#80: Loyalty Trends in APAC by Epsilon's Ashish Sinha

As the platform powering loyalty programmes for Walgreens, Dell, Marriott Hotels and many others, Epsilon is uniquely placed to comment on global trends in loyalty as we settle in to 2021.

Today’s episode features an interview with Ashish Sinha, who shares some great insights from his role as Managing Director for Epsilon in Asia Pacific, including his increased focus on the Middle East region.

We share stories of innovative loyalty initiatives in eCommerce, as well as some key loyalty principles he is seeing, such as consumer demand for trust and real relationships with brands beyond just transactions.

This episode is sponsored by Epsilon.

Show Notes:

1) Ashish Sinha – Managing Director – Epsilon APAC & MEA

2) Epsilon APAC 

3) Coca Cola Insider’s Club 

4) Dell Talks Loyalty & Gamification – Episode #46 of “Let’s Talk Loyalty” 

Audio Transcript

Speaker 1 (0s): Welcome to Let’s Talk Loyalty, an industry podcast for loyalty marketing professionals.

I’m your host, Paula Thomas and if you work in loyalty marketing, join me every week to learn the latest ideas for loyalty specialists around the world.

Speaker 1 (25s): This episode is brought to you by Epsilon – a leading global loyalty partner that boasts over 50 years supercharging brand experiences.
Epsilon is delighted to announce the arrival of its award-winning loyalty solutions to the Middle East and Asia Pacific region. It’s PeopleCloud loyalty, technology and services are designed to create hyper, personalized and emotional connections with customers. Perfect for consumers in the Middle East and Asia Pacific countries.

For more information, visit apac.epsilon.com forward slash let’s talk loyalty, or drop me an email, and I’ll put you in touch.

Speaker 1 (1m 11s): Welcome to the latest episode of Let’s Talk Loyalty.

And today I am delighted to be talking to one of our sponsors and a real friend of the show. So Ashish Sihna is the Managing Director for Epsilon for Asia Pacific and the Middle East and Africa.

So first of all, let me welcome Ashish Sinha to Let’s Talk Loyalty.

Thank you, Paula.

Great to have you, as she shared with me today, coming from the global delivery center in Bangalore,

Speaker 2 (1m 37s): That’s correct from the land of India.

Speaker 1 (1m 40s): Wonderful, wonderful. So I know you have a huge team there. Ashish. And I know you have a fantastic career there. We’re going to talk about today. I think over 23 years as a business leader, covering all sorts of exciting things from marketing analytics through to loyalty, particularly I think leading global 500 companies to explore their loyalty challenges at scale. Am I right? That’s correct. Wonderful. And tell me actually a she, how big is your team there in Bangalore?

Speaker 2 (2m 10s): Well, Paula, the team in Bangalore is about 2,600, but that’s the team that sort of really helps, you know, manage, build, operate platforms across the globe for our fortune 500 clients. But we also have a very strong team that sits in various cities within APEC, you know, in Singapore and Sydney. And we’re actually going to open up an office in Dubai, but it is a global team.

Speaker 1 (2m 39s): Fantastic, fantastic. So I think the purpose of our conversation today as she is really to talk about, I suppose, the state of the loyalty industry as we settle into 2021. And again, you do have extraordinary experience across big global brands, which is always super fascinating and thrilling for me to hear that you’re planning to set up office in Dubai and supported by those massive, their operational capabilities, as you said out of India. So before we get into hearing everything that you’re working on, tell me first and foremost, what is your favorite loyalty statistic?

Speaker 2 (3m 13s): All right, Paula. So I’m going to flip the question quickly because I found a wonderful statistic about your podcast, which is your, your, your listenership has increased by a whopping one six, and I think it’s 168% over the last one year. And you’re the, I think the number one podcast in the UAE and Ireland, I got these stats today and I’m so missed by it. So I thought I’d bring that up front.

