#239: Hong Kong's Leading Loyalty & Lifestyle Platform - Yuu Rewards

Yuu Rewards is a leading loyalty program launched in Hong Kong in 2020 which prides itself on its innovative digital-first strategy.

Created initially as a coalition programme, Yuu Rewards has proven to be a compelling proposition for the digitally-savvy consumers that Asia is renowned for.

Now two years old, I’m today joined for a second conversation about Yuu Rewards by COO Mark Sage, who explains how the programme has grown, offering compelling new services, and is now firmly established as a market-leading super-app with numerous new and exciting benefits to users – such as industry-leading ecommerce capabilities at its core.

In this conversation, we also discuss the power of *collectibles* as a tool to build consumer loyalty and engagement both online and offline.

Show Notes:
  1. Yuu Rewards
  2. Mark Sage
  3. Yuu To Me
  4. Yuu To Me Ad
  5. #61: Yuu Rewards, Hong Kong’s New Coalition Programme

Audio Transcript

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


This show is sponsored by Sonder. The global authority on owned media valuation and leverage. Whether you are in travel, financial services, retail, or telecommunications loyalty programs like yours are typically generating $70 million per year in owned media value. Visit sondermedia.com to find out how you can unlock the value of your owned media. Sonder, the global authority for owned media.


Hello, and welcome to this episode of Let’s Talk Loyalty featuring a market-leading loyalty program called Yuu, which is based in Hong Kong and which has achieved extraordinary success since it’s launched in 2020 created initially as a coalition program, Yuu rewards was built and launched as a digital first program. Perfect for the digitally savvy consumers that Asia is renowned for. Two years on I’m joined again today by chief operating officer Mark Sage. Who explains how the program has continued to grow and thrive, offering compelling new services and is now firmly established as a market-leading super app with numerous new and exciting benefits to users with industry-leading eCommerce capabilities at its core. In today’s conversation. We also discuss the power of collectibles as a tool to build consumer loyalty and engagement, both online and offline. Please do enjoy today’s fascinating episode with Mark Sage from Yuu Hong Kong. 


So, Mark Sage, welcome back to Let’s Talk Loyalty. 


Thank you Paula, It is great to be back. 


Oh, it’s fantastic. Mark. I was looking back. It was November, 2020. You were on this show with me before. Um, at the time you were COO of Yuu Rewards, and obviously, there’s been changed in the branding, uh, but an incredible journey that you’re on with this, uh, wonderful program and platform, um, in the Hong Kong market. So before we get into talking all about you. Please tell me, first of all, what would you say right now in this kind of day and age? What would you say is your favorite loyalty program or proposition that you’re seeing?


Yeah. Interesting question. Um, I think, you know, there’s obviously a lot of change going on generally in the market. Um, and, and I, you know, we’ll talk about our change a little bit more, but, um, I think, you know, look at what say Woolies are doing down in Australia. Um, you know, their, their program has always been quite interesting. They use a lot of personalization. Uh, it has a lot of similarities, I guess, in, in terms of, you know, the market that, that Yuu is in cuz we’re obviously, you know, a grocery led program as well. So it’s, it’s one, I keep an eye on. Sure. Uh, you know, I think their latest innovation around payments is, is quite interesting because. You know, we, we all want to try and link payments at loyalty more tightly. Um, you know, we, we do, we do it in the Yuu program as well, where you can use your credit card as a, in essence, as a loyalty token. Um, I think what woo is have done though, is, is quite interesting where they’ve managed to get, you know, almost a single tap or a single scan. So it’s always a challenge when, when you’re doing loyalty, a point of sale to, uh, to be able to get the loyalty ID and the payment details, because typically the, that comes at the end of a transaction and you’ve closed a basket. And you can’t apply coupons and things to, to, to give it like member-based pricing or anything else. You know, what willies have done is moved it right to the front of the process. So as a member, you, you, you scan that QR code and it knows who you are. It knows that linked payment, it applies, the loyalty idea applies the loyalty value to the basket. And obviously at the end of it, it will automatically pay if, if, if that’s what you’ve set up. So I think it’s a really interesting, uh, proposition that they’re brought to market quite recently. Um, yeah, and certainly something, you know, that, that we’re keeping a, a close eye. 


