#365: Understanding Loyalty in Germany & Key Take-Outs from The European White Paper

This episode focuses on the loyalty market in Germany, featuring expert insights from ⁠Nicole Wilhelm⁠.

Nicole is an independent customer loyalty expert, a well-known industry thought leader and an advocate for emotional loyalty.

Nicole is a key contributor to the “Understanding Loyalty in Europe” White Paper created by Mando-Connect in partnership with YouGov, which explores loyalty membership, appeal and impact across 24 European Markets.

Listen to learn about the loyalty landscape in Germany – what membership, appeal and impact look like in this market – and which programmes and key innovations should inspire us all.

Hosted by Charlie Hills. 

Show Notes :

1) Nicole Wilhelm

2) European Loyalty Whitepaper

3) Mando Connect

4) 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. Today’s episode is hosted by Charlie Hills, Managing Director 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, make sure to join Let’s Talk Loyalty every Tuesday, every Wednesday, and every Thursday to learn the latest ideas from loyalty experts around the world.

This show was brought to you by Comarch, a global provider of powerful loyalty management tools to increase customer lifetime value and improve your return on investment. Recognized as one of the top loyalty technology solutions providers in the Forrester Wave, Loyalty Technology Solutions report quarter 1  2023, Comarch is responsible for over 120 loyalty initiatives in 50 countries around the world. Comarch Technologies help companies design, build, and manage highly immersive loyalty programs that bring results. For more information, please visit comarch.com.

Charlie: Hello and welcome to episode 365 of Let’s Talk. I’m Charlie Hills, the Managing Director and Head of Strategy for Mando Connect, WPP loyalty specialist partnerships and rewards agency. We have created a new 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 six podcasts with some of the experts featured in the paper to help listeners better understand loyalty across Europe. Today I am delighted to welcome Nicole Wilhelm. Nicole is an independent customer loyalty expert, well-known industry thought leader and advocate for emotional loyalty with global cross industrial expertise.

She has provided the expert commentary on the German market in the white paper. Today we’ll be learning about Nicole’s favorite loyalty programs, what the loyalty landscape looks like in Germany, and which are the programs to watch. I hope you enjoy our conversation today.

Hello Nicole and welcome to Let’s Talk Loyalty today. 

Nicole: Yes, hi Charlie. Thanks for inviting me.

Charlie: We’re absolutely thrilled, to have you on the podcast today. So let’s start with Paula’s favorite question. What Nicole is your favorite loyalty program and why?

Nicole: Okay, Charlie. I mean, that question is always a really tough one, right?

Because you have so many great programs and different industries and different countries, but if you really make me choose one, it’s, it’s gonna be Sephora Unlimited. Just because I like the way they combine transactional loyalty with emotional loyalty. So of course they, they have their, transactional, features like you collect points and you get rebates or vouchers, but they also, really try to implement that emotional part of their loyalty program as well. And that’s one thing I really like with them. I mean, besides being omnichannel in their communication and having integrated that program, in their, into their, their Sephora brand. 

Let me give you an example from, from the US because I’ve lived there a couple of years and worked there and and I really get to, get to feel how they treat the loyalty program in store. That’s what I really like cuz I’m a big fan of, having the loyalty program really communicated and being used, in store because that, in my opinion, creates, a deeper loyalty, a deeper bondage with the member.

Charlie: That’s really nice. And they’re in such an emotional sector as well, aren’t they? That kind of, that beauty sector can be such a warm and emotive customer experience. And then the loyalty program really brings that to life. I know that emotional loyalty is a big theme for you, isn’t it? Tell us a bit more about your loyalty background and, and what made you so interested in, in working with programs that, that really push that emotional loyalty agenda.

Nicole: Yeah. So, I always, well, I’ve been in the loyalty industry for, for 20 years now, and, my, I always divide my professional career in, into basically two, two parts. The first part, being an employee myself, so I’ve worked for, for companies which are in the loyalty sector, like Miles & More, Lufthansa Miles Moore, Arvato Bertelsmann. 

