us a sense of what it includes, the scope of the research, and basically the approach that was taken to bring it to life? 

Maria: Absolutely. I’d love to. So yes, Epsilon conducted a large study. It was a huge and pretty impressive undertaken by our data scientists and strategists and marketing teams. So kudos to them. So they essentially surveyed just over two, two, I think it was 2, 250 consumers and then taking what was a more kind of holistic approach. They used all sorts of, I don’t know, statistical techniques and machine learning that are way above my pay grade to determine the key loyalty drivers that go on to impact consumer attitudes that can then be used to predict behavioral loyalty. So ultimately proving that, you know, attitudes are indeed what impact behavior and it’s and ultimately it’s the key to optimizing towards and measuring true customer loyalty over time.

And the key thing is that because it was on, it was based on consumer feedback, it’s from a consumer’s perspective. So, essentially they were asked about 40 they were asked questions about 40 well recognized and established brands across four different verticals, which were fashion, grocery, consumer electronics, and consumer banking. So ten brands for each vertical essentially. And respondents had to have purchased from at least one of the ten brands in all four categories in at least the last three months for fashion and grocery, or twelve months in finance, and consumer electronics where they’re buying cycles are a little bit longer. 

And the brands ranged from 10 of the largest chains in grocery, the ones that you would expect. So everyone from Audi, Tesco’s right the way through to Iceland, your big fast fashion brands like Boohoo, Zara, H&M to like a more sustainable brand like FatFace. And in consumer electronics, you had your usuals like Apple, Curry’s, John Lewis, Argos, to online retailers like AO.com and Appliances Online. And then finally banking had the top retail banks that you all know, plus a payment brand which was Klarna. 

So, some of the questions that they were asked were about their use or frequency of purchase and those questions were about their behavioral loyalty and were categorized into share of category, share of wallet, and share of time. Whilst other questions were about their attitudes to those specific brands, which were categorized as share of mind, share of heart, and share of value. So the idea is we were trying to work out what percentage of the different attitudinal loyalty categories contributed to behavioral loyalty. 

So as an example, if enjoyable experience is really important to many consumers in a particular category, then share of heart may have a significant percentage in that category. And then the study looked at the different loyalty drivers that were influencing consumer attitude and loyalty, which was split into fundamental drivers being your, you know, your price, product, location, promotion, and then the accelerators, which are the leavers that you so called them that a company can pull to influence attitudes. So things like personalized incentives, experiences and education. 

So the purpose of the index particularly for brands directly involved is it provides an objective, robust measurement of true customer loyalty because it is customer led and then offers potential suggestions for how they can accelerate their loyalty further. It actually offers, you know, This one holistic index in each category that bands brands can then use as a benchmark to get strengths and improvement areas.

And for brands that aren’t featured in the index, it provides ideas into the loyalty drivers that work within their vertical. So it’s essentially unlocked insights that can make you more relevant, make you more competitive, more of a decisive kind of marketer. Ultimately I think customers are telling us and showing us that they what they want through, you know, their observe observable kind of actions. So we need to, I guess, listen and look closer at the data. So a survey of this kind is invaluable, really. And I think the team have done a really good job of taking all that data and turning it into something really useful, digestible, but more importantly, actionable. 

But it’s also worth pointing out actually that not everything is included within the downloadable brochure. As it would have been, you know, far too large a document we went, we want brands to reach out to us and we want to have a conversation about it and hear firsthand from marketers about what they would like to know more about and how they think it could help. So if anyone is interested in delving into the weeds a bit more, particularly if you, you know, if you’re a brand that’s featured, I would highly recommend reaching out to us at Epsilon and we can take you through more of the data and the findings and even perhaps put a list of recommendations together. So yeah, our email address is, it’s really easy to remember. It’s hello@epsilon.com and you can find it on the last page of the report. 

Paula: Amazing. Yeah. No. And I think that’s really important to pick up on Maria. So first and foremost, again, every loyalty program I’ve ever worked for, we always wanted more research, more insights, and not just again, internally for our own brand to hear what our own members were saying or consumers and non members. What we also wanted was the vertical view, of course, of our category and how we might be positioned or perceived relative to others. From a loyalty perspective and with that lens, and then, of course, it makes perfect sense to look even outside of our own industry to kind of see, well, what is happening in banking that might be relevant in fashion or vice versa.