Wow. Love that one, Mark. Yeah. I mean, that takes all the boxes in my mind, in terms of, you know, really being customer-led you know, with the idea of simplification, uh, being loyal to your member, your customer, like giving them the absolute, every reason to give you, I guess, particularly sensitive data like, uh, payment details. So I haven’t looked at the Woolies, myself, mark, but a super interesting idea. 


Yeah, exactly. And, and as you say, I mean, it is about that customer experience. That’s, you know, people are part of a loyalty program, not just because of points, but, but also because it, it makes the customer experience easier. And I think anything you can do to facilitate that is great. 


Yeah. Yeah. I think it comes back to basics really, doesn’t it, you know, like make my life better, um, in ways that I can actually understand, appreciate, and actually kind of justify to myself and hopefully, I suppose, tell other people as well, Mark, because I think as marketer, as we know, it’s very expensive to go on an acquisition journey all of the time. So I guess if you’ve got that, um, advocacy, um, that almost you’re guaranteed success. So that’s definitely a, a key success criteria. And one I see coming through in everything that you’re doing with Yuu. So, There’s been so much going on. I love following your LinkedIn postmark, um, for people who haven’t heard our previous episode, I’ll make sure we do link to it of course, in the show notes, it’s, letstalkloyalty/61, super easy. And that was just after you launched the Yuu rewards proposition there in Hong Kong. Now, here we are in 2022, uh, middle of summer, you’ve passed 4 million members and really made some dramatic enhancements Mark. So I almost dunno where to start in terms of, um, asking you what the journey’s been like for the last 18 months, but where would you like to start? What do you think is the single biggest thing that has happened since we last spoke? 


Yeah, I think as you say, I mean, a lot, a lot has changed a lot has gone into, into the overall proposition. But I think the, the biggest thing is that kind of shift from, uh, a pure-play loyalty proposition to more of a, more of a services proposition. Um, so, you know, as, as we’ve done quite recently, you would’ve seen in the news, you know, we we’ve launched our, our eCommerce, um, within, within the Yuu app. Yeah. Um, that’s running alongside the loyalty proposition overall. So it is that movement, I guess, of, of being a, a kind of, you know, the traditional point is prizes program for want of a, a better term or, you know, classic coalition program to really starting to stand out, to be, you know, something that’s, that’s helping our members. To just, you know, eat and live better, um, you know, giving them, you know, more services, more capabilities, um, and getting closer to them as a, as an overall brand, I guess. So, you know, that shift is, has happened. Like you say, in a very, a very quick time. I mean, we were, we actually launched the, the eCommerce in October last year. So, you know, only 12 months after we chatted that we’d essentially added in, uh, into the app, these eCommerce services. As well as insurance have insurance is in there as well. We don’t talk about that much, but you know, it’s also there as well as one of our key capabilities. Yeah. Um, and all of that kind of came through in the next 12 months. So it’s, it’s been a, a busy, a busy year, so to speak as we, as we brought all that online.


Absolutely. And that is, is, is hugely dramatic Mark, as you’ve said. So it’s one thing to build a classic coalition program and clearly Yuu rewards. In its first iteration already had an extraordinary breadth of partnerships.


You know, everything from Ikea to 7-eleven to, I know your huge pharmacy chain there, Mannings, which is the dominant player in Hong Kong as well, saw some wonderful new partnerships being announced with Shell coming in recently. But I guess what I’m curious about is. Would you, would you say that, that, uh, shift from the classic coalition through to this almost super App positioning and proposition, would that have been the intention all along mark? Or was that just the opportunity that emerged, I guess because the loyalty was so successful? 


I, I think it’s always been an opportunity to, to get, uh, or, or an aim to get the brands, uh, kind of working closer together, you know, from an e-commerce perspective, etc. The, the, the idea I think of, um, as you tell me under the super app piece, um, was, you know, there around, you know, pre-launch and launch, you know, was certainly something, um, that was, you know, talked about. Yeah. You can see it. Other markets we’d go Jack and grab and people like that. Yeah. Um, Yeah, for us, it really became real in the sense of, you know, something that we were starting to pursue then, you know, early in, in the following year after launch. Um, so you know, it, it made a lot of sense and it’s something we talked around, but then, you know, turning that into an actual, you know, strategy we’re gonna execute on, um, You know, that then came through after, after seeing this, the, the overall success, I think, of the, of the loyalty program and, and, and how well that was working. Uh, it makes a lot of sense to, to kind of build on that because you, we get super high engagement, um, you know, through our mobile app. And, uh, you know, it makes sense to, to add more value for our members in, in that respect. 