I’ve worked for the coalition program, Deutschlandcard and, and also with, even in Austria. I was able to, to design and implement and manage a loyalty program, from scratch. So, yes. And then since 2011, I’m basically a loyalty expert, which is independent and really focusing on, on an unbiased, expertise.

So, and being that expert, I focus on program design and re, or redesign of programs. I support the, the implementation, especially, the processes, of a program and the, the IT which also most often includes vendor selection of the IT software. And, basically everything around, communication, campaign management, direct marketing.

Charlie: Wow. That’s a lot, right? I think that’s what’s so fantastic about loyalty marketing in that it touches so many disciplines, doesn’t it? That relationship with your existing customer is across so many sectors and brands, and Germany’s a a really interesting market and it’s obviously what we are here to, to talk to, our listeners about today.

What do you think are the programs in, in Germany that are really nailing that emotional loyalty connection that’s so important and, I’m sure you’ve designed some great features into the programs you’ve worked on, but who do you think, you know, our listeners should be really looking to in Germany to, to get that right as well as Sephora, obviously?

Nicole: Well, to, to be honest, because you know, you would say like, hey, why has she chosen US, program and not because I’m an expert in Germany, not a German program, but, having experienced both, both markets, I, I realized that within loyalty marketing, the US, the US is just a more developed market than Germany.

And lemme just draw maybe, the landscape or an over, give you an overview of what the, the loyalty market is like in, in my country. And I think that’s exactly where when it comes to emo, emotional loyalty, you’ll find, the crux of this matter, because we mainly still have very much transactional based programs.

So, and that’s, I think it’s also, from the, from from history, right? Because we have a strong history in coalition programs and we also have of course, single partner programs and they all work with points or a currency that you earn and you burn it for, for rewards or you get a kickback or, or rebates.

And, for some of it then implement tier level so you have a status structure. And I think this is the first time where emotional loyalty comes more into place. So they offer special perks and benefits, and I think you can really work on that emotional concept with the status program and but to, to be honest, I think there is a lot of room for improvement and there’s still a lack of, of that bondage and that emotional connection in Germany.

Charlie: Yeah, I think that’s really interesting actually. And when we were looking at the white paper across all those different markets, I think you can really see that variation across the 24 markets in the white paper. About some markets that have really focused on emotional loyalty and some that are more transactional.

So it’s interesting to see that you see Germany as, as a more transactional, market. What does membership look like, in Germany from the, the white paper that you looked at? And I know some other studies as well that you’ve looked at over the last couple of years. You know, what percentage of Germans are members of loyalty program?

Nicole: Yes. and I think, that exactly the feedback in this, in this report and the white paper exactly, mirrors, my, my picture a little bit because, it, it shows, first of all, the score of the membership with 59% is below average. I think average was, 61%. 

Charlie: Yeah. 

Nicole: To be honest, before I would’ve assumed that Germany is definitely in the upper half and not, below average, average, concerning membership.

But then, if you, if you really look into the appeal, which means, which is the, the second score, and especially there, 65% of Germans said it’s a great way, that the program is a great way to reward customers. You can see that in general, Germans are open for loyalty programs, right? So the good news is, right, they’re open, but I think they’re selecting it very thoroughly, which program they, choose where they give their data or whom they give their data. And, and they also evaluate does it really, does it really, is it worth joining the program, right? And, and I think that’s just the way, or it’s so typical, for, for Germans to be that way.

And, and I know again, here comparing it to to, to the US, it’s so different, right? They, they basically join every program they can catch. 

Charlie: Yeah. 

Nicole: And, they’re much more, relaxed with, with giving their data as far as what I have seen. And, so there’s really a difference and I think that is, very important for a brand who either wants to implement a loyalty program or has a loyalty program to, to really focus on creating that trust in Germany. 

You meet the trust in order to have, the customers or the members being open to give data. And you, on the other hand, want that data in order to, give a more personalized experience. And this all ends up in customer experience and, and stronger loyalty and strong bond.