So what I know you guys have told me again in preparation for day is this is a no strings attached collaborative piece of research that Epsilon has come together to serve. I suppose UK loyalty marketers. And as you’ve said, there is a brochure available with you know, wonderful kind of 20 odd pages of instantly understandable and actionable insights. So you can start to see, okay, how overall is the UK market behaving? I think one of the things that has really struck me I suppose just even in recent months is of course, the economic situation in the UK has meant that more and more consumers are looking to loyalty programs to just even balance the household budget.

So, there’s a lot more expectations, I think, from, you know, the whole industry, from consumers, from all sides. So, to be able to get you know, a brochure like this again, with actionable insights, and again, I know when you’re very kindly offering to have those conversations, that’s coming from a very sincere place, of course. Mutual interest. How can Epsilon, you know, support people who might want more, you know, strategic insight and support. But, you know, why not have a phone call and kind of see what additional insights might be available. So, I know you’re very keen for people to reach out and connect with you to do that as much as possible.

Maria: Yeah, absolutely. So, you know, the kind of the further insight, for instance, that we could talk about, you know, over a phone conversation or over a meeting is how to like, like, think things like the makeup or breakup of what of how those segments are made up in those different verticals. So looking at, you know, what, for instance, in consumer electronics, what’s the percentage of people that are truly loyal or what we would deem to be multi brand loyalists, explorers or transactionals, for example, and then looking at what are the levers that we, what are the things that those different segments of audiences seek because that’s all in the data that we put within the survey. 

So sharing that level of data as well is something that I think brands would really be keen to get their hands on. And as I said it’s not something that you can put into the survey or with everything else. So yeah, there’s a lot more that we would love to talk to brands about directly. 

Paula: Totally. Yes. Yeah. There’s no point drowning in data either, you know, so it’s important to get it relevant to exactly what your pain point might be in terms of the questions you’re trying to, you know, answer for your own business. So I’m guessing there were things that you weren’t surprised about, things that you were surprised about. So give us a couple of insights, Maria. What did you like most, you know, coming out of this research? 

Maria: You’re after all the juicy details, aren’t you Paula? 

Paula: Totally.

Maria: That’s what you’re after. I know you. 

Paula: Give us something juicy. Yeah, go on. 

Maria: So yeah, you’re absolutely right. There were things in there that came out that were I would say, predictable. So, like you just mentioned, you know, 72, I think it was around 72%, if I remember rightly, indicating that rising prices, you know, made loyalty schemes far more important to them. So I would say that’s something that was, you know, perhaps not so surprising.

But then there were things that, you know, that were perhaps to me anyway, were a little bit more surprising, I would say. So, some of the things that were perhaps surprising were the brands who performed the best in three of the four categories didn’t actually have a loyalty program, which I guess demonstrates that a loyalty program isn’t absolutely vital to be successful in driving attitudinal and behavioral loyalty. It’s quite possible that if you have your, you know, the right fundamentals in place and they’re structured properly, you know, your price, your product, your service, and location that they, that you could do extremely well as a brand. 

And I think that’s obvious, but it does leave you thinking particularly in markets that are extremely competitive and where every piece of market share counts, is it possible that where those brands to have a program, Is there a chance it could help them convert more what we would say multi loyalists that do, are loyal to some brands, but switch between those brands into true loyal loyalists where they’re going with one brand. And therefore what could that do to market share over time? 

So I’ll give you an example because I’m feeling very generous today.

Paula: Go on.

Maria: If we take ALDI, for instance who scored the highest in the grocery category I’m definitely giving more away than I should. 

Paula: Amazing. Well done ALDI. Yeah. 

Maria: Well done ALDI. We saw that through their fundamentals they outperformed other brands by as much as 12%. So really strong work from ALDI. And I think they’ve done a fantastic job of building their brand values so that customers recognize them and they know what they stand for. And they feel that they are getting a perceived sense of value from them. 

However, on the loyalty accelerators, and those were the levers that you can pull, such as educational content that you could include in your program participation, like feedback and community, personalization and recognition, they performed 6 to 7 percent lower than the median, likely because they don’t have a loyalty program, right?

So, so you’ve got to, it does make you think, could a program that is so Centered around driving those things, in particular, actually educational content, because we saw in the grocery sector, that was a key accelerator. driver that contributed to attitudinal royalty. So could a program that put on those lead leave levers help increase the number of uncommitted consumers into loyalists? It’s very likely that it could. And where the gap is fairly tight between ALDI and Morrisons for fourth place in terms of market share. If I was a part of the team at ALDI, I’d be looking at that and perhaps taking it to the c-suite to demonstrate that there is, you know, potentially some untapped value and that things the consumers want to see more of. 