For sure. Yeah. And I was looking at your post just describing it, Mark. So again, particularly because we’ve got this global audience, I suppose, in, in let’s call it phase one, I suppose Yuu Rewards achieved mass market acceptance, amazingly high digital engagement market, leading loyalty penetration. And now two years on, it’s almost supercharged with the addition of your e-commerce. You’ve got the hot food delivery and quick commerce as well. I’m not sure if that’s also the same as e-commerce, but a huge amount of, I guess, um, technical evolution, as well as, I guess, consumers bringing them on the journey. So how would you say that’s gone down with customers? Because I know we talked about. You know, the importance of transitioning, the customer’s understanding of yeah. Okay, great. It’s an earn-and-burn program. I understand loyalty. So that’s what Yuu Rewards is and was, but now actually it’s an e-commerce proposition.


So I’d love just to hear like how that journey has been from your perspective and how you think the, the members are finding it. 


Yeah, I think it it’s exactly that a journey. Um, you know, in one sense, as you say, you know, we launched as a loyalty program, um, and, and that’s how a lot of people would, would see us that that’s what they’re using us on a daily basis for. Mm. Um, in a sense. You know, we, we’re almost also a kind of media platform, I guess, you know, we, we get a lot of people browsing our offers and looking through and so the opportunity to convert people from a browse behavior to a buyer behavior is, is something that we can build upon. Um, but it is almost no different to, you know, advertising on Facebook. Um, you know, just because somebody’s in your app for a, for a particular reason and, you know, collecting points or, or redeeming doesn’t automatically mean that they’re also gonna be your eCommerce customer, you know, you need to. You need to work like, like you would in any other platform. So, you know, you have to, you have to have great deals. You have to have a great customer proposition. Uh, you have to, you know, make it attractive, uh, to people to, to kind of join up. Uh, you have to do the marketing, you know, you have to do the heavy lifting to, to do it. So it isn’t, it isn’t that kind of slam dunk. You put a button on, then people start buying. Um, but equally, you know, creating a great customer experience and having, you know, really good marketing behind it is, is crucial to yeah. To converting that behavior. And as I say, it, it is our journey. Um, you know, EV every, every, every day, every week we, we get more and more people coming in having a look around and then coming in and, and converting and buying and, and then starting to build that behavior. Yeah. Um, but it, but it’s not an automatic thing. And I think, you know, that’s, as I said, I mean, we launched eCommerce October last year. Mm, uh, we then did a bit of online promotion of it, um, to kind of shout about it a little bit, but then this, uh, you know, the big promotion, the big bank campaign, really for us, uh, last, last month in may, um, you know, that was when it needed to become a household name. Um, because you like, most people, you, you go in and out of you say an app, you don’t necessarily notice things, you know, you can become a bit snow-blind to yeah. To messages. That you see on, on different platforms. And so, you know, you really need to cut through that. And that’s what the campaign was all about, was creating that cut-through. Mm. Um, so that people really understood that, you know, this exists, this, this eCommerce is now in there. It’s, it’s a thing in this Yuu To Me proposition. Yeah. Um, you know, and, and, and then that’s really helped then. To kind of supercharge, uh, both the engagement, but also, you know, as you’d expect the kind of uplifting in actual sales, uh, coming through from an e-commerce perspective.


Yeah. And I do love the, the creative for you, to me, mark, as much as I do miss the super cheesy, but incredibly compelling launch, uh, music that you had, which I remember somebody described as almost like, um, like a Cliff Richard style, um, lead, uh, brand, obviously a huge personality there in the Hong Kong market and you’ve updated and refreshed all of that with, you know, whole new song, um, and the positioning around it as well. And I’ll make sure to link to it in the show notes. But even though I don’t obviously speak the language Mark, it was really clear that, you know, there’s a wonderful family in Hong Kong. Um, they’re using Yuu To Me and everything is being delivered immediately. So I was very impressed, actually, that in a very short piece of creative, I think it was only a 32nd kind of ad. As I said, I don’t speak the language that you were able to communicate that Yuu To Me proposition. And I think you said to me, last time we spoke as well, mark, that the level of investment above the line for this launch was actually as big as your original launch for the entire loyalty program.  


