#536:Gen-Z Loyalty Unveiled: Exploring VOXI Drop

This episode focuses on VOXI Drop – Vodafone UK’s multi-award winning Gen-Z targeted surprise and delight loyalty programme.

 With Matt Eldridge and Jonny Greenslade-Cross, the VOXI Proposition and VOXI Drop Proposition Leads. They are both telco loyalty specialists – Matt has delivered a number of successful loyalty initiatives over the years. In 2012 he launched “Additions” – Carphone Warehouses’ innovative loyalty program, he then led EE’s loyalty strategy for a number of years before moving to VOXI in 2022. Jonny has worked across Vodafone and VOXI since 2021, in numerous digital and loyalty roles.

Today we will be learning about their favourite loyalty programmes, how VOXI Drop is building real customer engagement with its Gen Z audience and all about their plans for the future.

Hosted by Charlie Hills

Show Notes:

1)Jonny Greenslade-Cross 

2) Matthew Eldridge

3)  ⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠VOXI Drop

4) European Loyalty Whitepaper

5) Mando-Connect

6) YouGov

Audio Transcript

Paula: Welcome to Let’s Talk Loyalty, an industry podcast for loyalty marketing professionals. I’m Paula Thomas, the Founder and CEO of Let’s Talk Loyalty and also now Loyalty TV. Today’s episode is hosted by Charlie Hills, Chief Strategy Officer of Mando-Connect, a UK based agency that uses smart data to create brilliant partnerships and rewards that really work.

If you work in loyalty marketing, you can watch our latest video interviews every Thursday on www.loyalty.tv. And of course, you can also listen to Let’s Talk Loyalty every Tuesday, every Wednesday, And every Thursday to learn the latest ideas from loyalty experts around the world.

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Charlie: Hello, and welcome to Let’s Talk Loyalty. I’m Charlie Hills, the Chief Strategy Officer for Mando-Connect, WPP’s Loyalty Specialist Partnerships and Rewards Agency. We have created a white paper in partnership with YouGov that explores loyalty membership appeal and impact across 24 European markets. And I’m delighted to be hosting a series of podcasts featuring European loyalty experts to help listeners better understand loyalty across Europe.

Today, I am delighted to welcome Matt Eldridge and Jonny Greenslade-Cross from VOXI. Matt is the Proposition Lead for VOXI and Jonny is the Proposition Lead for VOXI Drop, Vodafone UK’s Gen Z Targeted Surprise and Delight Loyalty Program. They are both telco loyalty specialists. 

Matt has delivered a number of successful loyalty initiatives over the years. In 2012, he launched Additions, which was Carphone Warehouse’s innovative loyalty program, and he then led EE’s loyalty strategy for a number of years before moving to VOXI in 2022. Johnny has worked across Vodafone and VOXI since 2021 in numerous digital and loyalty roles. Today, we will be learning about their favorite loyalty programs, how VOXI Drop is building real customer engagement with its Gen Z audience, and all about their plans for the future. I hope you enjoy our conversation today.

So hello, Johnny. Hello, Matt. Welcome to the podcast today. I’m absolutely thrilled to have you joining us to talk all about VOXI Drop. 

Matt: Great to be here. Yeah. 

Jonny:  Thank you very much for having us. 

Charlie: Oh, it’s great. It’s such a brilliant program. And I know our listeners are going to absolutely love hearing all about it.

But before we start talking all about VOXI Drop, I’ve got to ask you Paula’s favorite question. So we’ll start with you, Matt. What is your favorite loyalty program? 

Matt: Yeah, sure. Good question. So I am a huge fan of Amazon Prime, conscious that Amazon aren’t exactly everybody’s cup of tea. But as my wife will tell you, I buy absolutely every single thing on the Amazon because it’s, because it’s so easy, right? I just love that the way that they drive loyalty by focusing on those kind of core customer experiences, but then also providing those benefits that offer us. Super good value for money for customers. And the fact that they’ve got this massive customer base that will happily pay eight, nine quid, whatever it is for prime every single month to get those benefits. And that also makes them loyal as well. I think it’s a, I think it’s brilliant. 

And one of the key things for me is that every now and again, like when I look through my bank balance and I think right away, can I save some money? Amazon is one that’s like bang. I spend so much money on Amazon. And then I think to myself, Oh, maybe, you know, I should get rid of Prime. Not only will I save however much a month, but you know, it’s, an extra barrier for me to buy stuff, but then I think, Oh, but I also get the TV and there’s other benefits and then I end up keeping it and I just buy more and more stuff with Amazon.

So, yeah, for me, Amazon Prime is a fantastic one. It’s driven through great customer experience, of course, but then the added value benefits that customers get and customers pay to be loyal customers. So ticks a lot of boxes from my perspective. 

Charlie: I don’t think you’re alone in that. I mean, it’s such an awesome program. It’s so clever how they kind of established it as one thing and then they’ve grown it over time. 

Matt: Exactly. Exactly. 

Charlie: And they just, as you say, they lock people in because it’s a brilliant experience. And then they do some really kind of clever partnerships and rewards on top of that. And as you say, the TV, you know, I don’t know what would happen in my household if I dare threatened to take away Amazon Prime, it would be a complete outrage. So yeah. Brilliant program, great choice and everyone knows it well. 

