#310: Lessons from New Zealand's Phil Devlin - Loyalty Expert (Short Summary Show)

New Zealand is a small country punching WAY above its weight in the loyalty industry, with over 95% of Kiwi consumers enrolled in at least one programme, so it was incredibly exciting to meet one of the country’s leading loyalty experts in 2021 – Phil Devlin.

In this short summary show, I review his fascinating career which includes Air New Zealand, Qantas, and Countdown Supermarkets as well as some of the key lessons I learnt from our conversation.

Across his entire loyalty career, Phil has created clear and compelling loyalty concepts both independently and with partners, with a focus on simplicity, transparency, and integrity, so listen to learn his latest ideas on what was important to consumers in 2021 and remains true today.

Show Notes:

1)Phil Devlin

2) Countdown New Zealand

3) LTL Episode 153: New Zealand Loyalty Expert Shares Exciting Airline & Grocery Loyalty Insights

4) Share your feedback with us!

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 Comarch. A global provider of innovative software products and business services Comarch’s platform is used by leading brands across all industries to drive their customer loyalty. Powered by AI and machine learning, Comarch technologies allow you to build, run, and manage personalized loyalty programs and product offers with ease. For more information, please comarch.com.

Hello and welcome to this week’s short episode of Let’s Talk Loyalty. I’m your host, Paula Thomas, and today I’m looking back at my conversation from October, 2021 with Phil Devlin, who at the time was head of strategic partnerships at the Grocery Retailer Countdown in New Zealand, a brand which is part of the Woolworth’s group.

We had a fascinating conversation about the evolution of the loyalty market there, and Phil shared some insights on Kiwi consumers. He talked about how engaged they are with loyalty programs in general, and then some ways that consumer behavior was changing due to the pandemic. My favorite statistic he shared was that 95% of New Zealanders over the age of 16 are members of at least one loyalty program.

And I’m guessing that must be one of the highest rates of membership in the world. It’s truly impressive and it approves the critical importance of building excellent propositions for consumers in New Zealand. Phil’s loyalty career spans several exciting sectors including the airline industry, and now of course grocery retail.

He talked us through his background and some key initiatives at Air New Zealand in particular, which featured some unique strategic partnerships he developed to help build the program beyond simply an airline loyalty program into a comprehensive lifestyle proposition. Of course that means the consumers can engage even when they aren’t flying.

Like all loyalty programs. Phil tells me how carefully Air New Zealand collected and used their customers data in a way that increases personalization, but firstly focused on ensuring a sense of relevant and respectful connection for their members. Another key principle that Phil is passionate about is simplicity.

He believes that programs that focus on reducing complexity can significantly enhance their relationships with their members and drive overall engagement. One example of this was some regulation and an emerging bill being developed by government called the Plain Language Bill, and that just further proves how critical it is to use simple language that explain rather than confuse your customer.

Through simple language, more members can be engaged, and as we all know, engage consumers stay longer. And Phil explained that these relationships can then be built by respecting and relating to consumers with both transparency and integrity, with equal respect for the brand and for the member. I then asked Phil how they’re thinking about consumer and corporate concerns around sustainability.

Like any retailer, Countdown was using the power of its loyalty program to support several important sustainability initiatives, including one in partnership with AA Smart Fuel, who had also recently been guests with us here on Let’s Talk Loyalty. We finished up by discussing other trends, which are becoming a greater focus of for consumers as we continue to deal with the pandemic.

One of my favorites in the grocery retail industry is the opportunity for retailers like Countdown to work with consumer good manufacturing brands who increasingly realize the incredible power of accessing consumer insights through a partner loyalty program. Separately, another industry fundamental, which may seem obvious but is nonetheless vital for us in an industry, is the basic principle of securing customers data and protecting that as our single greatest asset that members trust us with.

Finally, Phil shared his fascination with the evolution of technology with many loyalty programs now embracing the power and opportunity of SaaS solutions to replace the legacy systems we previously had to rely on. This episode is filled with Phil’s incredible loyalty expertise, so I want all of you to go and listen back and hear his insights and learn how this small country is punching above its weight in the loyalty market.

The full episode is easily available to listen to on letstalkloyalty.com/153. That’s all for today, please tune in for tomorrow’s episode where Amanda Cromhout will be sharing an incredible loyalty story of a program in crisis. An award-winning program called Wiiv in Mauritius, whose loyalty technology supplier went out of business overnight. They had just 24 hours to save their data. Truly a nightmare scenario, but I hope none of the rest of us ever has to deal with. Then on Thursday, I’m really excited to be able to share the story of KFC and their brand new loyalty program for the UK and Ireland markets. It’s a superb story of dramatic change and the adoption of gamification as a strategy to engage and reward customers.

Thank you for listening to this episode of Let’s Talk Loyalty, and I wish you a great week in loyalty.

This show is sponsored by The Wise Marketer, the world’s most popular source of loyalty marketing news, insights, and research. The Wise Marketer also offers loyalty marketing training through its Loyalty Academy, which has already certified over 245 executives in 27 countries as certified loyalty marketing professionals.

For more information, check out thewisemarketer.com and loyaltyacademy.org.

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