Yeah. I mean, it was, it was a big investment, I think, uh, you know, from a marketing point of view, Ronald and the team, uh, kind of lead the marketing side have done an amazing job with it because it is, it’s a very hard proposition to, to talk to, you know, we have, yeah, we have a lot of different e-commerce options. As you mentioned, we’ve got hot food. From like KFC, we’ve got, you know, quick commerce, which is kind of, you know, under 60-minute delivery for groceries. Okay. We’ve got e-commerce, which is scheduled, you know, next day, uh, etc. Mm. Um, and trying to communicate that all of that is available and it’s all available in an app. Yeah. Um, You know, is, is a big set of messages to try and get across. And so, you know, I think, you know, the way that they’ve done the creative yeah. Um, to bring that together. Yeah. You know, the choice of song, like you say, a cut-through. I mean, it’s interesting that, you know, these are essentially additional rather than the new, I guess, because you know, the, the Yuu Rewards piece is still there. Um, you know, we still have Yuu Rewards that the kind of the, the original you song and that side of it is still yeah. A very important part of the overall proposition. But Yuu To Me is a, is a separate thing. In that sense. We want people to realize that it, that it’s, that it exists as a, as a, as a brand almost. Yeah. And so having, having different talents and a different song allows us to kind of have that message and, and, and get that cut through. Yeah. Um, And, and yeah, you know, it’s a, it’s a big-budget launch. Um, because, you know, as I say, you need to hit the market so that people will have that kind of brand recognition. Totally. So that when they now see the logo in the app, they actually understand what it is. Uh, and so if they, they are in the market for, for e-commerce, you know, they, they can, they can understand that, that Yuu To Me button cause again, you, it’s hard to communicate in the app or the proposition in a button. Totally. You almost needs, you need to get that out into, into the. The kind of understanding of the, of the general consumer base. Mm. So that when they see the logo, they, they now have a meaning behind the logo. Mm. Um, and so, and so that, that, that’s the work that, you know, the team have done and, and it’s ongoing. I mean, you may have seen some of the, the smaller videos that, that they’ve done, but, you know, they’ve got some, you know, kind of famous talent within Hong Kong that they’ve. They’ve mocked up as almost little puppets and it’s like a stock motion, style, uh, superhero mini-films, you know, it’s using just different methods to, to create that interest. Um, and hopefully some, some varieties to the, to the content. Yeah. But just to make it stand out and be noticed, you know, that’s running. Yeah. You know, hear it, but it is a different campaign, you know? Yeah. When we, when we launched Yuu Rewards, you know, we were coming into a market with, with nothing essentially. So you’re starting from ground zero. You’ve got no. No members, essentially in your program, you really need to get your brand known. And so, you know, it was big above the line campaigns. It was big jumbo screens in, in central areas. It was like the Cross Harbor tunnel, which is kind of one of the main therapists through Hong Kong. Um, you know, you couldn’t miss the big brand. It was on, you know, trams and buses and everything. Um, Now it’s, it’s slightly different shape of campaign. So, you know, we still have a, Yuu To Me tram running up and down, which is always quite interesting to see, but, uh, it’s, it’s more, you know, it’s on the side of minibus, which are going off into slightly more, uh, outlying areas because ultimately, you know, the customers that are gonna be using e-commerce whilst they, they may live in the center, they’re also gonna be living in some of the villages and some of the, you know, the, the different areas of, of, um, residential areas, where it makes actually a lot of sense, because, you know, they may not have a, a grocery store right next door to them. And it’s, it’s, it’s a bigger trip. So how you get the message out there and, and the same for the online piece, you know, there’s a lot more, that’s gone online now from a, from an advertising, you know, social media, etc, um, to really get that kind of ongoing, uh, reach into the customer base. You know, that’s who we’re talking to. It, it’s, it’s people who are, you know, comfortable, online, comfortable shopping online. Um, you know, we’re trying to, we’re trying to bring that audience through. So it’s, it’s much more about where our audience sits. Yeah. Uh, is where the investment I guess is going in it, but, but it still has that big above-the-line element to it. To make sure that it’s still got that kind of brand recognition. So, you know, I’ll go on the MTR, I’ll see it playing on a video war. When we launched, we were on the front of, you know, all the newspapers. So, you know, we’ve done the kind of classic piece to do the big bang in terms of the brand itself. But now the ongoing campaign is really to make sure we’re reaching all the different areas where it’s, you know, the main audience is.