And I think one of the things that’s so interesting is a few years ago, at this point, we would have had a debate about is Amazon Prime a subscription product or a loyalty program, and actually the industry’s moved on now, actually subscription is such core part of the loyalty industry. And, you know, we’ve seen subscription programs within loyalty programs as well. So that’s one of the other things I really like about it. 

Matt: Exactly.

Charlie: You know, they really kind of changed the way people thought, well. That’s a hard act to follow Johnny. What’s your favorite loyalty program?

Jonny: Well, my favorite loyalty program isn’t even one that I’m consumer of unlike Matt. It’s actually yawn shake it now. I’m not sure if you’ve heard of it Charlie, but it’s it’s Vodafone’s youth network in Portugal called Yawn and the loyalty program is shaker and basically they are champions in gamification. They have this really cool mechanic where customers are invited to go into the app. They shake their phone and then they unlock these really cool gamified cards and win prizes. They can win sort of instant wins. They can win really cool prize draws. They can collect cards to build up to a bigger prize. 

But the amazing thing about it, and we get you know, told about it all the time in Vodafone because it’s a part of Vodafone Group. It’s that, you know, it’s one of Portugal’s most played games. So out of all of the games that customers play in an app based environment in Portugal, it’s now one of the most popular games. And it’s done amazing things, you know, for churn, for brand love and consideration. So it’s a really, really cool one. And I’m not even a consumer of it, but I watch it from afar and want to steal all their ideas and bring it back to VOXI Drop.

Charlie: Oh, that is a brilliant example of a program and it’s so lovely to hear about new programs and then to go and check it out. I did a lovely podcast a couple of months ago with Avolta and they talked about this brilliant wine subscription program and I’ve actually signed up now. So it’s great personally as well as professionally.

And I think that, that’s great gamification piece is something that we see now in so many programs, you know, in the British market, KFC Rewards Arcade has come in with, you know, a pure gamified prop and really kind of proving that, you know, loyalty and QSR can be done through gamification as well as those sort of more classic kind of points and milestones models. So that’s brilliant. And everybody loves anything kind of quirky where there’s that human element of fun is lovely as well. Like the shake the phone Caffe Nero their loyalty program. They use that for their Christmas promotions and yeah, it’s a really smart kind of technique. And it’s another one of those great ones like Amazon Prime. You know, a few years ago, we said, oh, you know, it’s subscription, a loyalty program, and we just said, oh, is gamification a fad in exactly that same way, Johnny, a few years ago. And it’s like, no, actually gamification and having a brilliant experience is as important now as what the loyalty program is.

Matt: Exactly.

Charlie: And I think that’s one of the things that many of your program fans would also say about VOXI Drop as well. You know, actually that positive disruption and that experience of the program is so unique. But we’re going to come on to talk about VOXI Drop and what you’ve been doing in that space and what ideas you’ve been, you know, Borrowing, let’s say, from across the group over time.

Before we get into that, it’s always really lovely to understand how you ended up in your current roles and how you ended up in your current kind of experience with VOXI Drop. So let’s stay with you, Johnny. You know, what’s your background and what do you enjoy about working in loyalty marketing? How did you get here as the proposition lead for VOXI Drop? 

Jonny: Sure. So I’ve been in Vodafone and VOXI specifically for the past two and a half years, managing our loyalty program, VOXI Drop. But also our member get member referral program and managing those partnerships as well. And also looking at all of our student marketing activity. So I’ve had a bit of a varied role in my two and a half years. I’m a Vodafone, which has been super fun. But today I sit, you know, as you mentioned, as the lead for VOXI Drop, our Surprise and Delight loyalty program. 

Prior to joining Vodafone I worked at L’Oreal in their luxury products division. So I looked after all CRM activity for YSL, Kiehl’s and Armani, which was super exciting working in the beauty industry, lots of really fun activations. 

But what’s most exciting for me now, sitting at Vodafone and in VOXI specifically it’s probably how we activate the program. So like I mentioned, through gamification you know, we have a really engaged audience. So we’re targeting Gen Z that digital natives by nature and they’re really engaged with our program. So this makes it really fun when we’re actually activating the program through our organic social channels. 

For example, we’ve got a partnership with Lab Bible where we run a quarterly series of catching the drop. So we go into the public and we ask, you know, people on the street to box and see what prizes they’ve won from, you know, PS5s to cash giveaways to, I mean, they just candy kits and sweets. So actually how we’re activating the program is something that’s super exciting for me beyond, you know, all the amazing partnerships that we’re running as well.

Charlie: Yeah. And I think that member engagement that you see is so key and that member feedback. Because you must feel like you have a personal relationship with all the people taking part in those drops because you get to know them. It’s a really lovely and quite honest and quite authentic, communication loop that you have with your members. I’m sure many of our listeners will be looking at it and going porridge because of the social nature of what you do, you’re getting immediate, quite quickly. quantifiable feedback back really fast, aren’t you? 

Jonny: Exactly. Yeah, we have a load of insight to review all of our positive and negative sentiment across all of the jobs that we’ve ever run. So we get that immediate feedback every single month, which, you know, and me and Matt take to heart completely. If there’s even the one comment out of the thousands we receive, you know, that are positive, we go, okay, who’s that one customer that said they didn’t like this partnership or they found it hard to claim. So we can, you know, look at that insight, identify how we can, you know, take corrective action and move the program forwards. 