Speaker 1 (3m 37s): Ah, thank you. That’s very kind of you,

Speaker 2 (3m 40s): So I know you’re going to make me speak about loyalty, but I think we’re going to have to share your secret sauce around loyalty too, as you go down the road. My favorite statistic. Well, it’s a, it’s an interesting one and it’s probably very sort of topical of the day it’s 80, 70, 60. And so what does that mean? Do you know that 80% of your online shoppers are usually members of one or more loyalty programs?

So that’s the first stat. Did you know that loyal online shoppers are 70% more probable to buy a product than a non-member and find me loyalty members spend 60% more online than non-members. So that’s the, that’s the, you know, 80, 70, 60. And I say that because, and I can give you context it’s really applicable to this Covid

Speaker 1 (4m 45s): Absolutely. Yeah. COVID is something that, I mean, unfortunately, you know, has to come up in all of these key conversations. And I know when we talked before e-commerce is a key passion of yours and I will actually share the, the, I have some background myself with it, both loyalty and e-commerce because I believe they can really drive each other. And so it is an extraordinary opportunity and I know you even sent me through some incredible statistics, particularly how e-commerce is exploding in India.

And I think we know what’s exploding all over the world, but even I see predictions that India might even overtake the United States as the world. The world’s number two e-commerce marketplace in, in, I think it’s 20, 34, if I’m correct.

Speaker 2 (5m 30s): Yeah. I mean, we do, I wish we had a crystal ball that went even longer, but that’s the furthest we could take it, but to your point, it’s e-commerce across the world. And as you know, it’s because people have more time to get onto the laptops or onto their phone because they’re sitting at home and e-commerce is the, the channel for transaction though.

Speaker 1 (5m 53s): Yeah, absolutely. And it is, and, and it has M obviously extraordinary benefits. It has extraordinary potential to explode even further. I think we both agree, but I think what we’re hoping to talk about today, and I’m really keen to hear your perspective is, you know, where is the opportunity for people within loyalty to, to drive e-commerce and, you know, e-commerce can really drive loyalty as well, because I think there’s that extraordinary opportunity to, to Excel on the customer service front, particularly in an e-commerce environment.

Is that something that you’re hearing

Speaker 2 (6m 29s): That’s true, LA Paula and I think e-commerce actually is probably the most robust KPI for a, for a loyalty leader, if they want to measure the success of their loyalty program. So in fact, we have a lots of brands that are doing two things. One is really getting to know their customer really, really well in a way, owning their digital journey. So not just when they engage with their own brand, but with other brands and then really helping customers and their consumers buy from them.

Because right now what’s happening is, you know, a lot of times brands market through Facebook or Google and they have purchases meet through Amazon or other e-commerce sites. And I think what we’re seeing is loyalty leaders are saying, well, you know what? I should have a direct relationship with my, with my loyal customer. I know them better than anybody else right now that relationship is broken because it’s walking through so many different channels. And I think e-commerce is a great way to get customers, to engage with you and then finally to monetize.

Speaker 1 (7m 39s): Absolutely. Yeah. And you know, it’s funny actually, Ashish, because as I mentioned, I have both passion for e-commerce and passion for loyalty, as you know, and I’ll quickly share this story because it’s exactly what we’re seeing now, just it’s happening in different sectors right now, I think for your clients. And there’s a couple of them, particularly I want to ask you about, but the quick story I was going to share is I worked as the e-commerce marketing manager for Emirates airline, and exactly to your point, Ashish, this is 20 years ago when travel agents were the intermediary.

So the airline itself didn’t have a direct to consumer relationship. They had started their loyalty program skywards but when we launched the e-commerce booking engine, it was an extraordinary opportunity to use the, the leavers of loyalty to offer bonus miles to book directly online and to use that channel for the first time. So is that what you’re seeing is coming through with you with your own clients?

Speaker 2 (8m 36s): It is Paula, and that’s just an amazing example because it looks like you did that quite a while back brands. Now brands now that are catching up 20 years later. So, so that’s, that’s great. And you, and you’re, you’re absolutely correct. Having that direct conversation with loyal customer is, is so, so important because you know, so many brands are vying for that loyalty. And I think the, the true sort of end of the cycle is when you engage with the, the loyal customer and they end, they buy from you because at the end of the day, you aren’t looking for results.