Yeah. Yeah, no, it’s an important distinction, Mark. I, I do like that because we all know of course the, the, the use case about loyalty and that was your starting point, but the eCommerce use case is actually important to distinguish as a separate, compelling benefit, because I think that’s an entirely different mass-market proposition that as you said, your creative team have done a phenomenal job in terms of being super clear about that. So, Actually bringing people in for that reason, perhaps they may get involved with the rewards piece, but actually, maybe they’ll just be eCommerce customers. So, so I really love the, um, the scale of what you’re doing. And even that piece about getting more into residential and rural areas, as you said, it’s a whole other audience and a, a whole other opportunity to continue what I think already is you’re the number one app. If I’m right in Hong Kong already, aren’t you? 


Uh, we, we were obviously it chops and changes depending on, uh, depending what’s going on. But I think from a, from a, certainly from a loyalty app, yes. I mean over 4 million people, we’re, you know, we are one of the biggest, um, kind of mobile properties, I guess, in, in Hong Kong. Super. Um, so from an installation point of view yes. You know, where we’re kind of almost everybody’s phone. 


Oh, my God. Amazing, amazing. The other really fun thing that I saw you doing Mark. And I think I said to you, I haven’t seen done anywhere else, although I’m sure it does exist, but it’s the whole idea around, I think WhatsApp stickers and, you know, I, I just wanna get a sense of exactly what you’ve been doing with that. And I think what you explained to me is that this taps into, you know, a mentality around, um, collectibles. Which, um, certainly in Hong Kong and I think in lots of countries around the world, you know, whether it’s, you know, a family or, or, you know, just even a restaurant proposition, the idea of collectibles is something that drives loyalty in a completely different way. So I think you have the benefit of both the, the physical, um, experience with that, which you can maybe tell us a bit about, and also trying it in digital format with these, um, message stickers. So love to just get a sense of the collectibles piece so far, I know it’s early in your journey with this piece at the moment.  


Yeah, it’s an it’s really interesting space. I mean, as you say, I mean, it’s, it’s not unique to Hong Kong, but I think it it’s certainly strong in, in Hong Kong in the sense of, you know, people do really like the, the kind of character-based collectibles. So, you know, uh, I’ve kind of, uh, convenience banner 7-Eleven, There’s a lot of, um, uh, rewards, you know, like the stamp collecting type rewards that they would’ve done in-store, uh, for, for quite a long time. And it’s, it’s generally branded goods. Um, so it might be San Rio characters. Um, and, and it could be anything, it might be plates or cups or, you know, anything of that nature um, and, and people love it. They love the characters that, that, that they have on there. They, they like the products, it could be like mini bags and, and all sorts of stuff. And so what we’ve done is, you know, working with 7-Eleven, and tapped into some of that. So. At a, at a physical level, you know, you can use your, uh, you can use your viewpoints to, to redeem for those collectibles and they they’re always super popular. Mm. Um, because there’s, what’s clever about them is the randomness to them. So generally you don’t know what you’re getting, so you, you know, you you’ll redeem for it and you’ll get a box and it could be one of four or five characters say, OK. Um, you, you know, you look at something like San Rio, you know, you could get a Hello Kitty, if you really like, Hello Kitty, but you could also get a melody or, or one of the other characters. And so, because of that random. It makes it fun, but also if you are, if you’re after a particular character, you’re gonna have to come again. You’re have to try and redeem again. So there’s a, there’s an element of, of kind of, you know, loose gamification, but you know, in the sense of, yeah, that randomness adds, adds fun to it. Um, so. So now like that. Yeah, exactly. So we can do a points redemption as well, which, which is, you know, works really, really well. And it’s, it’s a really strong proposition. Yeah. And so we’ve just dabbled a little bit so far with, with the sticker side of it, but, you know, we did for, for Christmas and for Chinese new year, we did sticker packs for WhatsApp. Um, we’ve got the capability in the app to kind of issue those, uh, directly from the app. Mm. Um, and, and they work, you know, they work really well. I mean, when we had those running, you know, we were the number one sticker in Hong Kong, uh, for that kind of week or whatever that we, we kind of launched them. Yeah. Um, and they are very popular because again, it’s, it’s fun. You can trade it with your friends, you know, you can send it, you know, the sticker to your friends to, to, to play with. And they generally kind of run alongside like the campaign. So they’ve got characters from the campaign that we’re running, whether, you know, like Christmas, etc, um, and have, you know, messages on them. So it could be, you know, Merry Christmas, you know, that you send to your friends and, or thank you or whatever for a gift. So we kind of tie into whatever the big campaign is that the marketing team are running. Um, But again, you know, very, very popular. So I think, you know, you can, you can kind of see from a journey point of view that actually it’s quite an interesting space to start to play in more. Um, so I think, you know, that this, it’s certainly something that we’d look to do more with. Um, and, and it’s, it’s, it helps because you’ve got this kind of mobile app as your primary. Way of, of communicating with the members that you can bring this kind of things in very easily within a program because we’ve got that kind of level of engagement. So, so yeah, that whole kind of collectable space, but also kind of sticker type space is, is, is a, is an area that I think will kind of work through more. 