Charlie: Yeah, it’s lovely. That fast paced telco nature is really kind of taken one up, I think, in VOXI. What about you, Matt? Obviously, you haven’t just been a Vodafone and VOXI. I know you’ve worked your way around a few other loyalty propositions. You know, what’s your background and how did you end up in this current role as sort of proposition lead for all of VOXI? What does your history look like? 

Matt: Yeah, sure. So I’ll I’ll try and keep it as brief as possible, but I’ve long story short, I’ve been in telco since about 2012, where I started a Carphone Warehouse to various things during my time there.

But one of the key things that I launched was their loyalty program called Additions. So this was a point in time where Carphone Warehouse were really trying to give customers super compelling reasons to either buy with them or upgrade with them rather than just going direct to their network because, yeah, that point in time was when that sort of switch was really starting to happen.

So we came up with this concept of Additions, and this was ultimately positioning to customers that well, you’ll get all of the network benefits anyway. So, for example, if you’re on Orange, you’ll get Orange Wednesdays, but if you shop with Carphone, if you upgrade with Carphone, not only do you just get your network benefits, but in addition to that, you’ll also get a lot of insights on how to get the best out of your phone. We’ll send you the best deals, for example, and then every month you’ll also get a load of treats as well on top of that and rewards and that sort of thing. So yeah, very much the focus on trying to get customers to stay with Carphone Warehouse and upgrade with them rather than just going straight to the network.

Fast forward a couple of years, I then went over to the network side of things, went to work for EE. Again, various different things during my time there, but it was around 2016. I think it was where I started to work on and start to shape their loyalty strategy and then develop that for a number of years. And this was super, super interesting because it was very different to what I was doing at Carphone. And again, for a bit of context, well, they still have, but at the time, you know, their base was probably, I don’t know, somewhere between 10 and 12 million customers. Some of those customers were legacy Orange customers. Some of them were T-Mobile from where the two brands came together. Some of them had joined just as EE and they’d known it as EE. It wasn’t that long after the BT merger. So there was some BT customers there as well, but there was a huge chunk of customers who had been with one of those brands along the way for like 10, 15 years plus.

So despite having a super loyal base from an NPS and you know, when I’m used to talk to customers, we always scored really low in terms of customer feedback. Do we recognize loyalty to be reward loyalty? So a big piece of my work was trying to think about, well, how can we kind of change that perception with customers? 

And there was the age old question being thrown around as well. We’ve got this customer base who’s been with us for such a long period of time. Do we really want to reward them to try and boost those scores up? But the challenge is that when you’ve got a customer base that big, that can become quite expensive if you’re trying to reward everybody. And also from a commercial perspective, and it’s not one that I agree with, but like the argument was, well, they’ve been with us for so long anyway, they’re never going to leave. What’s the point in rewarding them as such? 

Charlie: It’s a common challenge in loyalty, right? 

Matt: Yeah, exactly. Exactly. And then on the flip side, it’s then the argument to say, well, do we focus our attention and our effort and our budget on the customers who have not been with us for long, who are much higher likely to adjourn or leave or with the view to try and get them to stay with us for a little longer, which from a customer perspective, that feels totally unfair.

Why should we be rewarding new customers and not our existing customers who have been with us for years, like decades, some of them, but commercially there’s an argument there. So trying to shape that approach to loyalty within the business, trying to tackle some of those strategic questions. That was really interesting. So really enjoyed that. 

And then fast forward to 2022, I then made the move to VOXI, where I’m now the lead of the props team. So yeah, have the pleasure of working with Johnny and the wonderful team of Mando on all things VOXI Drop, which is our, yeah, loyalty and reward scheme. So I said I’d keep it brief. I probably didn’t, but yeah. 

Charlie: Oh, it’s fascinating. And I think what’s so lovely is it’s a really good example. We’ll have how you can work in one sector but have such different experiences, you know, from creating something which is about retail to then actually those kind of core network challenges of understanding the business case, which all of us who work in loyalty wrestle with, and then obviously creating something so sort of new in VOXI Drop. That is brilliant. I’m looking forward to seeing what you do next as well. 

Matt: A lot of people sort of hear loyalty and they just think, oh, it’s this super shiny and sexy rewards program, but there’s loads of other stuff that, that, you know, kind of falls under the loyalty wrapper as such. So, yeah, super interesting place to work anyway.

Charlie: Yeah. And there’s been so many themes, you know, in all the podcasts I’ve been privileged to record, you know, people come at loyalty from such different angles as well. So it’s great to have somebody who’s worked in loyalty in specifically in so many different brands, because quite a lot of people come in, you know, fresh to a loyalty job, say from an above the line role or from a commercial role as well. So it’s interesting to see how that experience kind of plays out. 

That experience must have obviously given you a very broad view of what’s going on in the industry, particularly in telco loyalty, but also, you know, in loyalty as a whole, you know, what are some of the interesting trends that you’re seeing at the moment?

Matt: Yeah, good question. I mean, we’ve kind of touched on, on, on some of it already really, but a massive shift towards gamification across various different brands, various different industries. And again, like reason being, you know, As consumers, we’re still people at the end of the day. We want to have a bit of fun. And we’ve seen that you know, definitely having some form of gamification can massively help to boost engagement and drive that level of brand love. And there are loads of different examples out there. 