Charlie: Yeah, I think that’s a really interesting trend that came out quite strongly from the German market as well, that that prominence on data privacy, security and it’s interesting that you articulate that as trust in the brand. Cause I think it’s, it’s 35% of Germans will join a program when they’re given the opportunity, isn’t it?

Which is the European average but actually what you are saying in your market is, is trust and data is so important. Which programs do you think are doing that well? You know, which programs do you think that the German people really trust and therefore, you know, actually engage with and, and want to be part of that program? Who’s, who are the best ones that our listeners should be looking to? 

Nicole: Well, I think, especially with the new regulation, and in Germany, every program needs to be, really ahead of that, right? And the, the big ones like of course Payback or Deutschlandcard or, also in, in the retail industry, they, I mean, they, that’s a must have.

So I think I, I don’t, I cannot name any program that is really doing it super well. I mean, to, to be honest, if you, if you look on the website, for example, Paybackl is really communicating it well, right? What they do with the data and how it’s secure. And I know it also from my time when I was at Deutschlandcard, that is a big thing, right to really, focus on or giving the member the feeling, that we are protecting or they are protecting the data and, and, and that they can trust in, in giving that data. 

Charlie: Yeah. That’s really interesting, isn’t it? And I think everybody’s always the kind of case studies and that that is something that is affecting markets across Europe actually, in terms of that increased regulation on data and that increased focus on it.

I know there’s, there’s a couple of panels at it, at the loyalty summits, conference as well, which I think will be really interesting for people to, to hear and, and catch up on for those that couldn’t make the, the conference. What about impact with Germans? What kind of  impact do loyalty programs have?

Nicole: Yes. Okay. That was the, the third score, right? 

Charlie: Yeah. 

Nicole: And, and that is really interesting again, cause here the Germans are at the lower end again, right. So, which means, impact, right? It makes me more loyal, loyal. It, it makes me do a higher spend. I’m more emotionally connected. And actually that answers what we just talked about again.

Because I, I think that in the end, that means that the current programs have room for improvement. And, and they really, I think they, they should reconsider their, their value proposition and their loyalty strategy and move towards being more attractive for the customer, Right. 

Charlie: Yeah, I think that was really interesting because I think we saw, I was surprised as well.

I would’ve thought, given the value mindset that we see in Germany and the importance on that value exchange, that the positive impact of loyalty programs would’ve been greater than the European average which….

Nicole: Me too, actually. Yes. But I don’t know if it’s, it’s in the end, because we, we, we come from this really transactional based, background.

Now it’s, it’s a sort of a time where, and that’s I can see as well, right? Where, where companies really look into, oh, I have to, I have to redesign my program, I have to evolve my program. I have to bring in new features because points just don’t, you know, that’s a customer expects. That’s like, the base of a program, but then the customer says, hey, you know, I’m being more in a, in a being more digital now.

They, they expect to, that programs move further, that they create ecosystems that they partner with others to, to just make, more, or a better value proposition of their, their program, right? To invite them to have special events, to have surprised and delight. And, and that’s now where we come or we step into thing of, do your basics.

Right. Right. You have to have the right structure. You have to have the right IT system in place or in order to bring your loyalty program to the next level. And, and that’s what I often see. So when I speak to potential clients, or it’s a, it’s a, a project kickoff you often see, okay. They have this really, they have this vision of what they want for their loyalty program, which is great.

They have objectives and they know whom they want to target. But maybe they don’t have their basics in their case, so they, they still struggle with their IT infrastructure. They struggle with their data being in different silos and so, and then you, you have to say, okay, we, we must have to work on that before, you know, looking at the so-called stuff and and, and, and I mean, there are always ways to, to to find some, low hanging fruit to integrate, right? And that’s also part of if we say, okay, go more towards emotional loyalty, and this and that, we can already implement now. But we, we really have to, to look at the program in total. 

Charlie: Yeah, I think that’s really interesting, that holistic view, and I think we’ve seen across that white paper that impact on those emotional metrics and that impact on those functional metrics.