Yeah. Yeah, no, I, I really find it exciting and I know it’s not in every country or even everybody listening who will use WhatsApp as their dominant messaging platform. Clearly it varies hugely across the world. Um, I think Facebook messenger, for example, in the us might be the dominant one, but just so I understand the journey, mark, um, you know, just from my own understanding. So essentially your member within the, the Yuu program would, um, either redeem or claim. A sticker, which is branded. And then I would take that outside into my WhatsApp communication and send, as you said, maybe a happy Christmas, is that what it is like a, almost like an emoji that wouldn’t be available if I wasn’t a member of the Yuu Rewards program.


Yeah, exactly. So the way we did it for like the, uh, say the Christmas campaign or the Chinese new year campaign, is it appears in our app, um, essentially as an ad. So, you know, when you’re scrolling through your offer feed, you’ll, you’ll see an advert for the sticker pack, uh, we, we can also promote it obviously through other channels, like push or email, etc. But if you’re in the app, you you’ll see an ad for the stickers when you click. It’ll take you to a page in the app to say, download the sticker pack. um, you know, and it’ll show the stickers that you’re gonna get. you click on it. It automatically opens up WhatsApp and automatically drops the stickers into WhatsApp for you. Um, and at that point, then you can just use them as you would use any other stickers in WhatsApp. So, um, you know, you have to, you have to go in, you have to be a member to get them clearly, and you have to go into the app to get, to get them but after that they’re in your WhatsApp and you can kind of send them obviously to friends, but obviously the way that WhatsApp works is your friends can also state that stick of themselves. Um, and so they can then reuse it if they want to elsewhere. So, so it’s just something that, you know, adds that, um, kind of viral element again, to, to doing it. Um, but I, but as you say, you know, the opportunity I guess, is to move it from being something that’s just campaign led to something that could ultimately be, say redemption led, etc so, yeah. Um, you know, you could see it ultimately moving into some form of reward and recognition, um, around that as a, as a fun asset to, to utilize. 


Yeah. Yeah. And just my final again, personal curiosity, Mark, is that something that any brand can, can do, uh, with, I suppose, full control or is it something that you need to, to connect with WhatsApp, you know, in terms of getting their permission to publish? Like, I just don’t understand the interface and, and the reason I’m asking this one, Mark is, you know, I really love WhatsApp as my, you know, my personal messaging platform. My whole life is there. And I see the business potential of it, but yet I haven’t found many ways to either see how loyalty propositions can leverage it. And only recently, for example, I saw WhatsApp themselves launching, you know, actual the opportunity to, to like, or, or, um, have an emoji, for example, on a particular message. So. To me, it feels like WhatsApp is, is behind the curve, certainly in terms of what you are doing. So just curious as to what your experience was as building that, was it all done internally, or did you need to connect with the people on WhatsApp?


 Yeah, so you can do it. So it’s, WhatsApp’s quite open in that sense. So, um, I think the first campaign we ran, uh, we worked through a third party, but you know, anybody can essentially create WhatsApp sticker. So, you know, I’ve, I’ve done my own using kind of, you know, a photo of my, of my kids. You know, you can go on the website and, and just upload a photo and turn it into a WhatsApp sticker. Um, what we then did is, uh, essentially used the, uh, the kind of  STK for that WhatsApp provide. To enable its ability to actually build it directly into the app. So we’ve now embedded it inside the app, but yeah, it’s all free to, to use essentially. Uh, and, and WhatsApp’s quite open to, to enable it, so, okay. Nothing, nothing special directly, I guess. It’s just, you know, it’s building in that capability to, to, to enable it. Um, and then using that as a channel, um, And, and we, we’ve also added it in as a, as a customer service channel. Now we launched Facebook messenger, but we now have WhatsApp as well cause it is increasingly a, you know, key channel for, uh, kind of, you know, working through. 