I think one of the kind of key things that stands out for me at the moment, which is you know, definitely relevant to all of us as consumers. We’ve massively been hard hit by a cost of living crisis of late, and everybody loves a freebie at the end of the day. So when, you know, trying to save money is so important to people, customers really want to make sure that they’re spending their money wisely and they’re shopping with the right brands.

And therefore, not just am I having a good experience, am I getting good value for money? But do the brand that I’m shopping with, do they value me? And am I getting rewarded for that? And, you know, we definitely sort of see industry wide big shifts in customers starting to ditch brands that they’ve been particularly loyal to, right, for quite a long period of time because of the economic climate that we’re in and the focus on trying to save as much money as possible.

So I think whilst that trend and that emergence of gamification is super interesting and very important and adds that element of fun and engagement. It’s really important that the level of reward matches the effort that customers have to go through and also making sure that companies are focusing a hell of a lot on those core experiences to ensure that they’re driving loyalty.

So yeah, loads of stuff going on at the moment. I think it’s a very interesting space to, to play in particularly within loyalty. So, yeah, gamification, but also making sure that customers really do feel valued given that the cost of living is higher than ever. And customers want to make sure they’re getting the best bang for their buck, right.

Charlie: Yeah, it’s a really hard balance to get right. I think, isn’t it? And I think what we’re also seeing in loyalty programs across the piece is a significant increase in active rates and a significant increase in engagement rates. And obviously that cost of living crisis is affecting consumers, but it’s also affecting brands and cost of goods and cost of supplies.

So I think that’s a really important thing that as an industry, we sit back and think about how do we make sure that we’re rewarding and recognizing our customers, but in a way that’s sustainable to the business. So no, I think everyone would agree with you that those are two kind of key trends for 2024, if not beyond.

Johnny, I know that VOXI Drop is a great program. I know how much you love VOXI Drop. 

Jonny: I do.

Charlie: And I’m sure all of our listeners today are going, I know exactly what the program is, but we might have one or two that don’t understand, you know, quite what is the program, how does it work and what people get? So that would be really interesting to hear from you. You know, what’s the kind of guide to VOXI Drop? Tell us about your program and what sets it apart from the rest. 

Jonny: Sure. So it is a customer exclusive surprise and delight loyalty program. We give freebies to our customers once a month in the form of a drop. And these products can range from beauty, confectionery, food related products, charity drops, whole heap of different types of products that customers can get.

But in essence, it’s a really super simple, easy to navigate loyalty program. Unlike, you know, other loyalty programs, we don’t ask customers to track their points, to stay with us for a certain amount of time, to unlock rewards through specific complex mechanics. You know, we give customers what they want through an easy, easy to navigate reward system.

The program is based on all based around Drop culture. So each month customers don’t know what’s coming. They don’t know what product they’re going to get. They don’t know what date it’s going to come. They don’t know what time it’s going to come. It’s all complete surprise. So it means that we get customers, you know, completely on edge for the whole month waiting to know what the Drop is.

You know, I’ve known in the past that customers have created group chats, you know, with their friends who also on VOXI to find out when the Drop goes live. We’ve even created a group chats with our agency previously, you know, to get our most loyal, our most engaged customers into a chat to give them a sneak preview on when the Drop is going to come.

So it really does create that buzz and that excitement because no one knows what’s coming besides us, obviously and it keeps everyone on their toes. But we run loads of cool partnerships. I’m previously, you know, with confectionery like Joe and Seth’s and beauty like Glossy Box. So yes really cool ones. And they’re all geared around, you know, Gen Z targeted rewards. 

Charlie: Oh, it’s awesome. And I think it’s such a cool program. I just love its positive disruption. You know, I love that you do it entirely through social media. I think, don’t you don’t have a big technology platform that kind of powers it.

And I think a lot of people, when they would start to think about, is it the right thing for my brand to launch a loyalty program? Sometimes get a bit scared about the scale of the infrastructure that is needed, but actually VOXI Drop, you’ve just taken that, you know, how do your audience engage? And actually that’s how you talk to them. And that surprise and deny nature is so lovely. 

Tell us about a couple of your favorite Drops. What are sort of one or two of the ones that you’ve worked on that you just think, Oh, wow, nailed it. That was a particularly good one. 

Jonny: So one that really stood out to me was probably our charity partnership that we ran back in November 2021.

So typically, as I mentioned, we run like a confectionary drop, a beauty drop. But we actually, for the first time, decided to run a charity partnership where actually we ask customers to donate to a charity on us for just one month. And we’ve seen a lot of insight around this to tell us that actually customers will engage with this and that, you know, they care about charities and particularly climate change charities as well. But given the fact that we’re giving freebies away every month and really cool freebies as well, we didn’t know how well this was going to go, but this really stood out to me because actually what we saw was that the redemption rate has surpassed some of our confectionery and beauty drops. And we saw really, really strong redemption rate. And actually people were super positive engaged on social as well. And they wanted to donate, you know, money on us. It’s one that really stuck to me because, you know, we just thought they all wanted the freebies, but actually they do care. And this partner was cool. It’s a really cool rainforest charity. 