And so it’s, you know, when we can, I mean, we can talk about some of the e-commerce strategies, a lot of brands are, are, are embarking on, but your Emirates example is, is a, is a quintessential one

Speaker 1 (9m 26s): And certainly a pro proud moment Ashish. And I know you’re going to give us plenty more, but what I want to just pick up on what you mentioned though, because I think it is definitely a big trend that I’m hearing and that’s moving away from the platforms where maybe historically we’ve done all of the marketing or the, you know, the paper click for example, and yes, they have a role to play, but increasingly I think customers prefer to deal directly with the brand purely from a trust perspective. So I think that’s what I’m hearing you’re saying in terms of, we want to have direct relationships with these brands, and I think it’s incumbent on the brands to create the opportunity for us to do that.

Speaker 2 (10m 4s): That’s very true. That’s very true. I think we going through a period of, of great mistrust, I think we have had, you know, some of the platform, you know, we call them the walled gardens, whether it’s the Facebook. So the Amazons, they’re all under the scanner, by the public, by the government about the way they use the data, because you are sharing data with them. Now, the great thing is, you know, heads of loyalty actually have access to the most powerful data, which is first party data. And it is given by content because people join up to your program.

And they’re basically saying, I trust you enough for you to take care of my data. And then you have the obligation to take care of the data and engage in, in very privacy complaint waves, but in very good experiential ways. But the whole idea being that I think customers are getting wary of, you know, the big tech giants as the same. And they’re going to trust brands that are very transparent, very honest, and very open in engaging with them.

Speaker 1 (11m 5s): Absolutely. Yeah. I kind of, I think what, what, we’re both saying Ashish, I definitely share that feeling myself, just as a consumer where I, you know, I suppose I engaged with these platforms, you know, primarily for entertainment and again, to connect with family and friends. So there’s an inherent, I suppose, loyalty to them for creating that opportunity. But as you said, it almost feels like a lot of them have gone too far. And now it is a case where I’d say actually, no, I’d rather deal with Emirates. I’d rather deal directly with the brand because they have the explicit policies where I know there isn’t any other party involved.

So I think the commercialization of the platforms is really where I think people are just starting to get uncomfortable. As you said,

Speaker 2 (11m 49s): That’s true, Paula. I think the ecosystem will have both to your point. They all have the utilities, but I really believe that, you know, I think brands, sorry, customers are going to look to brands and, and really say, are you being honest with my data? And if you engage with me and you transact with me in transparent ways, I will buy more from you. And, and, and that’s important, really important.

Speaker 1 (12m 13s): And do you think it is because of COVID Ashish, do you think this is something that has been either triggered or accelerated by the pandemic or, or what is that context from it from a trust perspective?

Speaker 2 (12m 25s): I, I think it’s a mix. And to your point, I think a lot of this has been triggered by COVID because so much of our interactions have moved online. Whether we, the way we interact or engage with OTT, the way we engage with websites, everything we’re doing, you know, Spotify, it’s all online and, and data’s being generated and it’s been gathered. And, you know, people are finding a little spooky because suddenly the Amazons and the Googles know much more about you than you know about yourself.

And so I think it’s getting a little scary, but again, like I said, this is where custodian of data, first party data are truly are your, your, your heads of loyalty because they manage fabulous data, which they have to protect.

Speaker 1 (13m 12s): Absolutely. And again, just to, I suppose, emphasize that the new sectors that I’m seeing it in, and I’d love to hear any examples you have Ashish. So we’ve talked about travel. It’s all was really was I suppose, the forefront of loyalty, the forefront of e-commerce. So it’s not that surprising, I suppose, to hear that it was Emirates 20 years ago. But when I saw recently that I thought was fascinating was Coca-Cola in the United States and they have launched direct to consumer loyalty initiatives.

Now, certainly in the U S they’ve had their e-commerce businesses. Now I’ve never bought Coca-Cola directly from Coca-Cola. I don’t know about you, but what I like is the fact that as an FMCG brand, they are starting to realize again, that they need to have this direct connection. So I think it’s called the insiders club. So are you thinking that that other verticals like FMCG can really leverage that even if they’re maybe not as powerful as Coca Cola as a brand?