Okay. And just learnings on that, off the, off the top of your head, is it something that like, are you using AI for example, or is it, uh, human-led customer service? 


Yeah, for the moment, our chat is, is human-led. So, um, yeah, if you go into like a WhatsApp chat or a, or a Facebook messenger chat, you’ll go straight through to, you know, one of our chat agents. Cool. Uh, to manage that. But as you say, I mean, it is, it is definitely an area to, to look at how we do automation. Uh, you know, more around that to, as we start to, you know, extend those capabilities, but it is one of the major channels for us. It’s probably bigger than voice in terms of volumes going through.


Wow. Okay. Another super interesting, uh, insight Mark, and I had seen actually on your LinkedIn profile that you’ve done a lot, I think with them, with AI, um, in, in your career already. So clearly a personal interest for you as well. 


Yeah. I mean, again, like, like all these things, you know, per personalization and I guess, you know, AI is one of the things that underpins it is, is, is critical in this space. Yeah. Um, but like, but like everything, you know, it, it’s dependent upon the maturity of the, of the data and, and of the processes. So. You know, for us, it’s, you know, it’s looking at, you know, where, where you put personalization into the process, um, based upon the data that you’ve got. Um, but yeah, I mean, as you say, you know, it’s, it’s part of the, it’s part of the, the process of a loyalty program, I guess, across everything, whether it’s rewards or offers or messages, um, you know, all of them need to have, you know, increasing relevance to the member.


Totally. Totally. So, listen, I think we’ve talked through all of your big ideas Mark, in terms of obviously Yuu To Me, the, um, incredible e-commerce proposition that you’ve built and just for clarity as well, that has a full earn opportunity for you rewards, I guess, for people shopping within the, the app. Am I right? 


Yeah, exactly. I mean, that’s the, that’s the beauty of it, I guess, is it’s, it’s, it’s seamless in terms of the integration. Um, so, you know, when you click through in the app to, to buy groceries or even to shop at Ikea, you know, it’s a seamless in-app experience. I, I, I think you know, of a contrasted to, you know, where, where we were maybe, you know, 10, 15 years ago, you know, a lot of loyalty programs globally would have like an affiliate mall. Um, we, we obviously had one in nick to back in the day, uh, where you could obviously click through and buy from third parties and, and, and earn points on it. Um, yeah, the, the challenge, I think with the, with the way that the affiliate mall model works is you kind of give up the customer experience because, you know, at the point that somebody clicks out to that brand. Um, they’ve left you. Yeah. They’re now on the brand, you know, website. Yeah. But also you lose, you lose a connection on the customer experience in terms of, um, you know, the, the, the points coming back to the member. Uou know, sometimes it can take weeks if not months for those points to come back through through the, through the affiliate networks. Yeah. Uh, and so it’s just not a great customer experience because you don’t know when you’re gonna get your points. You don’t, you don’t get rewarded at the point that you made the purchase. Mm. Um, And it feels, you know, it feels quite disconnected as a customer experience. You know, I think what, what we’ve done with Yuu To Me is really, for me, is really just energized the whole coalition model. I mean, that that’s, that’s, you know, I love the e-commerce piece, but I think what’s really exciting as a loyalty marketer is how that we’ve kind of brought the coalition model forwards. Yeah, because that, that super app model, uh, for me is the modern day coalition, um, in terms of doing that and so being able to click through to a, to a brand seamlessly, and when you click through, they know exactly who you are, they can personalize experience around you. You know, you shop, you know, we pass, you, click through the, your addresses appear and everything appears. You know, straight away in, in, in the banner that you’ve clicked into. Amazing. And then you shop your points, come through, you know, it’s a very, very seamless experience. And I think that’s the, the, that’s the beauty of the model that, you know, we’re, we’re building on. Yeah. Is it’s, it’s, it’s one seamless experience for the customer now, um, which, which you can only do because of the way that, you know, the technology’s moved forwards. Yeah. Um, really trying to, trying to benefit from that technology and, and give the, the best customer experience we have


Yeah. Yeah, my goodness. I haven’t quite realized you have that depth of integration, mark. And as you said, I mean, affiliates in the past sometimes can feel disconnected or clunky or, or just super late. Um, as you said, in terms of closing the loop on, on the reward side, so I can hear how proud you are of, of managing to pull, as you said, the whole industry forward with that, uh, customer experience.