Charlie: Yeah. That’s one of my favorite Drops, I think as well, because it’s lovely and that it plays to that human insight of what really matters to your audience. But it also plays really strongly to that brand insight and what matters to VOXI. And it felt really authentic to the ethos of the program as well, that actually we will give you Drops that matter to you. And we know that cool earth matters to you. So here’s a great opportunity. I think that’s an absolute classic personally. I’m also a huge fan of the the popcorn on the candy as well. I love those two. Those are all so great. 

And I think that, you know, that, that nature of the Drops and that they change all the time is makes it must make it a really exciting program to work on as well. You know, how do you identify what those Drops should be? You know, how do you get that right? 

Jonny: Yeah. So I mean, it’s really there’s a number of different things that we do. Really. We have a big insight team in Vodafone that gives us a load of insight to say, Hey, we know customers care about just eat discounts or they care about confectionary discounts.

But given the number of jobs that we’ve run now, you know, the program launching in 2019, we have so much insight to say that beauty jobs perform really well, confectionary jobs perform really well. And then we can translate all of that insight from, you know social sentiment, to redemption rates to how much we’ve spent with the partner to be able to translate all of that into our future roadmap to determine what it looks like. And obviously it’s based on what’s available in the market. And that’s where Amanda, you guys do such an amazing job to take that sort of insight and that thinking our side into a full yearly roadmap of what’s to come. 

Charlie: And what all those kind of cool Drops would be. Yeah, I love this program. It’s such an awesome brand. 

Matt, where on earth did the idea come from? Because I think, again, a bit like our conversation at the beginning on Amazon Prime, everyone would have said, oh, it’s just a subscription program. It’s not a loyalty program. And I’m sure there will be people listening all around the world going, hang on, so you just do a surprise and delight Drop once a month through social media. Is that really a loyalty program? Where did that idea come from for doing a loyalty program in that way? 

Matt: Yeah, sure. It’s a good question. It ends again, same with the previous question. I’m sure everybody already knows who VOXI is, but just in case there’s anybody listening who who doesn’t, VOXI is a youth brand and our target audience, a youth Gen Z in particular, and as I touched on before, right, one of the common themes that youth are always interested in is having something that’s fun and super engaging.

And when coming up with the concepts of VOXI Drop, we really wanted to try and tap into something that embraced elements of youth culture. So we were looking at, you know, what are our target audience into what is existing out there already that really aligns to their interest? And there are a couple of things that really sort of stood out fashion being one of them. And that’s where a lot of the element of drop culture started from whether it’s you know, limited edition trainers that are launching you know more and more. There are kind of fashion brands that are popping up, which solely market themselves on social media, for example, and because they’re smaller companies, they’ll often produce batches of clothing in, you know, smaller amounts and to create that buzz, they just do drops of launches, right? And, you know, they can accelerate that through countdown timers on their website or their pages or whatever it might be. 

And it all plays into that element of it’s, you know, it’s first come, first serve once it’s gone. And that really helps to tap into driving that high demand, driving that level of excitement and really trying to embrace that Drop culture that our target audience were already engaged with already. That was something that we massively wanted to tap into and that’s where the concept of Drop came from basically hence the name as well, right? 

So as Johnny said we don’t really give customers much warning about when we’re going to release a drop. They know that it comes every month But we don’t tell them when it’s going to be what it’s going to be and it does absolute wonders for us. We’ll tease the base just before we go live and to give them a heads up. But yeah loads of posts on social to get the word out there. 

And yeah off the back of it, we’re fortunate to see super high engagement, loads of tenure benefits off the back of it and generates that real buzz across social media. And it’s super unique in market. Again, just to your point, we wanted to do something that was quite disruptive, so. 

Charlie: It’s almost breaking the rules. I remember when we, you know, when VOXI Drop was recognized at the international loyalty awards for the loyalty redefined category, when you won that. It almost breaks every rule of loyalty, you know, be very clear with your members, what they need to do, be very clear with your members, what they’re going to get, make sure that the value exchange is really, you know, calculable and that actually can work out. And it’s like, actually, no, with this audience, a totally different approach has been so effective.

You know, and it’s interesting, you know, how successful that has been. And also it’s not been a short term success. As you’ve said, you know, this program has been going for years and it just gets bigger and, you know, better every year. 

Matt: Yeah. And again, I think for me, it just massively comes into understanding your target audience and who your customers are and embracing what they’re already into.

And I guess to go back to your previous question about favorite Drops, you know, for me, one of my favorite jobs was last summer. We did a festival focused Drop and the girl in my team who was working on it at the time, she was like, you know, we’re gonna have festival tickets and we’re gonna, we should do bucket hats. Everybody loves a bucket hand. I know this is audio only, but I’m not quite our target audience. I’m not a million miles away, but I’m not our target audience. And I’m thinking.

Charlie: No comment. 

Matt: Do we wanna do bucket hats? And she was like, yeah, no we should do cal print bucket hats. They’re gonna go down the storm. And we went with it and they were, it was one of the most, we successful and best performing jobs we’ve had. So, yeah, it all goes back to understanding your target audience, right. And embracing the stuff that you know, that’s going to be appealing and attractive to them.

Charlie: But I think there’s a level of bravery in that as well, isn’t there? Like, as you say, Hey, we’ve got this great idea for bucket hats. Let’s do it. And how brilliant that you built a program where actually those decisions can be made like that. You know, we’ve got an insight. We’ve got an execution. Let’s go for it. And I think that’s probably something that a lot of our listeners would be really inspired by. 