Speaker 2 (14m 13s): Oh, absolutely. Paula, we have clients in the FMCG sector that are saying we are so disintermediated from our customers, and we should know our customers better than anyone else, if we really want them to love us as a brand and if you want them to become loyal. So I think you’re going to see many more FMCG brands and other verticals looking to build a, what we call DTC relationships. And it, again, boils down to building the trust and really, really owning and engaging with the customer.

Like never before, as I said, people are not moving online. It is, it is no more a, you know, nice to have it is it is table stakes now.

Speaker 1 (14m 57s): Absolutely. And I think what a lot of people, and maybe in the past wouldn’t have really thought about is, you know, how are they being compared to other online giants? And, you know, Amazon is the obvious example. So in the past, as a retailer, perhaps you might have had your online experience and your offline experience, and perhaps the offline experience was more, well-developed more mature, but actually, as you said, people now are just on the computer and comparing these e-commerce experiences that you almost have to be as good as Amazon.

If you’re going to have a hope,

Speaker 2 (15m 30s): Absolutely they call it the three A’s people can buy anywhere, anytime. And in any way they want. So you could be in Brazil or you could be in Singapore, you could be buying the same product. You could buy it at 12 midnight. You could buy it at six in the morning and you can buy it either through internet banking or through Google pay. It’s stored that democratization of, of the buying process really means that brands have to think about their, especially their loyal customers in very different ways, especially how they engage online.

Speaker 1 (16m 6s): Absolutely. And you said something even before we came on air, I think the last time we spoke as sheesh, which I really loved because it’s a point that has been made on the show, but probably still needs more emphasis. And it’s actually that now more than ever, the brand needs to be loyal to the customer and really demonstrate empathy. So I think a lot of us build loyalty programs and say, grace, we want our customers to be more loyal and buy more. And we do, but I think you have that perspective. That really just is, you know, how can we demonstrate that loyalty?

Speaker 2 (16m 38s): Oh, absolutely. And it’s even more magnified during these tough times. I mean, corporate has been crazy and it’s left a lot of families better financially, physically in all ways, mentally and in a win, like you mentioned, you know, we always talk as brands about getting loyal customers. I think we have to be loyal brands too. And, and here’s some examples of what it means to be a loyal brand. You know, th there, there is a brand we know, and this is sort of the, the, the, the wrong side of the house.

An example that I feel is something you should not follow a brand that had a loyalty program and found at the average spend of some of their loyal members, loyalty members was declining that drastically. And so their action was, well, guess what? Let’s just throw more promotions and offers at them. But little did they realize that, you know, the, the purchasing power of that loyal member had really got gone down because they’d lost their jobs.

Right? And so it is extremely, and that’s where, you know, a consumer can, you know, you can give a very sour taste with consumers if you engage with them in, in ways, you know, when you shouldn’t, when the situation is not great. And on the flip side, we, we have another brand. It’s actually a bank that during COVID, I, I recall that instead of again, pounding their, their prospects and customers with, you know, open an account or open up a brokerage account, or by insurance, they were actually talking about, Hey, if you’re a small business owner, here are ways you can get access to zero interest emergency funds that have been deployed by the government.

Right. So instead of saying, come and get a home loan from us, they’re basically saying, you know, it’s tough times the government has a better option and here’s how you can go about getting it. And I think that’s when you’re loyal to your, to your, to your consumer. Yeah.

Speaker 1 (18m 46s): Yeah. And I’ve often said before, as well as sheesh, what I love about these conversations is we get to talk about the emotion of loyalty, because, you know, I deliberately didn’t call the show, let’s talk loyalty programs because, you know, we all know the points and prizes, and we know the mechanics, but it’s, it’s the underlying intention of taking care of each other that I think is coming through in the kind of work that you guys are doing.

Speaker 2 (19m 10s): Yeah. They say loyalty and family. Yeah. They’re interchangeable. And it’s all about experiences. Yeah. That’s true.