Yeah, it does. It’s been, it’s been a, you know, really exciting, uh, prospect, I think in terms of, in terms of doing it. Um, and there’s a lot, lot of players out there. I mean, you know, we, we learned a lot by looking across the market, you look at what people like, you know, the big, the Big Guys, like go, check and Grab who, you know, everyone knows of, but yeah, equally people like Rappi in south America are doing some great things on their super app and, and, you know, uh, Tata just launched one in India. You know, there’s a lot of, uh, people doing it. Uh, Air Asia pivoted their loyalty program into a super app. Yeah. So there’s so many people that you can kind of look at and, and, and get some great learnings from that have kind of Al already kind of plowed the field, so to speak and, and, and, you know, you know, have good ways of working, uh, that we can kind of look at and build on and, and, you know, personalize for our own market, which is great.


Yeah. Yeah. And I think it’s a good reminder Mark as well, that we all, I suppose, ideally need to keep that global perspective because, you know, Grab and Go check, uh, very much based of course, in, in Asia. Um, certainly Indonesia is my understanding where they’re both the based And you mentioned south America. So, you know, the level of innovation that’s happening in other markets that doesn’t always get the, the recognition I dare I say, or the respect, you know, I think we, we have this traditional idea that certain markets might be more mature, but I love hearing what’s going on in Asia and particularly the stuff that you are doing. So thank you for bringing all of that to our attention. So, I guess my final question is, you know, can you say what’s coming next? Is there anything that, um, you think, I suppose loyalty marketers around the world should be thinking about? Um, in terms of, you know, we’re here in the middle of 2022 might be another 18 months before we, uh, we get to sit down together again. So just any thoughts about the future either directly for you as in you, the program? Um, or, yeah, just, I suppose, industry trends you wanted to, to mention.  


Yeah. I mean, obviously I can’t talk about what we, what we might be planning.  um, I can say that we, we have a full roadmap, um, so sense. You can imagine there there’s lots more coming, but yeah, I think at a, at a high level, um, it is really just about how do we just create a, you know, an amazing customer experience. So yeah. You know, it’s, it is not hard to look in the app and work out, you know, what, what other areas we might be looking at and, and thinking about. But, um, it, it, it’s all focused on, you know, just making, making the, all the lives easier for our members essentially, so that, you know, we are kind of one stop shop. Um, if you wanna do something, you know, you get rewarded for it, but actually we also help you to do it. You know, that that’s really what we’re looking to do. So, yeah. Um, Just, just becoming more and more useful, but also just, you know, refining our processes more and more, you know, there’s so much to, to learn and, and to do that. Yeah. You know, you just never stop at that level. So we are constantly going back and looking at what we’ve built and how do we make that better. Yeah. Uh, but equally we’re constantly looking at, you know, where we think we can, we can help more. Yeah. Uh, and do that. So there’s a lot more of that to come, I guess, over the next 12 months in different areas to, to see, you know, how do we have more value.


Yes. Yeah. Well, super exciting. As I said, Mark, I’ll be following everything very closely on LinkedIn, and, uh, yes, as in when the roadmap starts to unfold again, we’ll be sure to, uh, to reach out and make sure to get you back on the show. So that was it from my side. Is there anything else that you want to mention before we wrap up?


No, I think that was great. And thank, thank you for the opportunity Paula. It’s been, uh, it’s been fun as, as it was last time. 


Wonderful. Well, listen, Mark Sage, Chief Operating Officer at Yuu, Thank you so much from Let’s Talk Loyalty. 


Fantastic. Thank you, Paula.


This show is brought to you by the Australian Loyalty Association. The leading organization for loyalty, networking, and education in Asia Pacific, their international virtual loyalty conference will take place on the 25th of August, 2022. Register now to hear global experts discuss current trends in loyalty marketing. There will be fantastic networking opportunities, questions and answers, gamification and great prizes to be won. Visit australianloyalty association.com to find out more.


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