Matt: And that’s one of the strengths of working at VOXI. You know, our target audience is Gen Z and a massive chunk of our team is Gen Z. And there’s no better way to get into the mindset of your target audience by having them actually in your team. So, yeah, one of the good parts about working at VOXI. 

Charlie: Yeah. And one of the great examples of actually, you know, let’s go for it and let’s, you know, just see what works and see what doesn’t. And obviously every month you learn what works and what doesn’t. 

I know that brand partners are obviously a big part of the VOXI Drop program, and that’s a big bit of how you identify what your audience love, you know, Johnny, talk to us a bit more about the brand partnership side of the program again.

Jonny:  Sure.

Charlie: Because this is another trend that we’ve seen that has exploded in the British loyalty market in the last kind of couple of years, you know, actually how important are they in your program? And what are some of your favorite brand partners that you’ve worked with? 

Jonny: Sure. So, like I mentioned earlier, we use brand partners every month to give customers freebies from, you know, Costa Coffees, Jones Popcorn, GLOSSYBOXES, for example. And we ensure, you know, all of our partners are geared towards Gen Z. So, they’re relevant and people are going to go mad and talk about it on social. 

But these are really, you know, they’re essential to build brand love, to make customers feel connected to our brand. Because whilst we’ll want to believe the fact that all of our props are, you know, are amazing and giving customers, you know, a data boost is going to keep them for longer.

We need to actually, we are reliant on other brands to be able to, you know, keep it exciting for customers. And unlike other big retailers, you know, the Tesco’s of the world that can offer more you know, points in exchange for other products. We only have a limited availability of products. So actually we are solely reliant on these other partners to keep it exciting.

But we’ve seen that when we do find the right fit and we find the partner that is completely Gen Z, geared toward Gen Z, that actually we have you know, amazing things that come out of the campaign. You know, loads of people talk about us on social, they tell their friends to join. We can start to use the program as an acquisition driver for us.

Standout campaigns have definitely been, you know, the GLOSSYBOXES, Joan Seth’s, Blondie’s Kitchen, which we ran as a Valentine’s drop. Last month was a particularly exciting one. You know, we do see those confectionery and beauty drops to be particular standouts. 

And as Matt mentioned a minute ago, you know, our merch Drops as well, where we can actually use the program to give freebies to our customers. And then our customers become ambassadors for us wearing, you know, the festival hat, bucket hats at festivals, wearing our tote bags to pride month. You know, we have loads of cool drops that actually allow our customers to be you know, those real advocates of the brand and drive awareness. 

Charlie: And that’s such a lovely thing. I think that we’ve seen in loyalty programs as well, that constant focus on how do I retain and engage and keep my customers, but an increasing awareness in the market that actually your loyalty program can be a great play for bringing new customers in. And obviously, you know, Make Me Love VOXI, Make Me Talk About VOXI is such a huge driver for the program.

Jonny: Absolutely.

Charlie: And engaging, you know, Gen Z, you know, they were held up for years as impossible to get into loyalty programs. You know, we’ve tracked the British loyalty engagement since 2018. And actually this year is the first year where we’ve seen a sort of a significant uptake in Gen Z in loyalty program membership. You know, you are one of the leading programs for loyalty for Gen Z. You know, what advice would you give our listeners? You know, what should brands and programs be thinking? Thinking about that is different when they’re trying to engage a Gen Z audience. 

Jonny: I bucketed it into three main points. So I think around trends, tastes, and behavioral habits.

So Gen Z we know are completely unique in what they like, where they spend their money, what they like to do, and how they like to be spoken to as well. So we’ll kick off with trends and then taste and behavioral habits. So looking at trends, you know Gen Z have less disposable income, more than, you know, less than any other demographic. So this really influences the way that we run our loyalty program. 

For example, we once tested whether we should be running postage and packaging for our customers. So typically on a monthly basis, we give our customers the opportunity to claim a reward and we give them postage for free. However, I thought, you know, we want to stretch our budget even further. We want more rewards to our customers. Therefore, could we ask customers to pay a pound to get their really cool reward? And actually we noticed, given the fact that we have less disposable income, redemption rate fell off a cliff. So this is one of the trends that we saw that actually, you know, customers want to get their freebies, but they don’t want to have to work for it. And they don’t want to have to pay for it more importantly. So this is a really cool learning that we’ve taken back and rolled out throughout the program. 

We also know, I mean, in terms of tastes that Gen Z, they’re more likely to, alongside millennials, be a vegan more than any other demographic. So, things factoring in when you’re speaking to a Gen Z audience is around taste. So, actually, how can we actually run rewards that speak to that audience and we offer, you know, vegan confection products other over milk based alternatives. So that’s an interesting one. 

And then finally looking at behavioral habits. So we know that Gen Z, they live on social, which is part of our proposition of unlimited social media. And we know that they want to be spoken to free, really invasive forms of communication. So this is one that we’ve just rolled out into the new drop strategy for the next year is actually how do we speak to our audience in the best possible way? So through invasive forms of communication, you know, they want to find out about when the latest drop goes live. They want to be able to claim because you know the popularity of the program. Our codes go so quickly. So how can we roll out, you know, MMS is or in that notifications so we can actually speak to them in a really effective way so that they can hear from us and they don’t miss out on the Drop. 