Speaker 1 (19m 18s): Yeah. So what do you mean by experiences Ashish?

Speaker 2 (19m 21s): Well, I think, again, this comes to a point of, you know, just, you know, is this another offer or a discount, or, you know, do you earn and burn points? It’s so transactional and you may have heard of this. You know, it’s about really now building those emotional connects because your loyal member is like a part of your family, and you’ve got to treat them like your family. You know, you cannot be always hounding them with deals. You know, the best deal of the day. You have to like free, have a, a large pharmacy giant.

And I can actually mention the name Walgreens, but they are just, they, they transformed the loyalty program from being very much a points based system and reward speed system to one, which is extremely experiential, which means if you have a certain ailment, then every month, Walgreens will make sure you get, you know, kind of tips, ways of tackling your elements, new diets. And so, in a way, it’s looking after you looking after your wellbeing, not just trying to push more drugs to you.

And I think that that’s when you feel, you know, they’re, they’re are, they’re a loyal brand to you because they’re doing much more than just giving you the next best deal.

Speaker 1 (20m 38s): Wow. That’s an extraordinary example. I’d heard they’d rebranded Ashish, and I know you guys run the Walgreens program, but I didn’t really understand, I suppose, the intention behind us. And I know from my own kind of research and writing that, you know, lots of other, again, e-commerce players are trying to move into Walgreens overall business in terms of, you know, sending out drugs, for example, just kind of shipping the prescription, but that whole approach of, I suppose, wellness and I suppose true personalization because my goodness health is first and foremost.

And again, the context of COVID means that the level of appreciation that I would have for my pharmacy to actually help manage any condition. If, if I have one, I think that’s, that’s just a really lovely insight.

Speaker 2 (21m 24s): So true. And again, it boils down to, if you have a family you’re going to be loyal to them and you’re going to do other things than just transactions. You know, Walgreens also has a great prescription refill reminder. They have, you know, curbside pickups so that, you know, it’s contactless in terms of any kind of exchange of goods, they really are looking after you and your safety and your wellness to your point. So I think they’ve moved away from selling drugs to let me help you with your health.

Speaker 1 (21m 57s): Yeah. And dare I say it, I think for some brands, it almost took Covid to really kind of, I suppose, make us take a step back and go, what am I doing here? You know, what is my purpose as a business? You know, nevermind again, a structured loyalty program. So it’s, I’m not here just to market my stuff. I’m here to again, do business and take care of my family.

Speaker 2 (22m 19s): That’s correct, Paula, there are many, many examples. And I think the winners through COVID are going to be those that stuck by their consumers that had a great online sort of interface. And that gave great experiences.

Speaker 1 (22m 33s): Yeah. And I know, again, even looking back at previous, I suppose, and challenging times in the world, like, you know, for example, 2002 days would have been a time where economically there was a lot of recession happening. And my own experience at the time was brands that invested in the customer relationship at that exact time. First of all, it was actually almost easier to stand out for doing simple things. Well, and I think those businesses definitely thrived in the years to come. So it’s almost just the need to kind of go, okay, actually there’s a dramatic situation and it’s time to step back and, and really just kind of go, okay, what can we do for the long-term relationship?

And again, just to kind of earn that loyalty over time.

Speaker 2 (23m 17s): That’s correct. And I think when you, when you have a loyalty program or give loyalty members, you’re not looking at them for a purchase, you know, three months from now, you’re looking at customer lifetime value. In fact, you want their kids and their, and your grandkids to enjoy it, your brand, and it’s really a long-term play. And so I think brands that invest now that give experiences that are not always looking at pushing out promotions are going to be the winners down the road. So

Speaker 1 (23m 46s): Ashish we’ve talked about trust, and I think we’ve talked about e-commerce. So what other trends do you see coming through in terms of, I suppose, both Epsilon clients and just your, your overall work with their loyalty programs in general?

Speaker 2 (23m 59s): Yes, Paula, we feel that at the end of the day, the trend is going to emanate from the consumer and we see some fundamental shifts in the way consumers, sentiments are, are, are shifting, especially during these profound dimes. One, one trend is really around escapism and, and Paul, I think you probably will relate to this. You know, we are so fatigued about what’s going on around us.