So it’s things like that, that if again, if listeners, if the listeners are listening to this and finding that interest that they can reach out to us and can really dig into the data at both a brand and category level to work out action points that at the very least need considering, particularly given that it’s digital.

Paula: Totally.

Maria: Objective and very robust study because it’s consumer led. And then I guess other things that were interesting as I look down, I see my notes. There were, that there were certainly themes that cut across all four verticals. You know, customers, there were quite common themes, but customers also exhibited kind of nuanced behaviors as well. So it’s no surprise that price and product were the largest fundamental contributors to the impact on somebody’s attitude. And I think we can all relate to that, right? So, have a loyal attitude towards a brand we have to like that, to, you know, to like their range of products and their brands. And we have to feel like it’s at a price point that it sits okay with us. 

But if you look at the loyalty accelerator impacting people’s attitudes in each category, these were slightly different, really reinforcing that you know, that a one size fits all approach to loyalty isn’t going to cut the mustard anymore. So in fashion, for example, we saw it was personalization that consumers are looking for from a brand to have a more of a loyal attitude towards them. Whilst in grocery, it was education. I think the vertical that surprised me the most was consumer electronics, but I’m not going to say what it was because this is going to download the report.

Paula: Okay, now you’re teasing. Go on. 

Maria: I’m trying. I’m trying. Got to drum up the the appetite. 

Paula: Totally.

Maria: And then one last thing I will share before I remain more kind of tight lipped on, on it in the fear of being reprimanded by my marketing team is that, it was share of heart that was the number one factor in loyalty attitudes, which really emphasizes the role of emotions and experiences, which I guess could very well be down to the shift in consumer priorities from everything that’s going on in the world right now.

But it contributed to more than 40 percent towards driving behavioral loyalty in each vertical. So whether someone trusts the brand whether they enjoy buying from them, because it’s a frictionless experience, whether they feel the brand understand their needs and reflects their personal values, these were the attitudes that were predominantly. The impact in a consumer’s level of loyal behavior. 

And I’ll say here, it was the consumer electronics sector that surprised me here as I’d have thought that share of value would have been higher in that vertical. I don’t know about you, but I thought it would be value, but it was the lowest of any vertical, even lower than share of, it was even lower than share of mine. So share of value was the least was driving the least amount of impact from a behavioral standpoint. 

Paula: Totally. Yeah. I love that, Maria. Again, you know, you’ve mentioned the two that were my most, you know, delighted conclusions from reading through the brochure. And one, as you said, was that idea about share of heart, because we’re always talking about that on this show. So for you guys to, you know, categorically have that feedback again, as you said, from such a robust consumer panel is brilliant to hear there, at least we’re thinking in the right way and along the right lines. I think it’s much easier said than done, you know, to achieve that emotional loyalty, you know, the strategic thinking that’s required to deliver an emotional led program, I think is something that definitely requires a lot of thinking, maybe outside the box that hasn’t been done before.

But then as a content creator, you know, and it was two of your categories as well, Maria. So you mentioned grocery and as you said, electronics and appliances both had this idea that creating educational content as a lever was something that consumers would absolutely value hugely. And it came through actually in the Australian research as well, I remember. Because again, I was like, that’s the first time that I’ve seen the work that I do being relevant and requested from a consumer perspective. 

So I know we had for example, a while ago on the show, we had Boots in the UK, and they also talked about content, you know, again, within the Boots Advantage program as a unique lever that they were able to pull and people already, of course, are using trusted the Boots brand. And then if you’ve got information and educational content coming through, it’s absolutely extraordinary. So, if brands like Boots are doing it, then who are we to argue?  So thank you for attempting this. 

Maria: Absolutely. 

Paula: Yeah, lots of insights there, Maria. It would be remiss, and of course, we’ll talk about it again towards the end of the show, but just if people are already kind of going, okay, so where is this wonderful research? Tell us exactly what’s the easiest way to go and download the brochure. 

Maria: So they can head to our website, which is www.epsilon.com/EMEA or if you type in Epsilon Loyalty Index into Google. It comes up pretty much straight away. And as you say, there’s also, we’ve also done them in APAC and the Middle Eastern markets as well, because I know this is a global podcast. So yeah, it’s quite easy to find. 

Paula: Indeed. Yeah. And again, I know from your colleagues around the world, this is something that you’re planning to build on year after year. So I know we’ll be coming back in 2025 and God, I don’t know when, but, you know, to kind of keep those stories continuing so we can kind of see what happens in different markets, you know, over time, so, so super excited with all of that. 