So I think definitely trends, tastes, behavioral habits, the probably most important things you need to review when speaking about to a Gen Z audience. Yeah, they’ll be my top three. 

Charlie: That’s a great answer. That’s what we’ll be putting in the commentary for the podcast as well to get people to kind of hook in and listen because I think it’s really interesting to think about those three things. But then to hear that context and how you apply it to the program and the audience is actually where the magic is. That’s great. 

Jonny: Exactly. 

Charlie: We’ve talked a lot about the successes of the program, the opportunities of the audience, but actually I think, you know, we’ve got to recognize that it’s not an easy thing to do. It’s not easy to engage Gen Z, it’s not easy to be a disruptive program, and it’s not easy to effectively have shaken up all the rules of loyalty and built something that works.

So, Matt, I wanted to ask you, you know, how important is VOXI Drop to VOXI? And also, what are some of those big challenges that you faced and how are you addressing those? 

Matt: Yeah, a hundred percent. I mean, so VOXI is a sub brand of Vodafone and it’s loyalty and our loyalty program is very important to us. And we’re a customer first company. We want to be giving customers the best experiences wherever possible. And yeah, first and foremost, I mean, for me as a consumer, but also as a marketing professional, I solely believe that recognizing loyalty and rewarding it is just the right thing to do. Right. 

But yeah, you know, as I mentioned we’re in a cost of living crisis. Customers are trying to find those best deals. And as Johnny just said, the youth segment has that lowest level of discretionary spend, but also they’ve got massively high expectations, right? And quite rightly. So they want to be recognized.

So, yeah, from a business perspective, loyalty is important because it’s the right thing to do. And recognizing that is the right thing to do. But again, our program of VOXI Drop, it creates that clear point of differentiation for us as a brand within the market. It’s disruptive. It’s a reason to come to VOXI and all of that and all of that sort of thing.

And again, we know that customers who engage with the program have a higher tenure. They’re more likely to stay with us for longer, spend a few more quid with us. They’re more likely to tell their friends all about us and, you know, encourage that word of mouth. And even just being aware of Drop, we can see from you know, when we talk to our customer base, even if they haven’t directly engaged with it, we’re still going to see benefits in some of those areas.

So really, really important to us, not just because it helps us from a commercial perspective, we’re a business at the end of the day, but, you know, recognizing and rewarding loyalty and being customer centric really aligns to the core brand values of Vodafone and VOXI. So highly, highly important.

And I guess to answer the second point of your question around some of the challenges that we face. I feel like I’m banging a drum here and sound like a broken record, but again, going back to the cost of living point and we’ve seen massive inflation over the years. And this is definitely hurting us as consumers. You know, the money in our pocket doesn’t goes as far as it used to, but on the flip side, it’s massively impacting brands and businesses as well. Right. And the cool thing that we try to do with drop is work with some smaller and more niche brands, brands that really aligned to our values, but also the values of youth and target the same customs that we want to. And that’s great because it opens up new opportunities for us with partnerships and all of that cool stuff. 

And the challenge there is that when we’re working with slightly smaller businesses, like everybody. But they probably feel the impact of it more. These cost increases that we’ve seen over the years are really hurting all areas of the supply chain and definitely seeing that with some of the parts that we work with.

So, I guess trying to tackle some of those cost increases is quite tricky. But also, in addition to that, as I mentioned before, we really want to be a customer centric company, and we do that really, really well and focusing on good customer experiences is a massive focus for us. 

And it’s a really good problem to have, but the biggest challenge that we face in the not too distant past was that we just have such high demand for Drop. That’s created instability with partner websites. We’ve had so many customers flood to our site to try and get their hands on a drop because there’s that much excitement and buzz around it, that at times we’ve struggled to handle that capacity. It’s, you know, like when Glastonbury tickets go live. Everybody wants one. Everybody rushes to the site and then you can’t get on it. So it’s super frustrating, which from a customer perspective really, really annoying, and again, back to our point of, we want to deliver great experiences for our customers. 

It’s far from ideal, but again, it’s a great problem to have because we’ve created something which is super, super popular and everybody wants to get their hands on it. I’d much rather be tackling these types of challenges rather than, oh, we’ve got this proposition that nobody cares about. 

Charlie: Nobody wants.

Matt: To get anybody to engage with it. So, yeah, definitely inflationary costs, but also making sure that we’re delivering positive experiences for our customers. And yeah. 

Charlie: And staying as popular as you are. I think that’s a really interesting thing to think about, not victim of your own success, but it’s how do you then take what you’ve learned and look to move forwards. And I know, obviously with a Gen Z program, obviously in telco, you’re always looking at, well, what’s happening now, but you’re also looking ahead, you know, what’s actually coming next for the program. 

Matt: Yeah, sure.

Charlie: What do the future priorities look like as we kind of round out towards the end, it’d be. really interesting to hear, you know, Jonny, what is coming next for VOXI Drop? What are those next big innovations that you’re looking at? 