There is a level of pessimism. There are folks with, you know, some serious mental health issues just because of the last one year. And so people are trying to escape from reality. And this is where, again, coming back to experiences, which is why it’s so important to have true personalization, you know, and I’ll give you some examples of kind of how this, this is working. You know, the, the fact is that I don’t know if you’re aware of this.

There’s a, there’s a new trend it’s called isolationist traveling. And so there are travel companies that have realized that, you know, there’s no, one’s going to jump on a flight to go to a sea resort, mingled with lots of people have a rave party that that’s not going to happen. Now, these are crazy times, but people are looking for experiences where they can, you know, go on trips on their own. They’re looking for road trips, they’re looking for remote camping.

And so the kind of experiences you give now to your consumers are ones where you can help them really escape from reality and do it in a very safe way.

Speaker 1 (25m 48s): That’s incredibly insightful because again, I’ve done plenty of staycations in the last 12 months. And again, you know, my own home country of Ireland, for example, you know, people aren’t even allowed being traveled to the airport. So even if they were willing themselves and, and brave enough to get on a flight, which I think many woods they’re, they just, unfortunately can’t get there. So what I love though, is a lot of airlines, I think, are starting to kind of see those opportunities to even partner with other kind of maybe more local partnerships to drive that kind of loyalty to say, okay, we can’t reward your loyalty with a free flight.

So let’s, for example, fulfill it with a staycation. And I know you have hotel clients, for example, but even if it is just actually, you know, account side from the desert, I’d be perfectly happy to use my loyalty points and go and stay in a, in a mountain somewhere.

Speaker 2 (26m 38s): Sure, absolutely. Paula, in fact, you know, you brought up hotels, you know, Marriott is a client of ours and they essentially kind of caught up with this wave of people, want to sort of, you know, escape from reality, even though it’s sometimes very difficult to do that. So one of which is they brought into their program was essentially booking for the future with extremely flexible cancellation policies. So, you know, there’s peace of mind. You can book a holiday with your current points 12 months from now.

And in six months, if you see that it’s not going to work out, it’s very easy to cancel. And I think it also gives you hope. It makes you think about all the good days it makes you think about while there’s something I’m looking forward to. And that’s what, and that’s the experience Marriott created by saying, you know what? You can travel now. Guess what? For the future. And if it doesn’t work out, Hey, we won’t find you and we give your money back.

Speaker 1 (27m 38s): Yeah. And it’s, it’s actually to your same point earlier, sheesh, about the brand being loyal to the customer. So that’s an exact example of Marriott kind of going, okay, this is way we can put their minds at rest. And actually you’ve reminded me of one other personal example because I did travel home at Christmas while it was possible. And to, to get to Ireland and Emirates, for example, has a global, global covert coverage. So if you do travel with the airline and do unfortunately happened to get the infection, you can have all of your medical needs taken care of.

So I think there’s lots of examples coming through and with all sorts of and clients. And again, I love the insights you have because you’ve got so many kind of big global brands. And sometimes there’s a case where actually that’s something that anyone can do, regardless of whether it’s an e-commerce company, whether it’s a hotel or an airline. So, so lots of great ideas coming through. Are there any others that you think we can share with the audience?

Speaker 2 (28m 36s): Yeah, no. I’m trying to think of others. I mean, I can think of just simple ones that are, you know, better, not clients of ours, but I believe are doing are kneeling the concept of experiential loyalty. And a good example is Spotify. Spotify is just beating Apple music hands down and that’s because they have some really, really interesting ideas that they keep sprouting up. I don’t know if you’ve heard of Spotify, Spotify wrapped.

No. Tell me Spotify wrapped is a really, really cool sort of program where the, you know, you, as a listener, a Spotify looks at your, your history of music listening. It looks at the songs you’ve listened to the most. The bands have listened to the most and it creates this really cutesy kind of video, which you can actually share on social media platforms and it’s done at the end of the year. So in a way you can go back to all the music, you escaped three new year, and you can see that in a video and it’s really cute, funky and original.