So listen, now that we’ve explained the whole piece that we came here to focus on today, tell me a bit more about what is Epsilon doing in 2024 that our audience should know about. I know we’ve a couple of shared agendas that are super exciting, certainly from my perspective. So do you want to tell our audience about some of your plans for the upcoming months? 

Maria: Yeah. Absolutely. Yeah, right now we’re busy preparing for a few events that we’ve got coming up, which is really exciting. We’ve got the GDS CMO insight summit in April that we’re sponsoring, which is taking place in Barcelona.

Paula: Okay. 

Maria: Hopefully a bit more sunshine over there. I think. You know, 2023 was a pivotal moment in the marketing landscape for so many different reasons like digital tracking, the macros, all of that stuff. So looking forward to seeing how the C-suite have coped with this disruption. You know, whether they’ve had to reassess and recalibrate their strategies and to see how they might be navigating what is now a very dynamic environment, which requires a lot of foresight into future trends.

I was actually, I was at an event yesterday for retailers. And it was mainly e-commerce and digital marketers. And it’s very clear that a lot of them feel very underprepared for the changes that Google are making, for instance, to the Chrome browser, where they’re removing third party cookies, what marketers use to track people across the open web, that’s great for us. Cause that’s something that Epsilon can really help with. So really looking forward to seeing what the problems that the C-suite are having in particular as well at this event, and we’ll be having a number of one to one meetings at the summit and hosting some round tables there. So if anybody’s going to that event, do reach out. We’d love to connect. 

And then, of course, we are main stage sponsors at Loyalty Connect in Dubai. I know you had married in Dubai. on the cast a few weeks back and you’ll be going yourself, won’t you Paula? 

Paula: Of course, yes, I’m hosting a panel, Maria, did you not know? I’m center stage as well, I’m going to be there with you.

Maria: I’m trying to give you a little plug. Yeah, so we’re extremely excited about the event. There’ll be a whole bunch of and we’re also taking some of the brands we work with too. So, as main stage sponsors, we’ll be doing some on stage talking. We have a keynote on each of the days. So on day one Elliott Clayton, we’ll be talking about how to establish what loyalty means to you and your customers, which is really all about how you go about getting the right strategy and the right ingredients for your program, but also, you know, your brand and customer experience as a whole. And we’ll be joined on stage for that by Luca and Angelica from Coty who we work with.

And then on day two, Dave Allen, who I believe has also been on one of your podcasts. He’s one of our commercial directors. He’ll be talking about loyalty technology in particular, and how you go about future proofing your program in a changing digital landscape. And it’s likely that he’ll be joined on stage by one or two of our clients that we’re still in the process of confirming. 

So yeah, super busy, super exciting time. Again, we’d love to meet up and chew the fat with anyone who’s traveling to buy for the event. And I think it would be nice to be out in the sun, sipping on a few cocktails as well. So yeah very, very  excited indeed. 

Paula: Amazing. Yeah. And for me, I suppose the reason I’m so excited, not just that I don’t have to get on a plane, of course, for Loyalty Connect, but there’s two, I think very unique selling points for that event quite genuinely. One is the sheer scale. So as you know, I’m sure Maria, it is by far the biggest loyalty event on the planet this year projected attendance of 3000 people. So we’re going to be literally, I mean, I think it’s going to be, you know, hard work and hard fun actually as well. I think we’re going to be having a ball the whole week together just to have such a huge community gathering in Dubai. 

And secondly, to go back to your point about the C-suite, it is being positioned with very much a C-suite audience as well, which I also think is very different. So sometimes I worry that, you know, even for me as a loyalty marketer, I’m only talking to loyalty people. So we really need to be thinking up a level or as many levels as there are in our organizations. The CMOs, the CFOs, the CEOs, so yeah, so Loyalty Connect is definitely focusing on getting that type of attendance as well. So, so yeah, if anybody needs to check it out, we’ll make sure it’s in the show notes as well. So yeah, Loyalty Connect is definitely one that we’re all kind of gearing up for. 

So listen, Maria, we’re very much coming to the end of our session here today. I suppose, you know, the most important thing, again, you know, The Epsilon Loyalty Index, of course you know, go directly to that website for anyone who wants to get insights in the UK market.