Jonny: Yeah, so what’s coming next in the program? So we have recently just walked through the new VOXI Drop strategy and there’s a load of cool stuff coming up including the new roadmap of partners. But I think it’s three sort of main things that we’re going to be doing over the next year is focusing around new activations. So I know we’ve spoken about it before, but around gamification. So what can we do to engage even more of our base? We know how popular Drop is already, but there’s customers that never engaged with us. They’ve never claimed. What can we do to try and get them in and claiming? 

Also around our lab Bible series. So continuing the amazing partnerships we already have at VOXI with lab Bible to engage, you know, customers on the street and then translate that into engagement on social with our catch the drop series to win prizes again, as I mentioned earlier, new channel mix. So how can we engage customers with more invasive comms, get those customers that have never claimed to Drop and get them claiming to ultimately boost proper awareness and redemption rate. 

And then solving all of our customer experience issues. So, alongside Vodafone, there’s been a really strong customer experience drive. So looking at, you know, our site partner sites, stability, our own site stability, we’re driving so much traffic on that day. When drop goes live, what can we do to make sure that we’ve got everything in place to ensure that customers can claim quickly, effectively, and then come back the next month and claim again.

And then finally, I think it’s just around all of our partnerships. So you know, continuing to use all of our amazing partnerships, you know, that really connect to a Gen Z audience that in line to, you know, unisex appeal and then also on the back of that, you know, what can we do for our partners to ensure they’re getting the exposure that they want to continue working with us and we can have a really strong mutual relationship.

Charlie: I think that’s one of the things that I really admire in the program as well, and particularly in that focus that Matt was talking about in terms of working with some of those smaller brand partners, you know, it’s such an effective, mutually beneficial opportunity as well. It’s great. So if you are a small brand and you do appeal to Gen Z and you want to get in touch and you’re listening, then please do get in touch.

Matt: Please do. 

Charlie:  And we’ll be sharing at the end of the podcast the details doing that. 

Jonny: Drop me a message. 

Charlie: Exactly. Drop, get in touch with Jonny. He’s really keen to hear from you. 

Jonny: I am.

Charlie: I’m, and at this point, is there anything else, Tony, you’d like to share with our listeners? And then I’m gonna ask Matt the same question as well, but is there anything else that you think we should round out on?

Jonny: I think it’s really driving the message to any brands out there that are listening. Yeah, please get in touch. It would be really great to hear from you. Like I said, we’re looking for a mutually beneficial relationship where we can offer you brand exposure. So if you are listening, give us a message and we could see if we can pull you into a Drop in the not too distant future.

Charlie: I love that. A podcast for partnerships as well as talking about loyalty. That’s brilliant. 

Jonny: Absolutely.

Charlie: And what about you, Matt? Is there anything else you’d really like to share with our listeners? 

Matt: Yeah, I’d say probably the key thing for me more broadly talking about loyalty is that just keeping in mind, we’ve obviously got a rewards program that does really well for us, but there’s loads that you can do within the loyalty space outside of a big, shiny and sexy rewards program, right?

And the key thing for me is, making sure that you’re focusing on your core product and your core experience. And you’re really understanding your target customer to ensure that you’re delivering those positive experiences consistently. And, you know, at the end of the day, you can have the best rewards program in the world.

But if you’re not focusing on your customer and if you’re not providing them with those consistently strong experiences, your rewards program is irrelevant, right? So yeah, think about loyalty from the customer perspective. It’s not just about rewards. It’s not just about freebies because yeah, it’s that consistent experience which drives loyalty at the end of the day.

Charlie: And I think that consistency is so important, isn’t it? It’s the difference between loyalty marketing and a lot of other disciplines. We’re not looking at what happens in the next week or the next two weeks. It’s actually what happens over the lifetime of that relationship and how you keep kind of growing and building it.

So that’s a lovely rounding out thought from both of you on the one hand, get in touch if you’re a brilliant brand partner. And on the other hand, make sure if you’re running a program that you are consistent and customer centric in everything that you do. Well, look, thank you both so much for your time, for your experience today, and for sharing those stories of what it’s like to run such a cool kind of program for Gen Z.

I’m sure people are going to want to reach out to understand more about how they can build programs like VOXI and maybe become part of VOXI Drop as well. Matt, how should they get in touch with you? What’s the best way? And then Johnny, I’ll ask you the same question. 

Matt: Yeah, pretty standard answer, to be honest, but LinkedIn is always the good one, so.

Charlie: Great. 

Matt: Yeah, I definitely say reach out via LinkedIn. 

Charlie: Brilliant. And for you, Johnny? 

Jonny: I’m going to match that response as well, LinkedIn. 

Charlie: Super. And what we’ll do is we’ll put both those links in the notes for the podcast so that you can get a hold of Johnny and Matt really easily. And all that’s left for me to say is, again, thank you so much. What a great episode, what a brilliant story, and what an amazing program. Really looking forward to seeing what comes next. Thank you very much. And that is goodbye from Let’s Talk Loyalty. 

Jonny: Thanks so much, Charlie. 

Matt: Yeah, thanks for having us. 

Paula: Thank you so much for listening to this episode of Let’s Talk Loyalty. If you’d like us to send you the latest shows each week, simply sign up for the Let’s Talk Loyalty newsletter on letstalkloyalty.com, and we’ll send our best episodes straight to your inbox. And don’t forget that you can follow Let’s Talk Loyalty on any of your favorite podcast platforms, and of course we’d love for you to share your feedback and reviews. Thanks again for supporting the show.