And it’s basically bringing all these songs that you listen to in funky West together. And then that little video of something you can send to friends. And it’s a very small, effective thing, but it’s a beautiful thing because people love that. And it didn’t have, you know, you don’t have to spend too much money on it. It’s very easy to do on technology, but it left such an impact on its users. That again, like I said, I think they have really learned the art of driving loyalty

Speaker 1 (30m 20s): And Spotify is an extraordinary brand. And I think, I think we all get a sense of satisfaction because, well, from my perspective, they’re really supporting podcasts. So go Spotify and genuinely, I think the figure I saw they’ve invested is $600 million. So they’ve brought some exclusive content, which again is probably something that loyalty program owners always aspire to, you know, which is really, you know, create something exclusively for your customers. So I love to think that Spotify is finding ways to, to drive loyalty because it’s not one that we think of typically.

And again, it’s an e-commerce brand does exists purely in a digital environment.

Speaker 2 (30m 59s): That’s correct. Paula and this also behooves a lot of traditional companies to push hard on their commerce activities, ongoing digital, otherwise they’re going to be left behind.

Speaker 1 (31m 12s): Yeah, absolutely. So where do you think they are Ashish again? I think as we’ve said, you know, the consumer appetite is, is ginormous. Let’s just say, and to add to our favorite statistics point, actually you gave me a, some as well, which I’m going to share with our listeners. And one is that in 2017, the e-commerce valuation in India was about $30 billion with projections by 2026 to grow to $200 billion.

And so I think there’s just, just an outstanding amount of opportunity there. So what do you think loyalty program owners need to be thinking of to, to really capture all of that value?

Speaker 2 (31m 54s): Yeah, Paula, I think this is where we have or loyalty traditional loyalty programs have engaged with, with customers sort of in a, what we called the offline world. So, you know, emails, brochures in store activity. And this is a time where loyalty leaders have to engage with customers in a very, very suave weight digitally. And there are technologies out there that if used in extremely compliant ways.

And with the permission of, of your loyalty member, can essentially tell you how your loyalty a member manages his or her day digitally. You know, what kind of sites do the, like, what kind of blogs do they visit? You know, what are their passions, what are their interests? And you need to pick the signals digitally and capture them and then weave it into the way you personalize your next specs to actions with your, with your loyal customers.

So right now, you know, a lot of programs, you know, you’ll have business rules that the market has device based on input stay. They see by segmenting the loyalty data that they get from their programs. But we are saying, you’ve got to go a step ahead. Now you need to know much more about your loyal customer, not just what they do with your brand in that also in an offline world, but you need to be able to understand how they live their online world and use that intelligence to hyper-personalized, how you engage with them.

And I think that’s where I see a lot of loyalty leaders having to go, which is, it’s not just important to have a loyalty program. You have to have almost a customer three 60 degree view digital program that you bought on top of your loyalty program.

Speaker 1 (33m 47s): Yeah, it sounds super complicated as you sh I haven’t run a loyalty program in, in, let’s say four or five years. And certainly that level of, of expertise wasn’t available on the programs I was running. Is it something that that’s, that’s already in operation for, for a lot of clients, do you think they’re, they’re getting that full three 60 view,

Speaker 2 (34m 8s): Paula, I have to be honest with you. I think there are, there are clearly, you know, trendsetters that have been around that are really trying to push the boundary. I don’t think anyone’s reached that true three 60 degree view of the customer, because I think it’s almost impossible to know everything about Paula or everything about Asheesh, but I think, you know, the technologies that exist now, where you can get, if not three 60, you can get three 20 degrees. And again, I think it’s very important as a brand that you let your consumer know what you’re doing, how you’re collecting the data and how you’re going to use it.

And you have to commit to them that you’re not going to misuse it. You’re not going to share it with anyone else, but once they understand, and they trust you, the value you can get with the data and the way you can then engage with that consumer they’ll, you’ll pay you back a hundred times in terms of how they’ll engage with you. How they’ll talk about you, the reviews that they’ll put on you on social media. I think it’s going to be, it’s going to be great. Sort of it’s going to be a great win loyalty, loyalty heads can catch up with that sort of concept.