And the second thing I wanted to mention is we have created actually from our side a dedicated podcast specifically in short form content. So every single week starting today, same date that this interview is being released, there is a weekly podcast just sharing some kind of key insights. Again, people can kind of listen and again, just to what people’s appetite in short form to support this particular interview all about ELI as we’re now calling it as an acronym.

So listen, my final question then to you, Maria, is, you know, there are lots of brands that might be listening to this show and certainly my audience that are sometimes haven’t even launched a program. So if people are kind of curious as to whether, you know, it’s worth kind of taking the leap, obviously it’s a very big decision. And just wanted to get your kind of parting words and advice, given your, you know, lengthy experience, you know, on all sides of marketing, really. What would you advise people who are thinking about this very big decision in terms of what should they do? 

Maria: Yeah, it’s a big question, isn’t it? Firstly, I would say if your brand is operating in a market where you have product service and price parity with your competitors, then there isn’t really a reason why a program wouldn’t work for you. So really, I would say, have the confidence to devote the time to it. Because I think sometimes it’s loyalty programs can often be the thing that kind of, people say it’s a priority and then we meet them at an event two, three years later, and it’s still on there. It’s still a priorities list as for me. 

And then if you aren’t the decision maker and it’s going to require you to get buy in from the Sweet C-suite, my advice is to do it as early on as possible in the process. And you do that with a concise business plan that outlines everything from business goals and objectives of the program, cost versus potential return and everything else in between. 

And the two key things from a program design perspective is, start by understanding the customers, speaking to them, analyzing the data, listen to what they want, and then, you know, recognizing that customer experience matters. So, what I mean by that is designing a program that is easy for customers to understand and participate in ensure it provides a seamless experience from enrollment to reward redemption, and then it reflects your brand values. 

And then lastly, from a technology or partner perspective, ensure you’re choosing or working with partners that will allow your program to evolve. You know, we often say that loyalty is not a destination. It needs constantly adapting and all too often we hear from brands who opted for a platform that was perhaps the cheapest option only to have to go through the larger pain of replatforming, you know, two or three years later down the line. So ensure that you’re looking at it through the lens of, we, this is a long term solution and it’s something that is likely to evolve as technology advances over time. 

Something that’s worked obviously pointing out this time is that Epsilon does a free no strings attached workshop, which we call Loyalty Lab, and it’s essentially a half day workshop where we work through 14 steps of program design. So that’s everything from objectives, challenges, barriers, audiences, brand values, what rewards might look like. And the idea is at the end of it we at Epsilon we take it away and then we spend a week putting a straw man together and that can become the kind of like the basis of a program design that you can then take the business that the brand can take internally and that can also form part of the business case, and we’ll also work with a brand to create a business case for this, their C-suite. So that’s something again, that’s completely free of charge and there’s no strings attached at all.

Paula: Amazing. Okay. So what I’m definitely going to do, of course, Maria is make sure that we link to your LinkedIn profile as well. So if people do want to, of course, reach out and avail of, you know, the Loyalty Lab specifically. I think that’s again, an extraordinary opportunity. I know when I was running loyalty programs, I would have been absolutely biting your hand off to get access to that. 

So, so, and the other piece genuinely to say is quite a few of the people who listen, some of the bigger brands that listen to our show have already been through a Loyalty Labs with you guys in both the US market and in Australia. I don’t think we’ve yet had any in the UK. So it’s high time we had a bit of that going on. So, keen to support everybody on both sides. And you guys are incredibly generous in terms of what you do for the industry. 

So on that note, I just want to say it’s been a wonderful conversation, Maria. I can’t wait to welcome you to Dubai. And I want to make sure that everybody knows EpsilonLoyaltyIndex.com is where to get all of the information. Have you anything else? that you wanted to say just before we wrap up, Maria? 

Maria: Hopefully just see you all in Dubai. 

Paula: Amazing. Okay. So on that note, Maria Giacob, Senior Vice President of Business Development for Epsilon UK. Thank you so much from Let’s Talk Loyalty and Loyalty TV. 

Maria: Thank you.

Paula: This show is sponsored by Wise Marketer Group, publisher of The Wise Marketer, the premier digital customer loyalty marketing resource for industry relevant news, insights and research. Wise Marketer Group also offers loyalty education and training globally through its loyalty Academy, which has certified nearly 900 marketeers and executives in 49 countries as certified loyalty marketing professionals.

For global coverage of customer engagement and loyalty, check out thewisemmarketer.com and become a wiser marketer or subscriber. Learn more about global loyalty education for individuals or corporate training programs at loyaltyacademy.org.

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