Speaker 1 (35m 18s): Absolutely. And my final one really was just around a previous show. I did with them with one of your clients and which is the, the Dell and loyalty program and what I particularly loved about that, and I’ll make sure to link to it in the show notes. So if anybody hasn’t heard that particular interview, what I really love is that between you guys at Dell had managed to build a purely gamification based loyalty program. And I know they’ve, they’ve kind of used the platform and really in what they would have described as, you know, quite a challenging and very lengthy life cycle in terms of their customers.

And again, in the context, particularly, we’re talking about a lot of people feeling a bit, you know, down in the dumps at the moment, to me, there’s a massive opportunity, not just to have that customer three 60 view, but also maybe to think about new strategies in partnership with people like you guys who have all the capabilities that you might need, you might just have tapped into a particular strategy, but I think you can add pieces on as, as the, the, the loyalty world evolves.

Speaker 2 (36m 23s): That’s correct. Do you know the industry that grew the most in 2020 or one of the industries that grew the most was the online gaming industry, and you can imagine why that happened. You know, there were people, there were, there were folks who were looking for some excitement, they got online. They, you know, in these online games, you, you, you can see scores of the people you’re competing with. And I think that’s the beauty of, of game. Gamification is you bring action to the online world.

And I think there’s nothing like bringing gamification to loyalty. I think it’s a very powerful strategy. And if using the right way can deliver many good results.

Speaker 1 (37m 3s): Absolutely. And also with certainly very cost effective strategy. And again, that’s top of mind for a lot of people listening. And I want to thank you actually, as she is for your kind words at the start of the show in terms of by audience, because you’re absolutely right. I feel very proud and humbled by the number of people who do listen to the show. And, you know, if anybody listening, wasn’t aware of there’s about 500 people listening now to every single show. So when it comes to values that we’ve talked about in terms of trust, you know, we’re here to share information and we’re here to educate each other and we’re here to learn.

So, so I know that’s exactly what you guys do as well as friends at the show. So yeah, so lots of learnings, I think, from all of the work we do together. And my final question for you is she, she is just, you briefly mentioned that you’re going to be setting up an office in Dubai. So I’m hoping we get to meet face-to-face, but tell me, have you any sense of when that might happen or, or what your plans might be for the middle East region, particularly

Speaker 2 (37m 60s): It is a market that we feel can, we can be, can really open up as we bring the new technologies, because I think the, the consumers in that, in that region are aspirational. They want to be taken care of. They want to be given options. They want to have fun. And it is a market that I think would like this. I believe Amazon can, can really thrive in. I hope we can do something this year, but you’ll be the first one to know Paula.

Speaker 1 (38m 32s): Well, on that note, Ashish, I’m super excited and I hope to be the first to know, is there anything else you wanted to share with the audience before we wrap up?

Speaker 2 (38m 41s): No. Paula, I just feel great that you, you know, gave me the opportunity to speak to you and engage on this podcast. I’ve heard a couple of your podcasts, and I must say they, in fact, for a lot of people in Epsilon, your podcast has created quite a large impact. You know, there are people talking about you, Paula, about how they can, how they can engage with you, how I can learn from your, I actually learned some very interesting things on the show. So, so thank you to, because you, you shared some learnings, which I’ll take back.

Speaker 1 (39m 12s): Wonderful. Wonderful. Well, listen, on that note, I will say managing director for Epsilon, APAC and middle East and Africa. Thank you so much from let’s talk loyalty.

Speaker 0 (39m 24s): Thank you, Paula. You take care.

Speaker 1 (39m 30s): This show is sponsored by the wise market here. The world’s most popular source of loyalty, marketing news insights and research. The Ys marketeer also offers loyalty marketing training through its loyalty Academy, which has already certified over 170 executives in 20 countries as certified loyalty marketing professionals. For more information, check out the wise market, tier.com and loyalty academy.org.

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Speaker 0 (40m 30s): .