And you almost need to know the goal, where you want to get to, in order to understand what your priorities are internally. We often have, work with programs who are talking about an MVP, you know, actually what’s our minimum viable product to go to market then for the longer term ambition. Do you see any programs evolving in Germany?

What are the big innovations that you are seeing in the German market? I know you talked about a few, in the white paper before we actually talked about the context of the, the specific data. Like what are the big trends in innovations happening in Germany? 

Nicole: Well, to be, to be honest, I think the, the trends is basically what we, what we talked about right now that, companies and brands realizing that they need to evolve their programs and, so really moving alongside transactional loyalty towards more this emotional perspective.

Digitalization is definitely, one big thing. I think one program I mentioned is, is a first mover in the discount retail, sector, a leader who implemented in 2020, purely digital program. One and first being the first in, in the discount, retail sector. So I, I, I chose these, these, programs because I think those are programs to watch.

So it’s gonna be very interesting how, this program will evolve, how, members and, and customers will, connect to that program and, and, and what the, what the success will be, right? So that’s interesting to see. I also chose, of course, having this strong, coalition, background. I chose Payback as another program simply because, I mean, if you look at like what is the most successful program, you have to, define what you mean with success, right?

Is it ROI as it customer engagement? So, I chose a coalition and, and Payback, because I think one of the, the biggest programs, 31 million members and, it’s very well known in Germany, although I must say we also have, the other coalition Deutschlandcard, which also, you know, keeps evolving and is settling very well into, into the coalition market.

And, but you can see that the Payback really tries to find trends, tries, new things, goes towards, new channels. They’ve basically set up an an ecosystem around their loyalty solution. So they have, I think, more than 600, 680 partners of course online and, and offline partners.

Charlie: I mean, sets the standard, doesn’t it? I think payback is, is held up. 

Nicole: It is, yes.

Charlie: I think, I imagine many of our listeners are going 31 million members. Gosh, that’s insane. Look, in Britain, our biggest programs in in Great Britain are around the kind of 19 million marks. So to even think about a loyalty program with 31 million members is extraordinary. There might be some of our, our people listening, that aren’t familiar with Payback.

Actually, it would be really interesting, I think, to hear from you, you know, a bit of an overview about what is Payback and actually how does the program work and, and what is this brilliant ecosystem that they’ve created? Cause I think some of us have looked it up, but to some it’ll actually be newer. It’d be great to learn that.

And then also for Lidl Plus, which is a program that we are very familiar with in Great Britain. Big positive disruptor to the grocery space. But again, I think some of our listeners, it’d be really interesting. So if you wouldn’t mind a bit of an overview on payback and a bit of an overview on Lidl Plus, would be great.

Nicole: Okay. Yeah, no, no problem at all. So, so basically Payback, was established in, in 2000. So it’s been on the market for, you know, more than 20 years. And, I think what they managed to do is to, to connect or to, to find the partners in all different sorts of industries. So we always said that you know you need to be the first card in the wallet.

Right. You be, you need to be the, the dominant card in the wallet. Because at that time when, when the program was implemented, you, you didn’t talk about having your, digital wallet. You had a plastic card and, and Germans, I don’t know how it’s in Britain, but German, not their plastic card, right?

And then, this whole thing evolved and, and there was always this fight of, okay, how many cards can you carry in your wallet as a member or you want to carry? And that’s why, you know, companies really fought for being dominant in in the, in, in the customer wallet. 

Charlie: I remember those days, in Great Britain as well, between Tesco, Nectar and Boots were the three big programs who were vying for first place in the wallet.

And it’s so different now. Everybody wants to be the first app.

Nicole: Right, right. And, and so, so what they did, of course, first of all, they, they were first mover, and then they had, they had different sectors which are being used by, by a customer on a daily basis. So that is the grocer of course, that is petrol stations that is chemistry.

All these sectors, you need to make sure that you have at least one big partner. And, and then it just kept evolving. It kept evolving. 

Charlie: Wow. 

Nicole: With, online partners. It kept evolving with having the ability to exchange your points. So with paper you collect points and you can redeem them right at the partner.

But you also have redemption partners like Lufthansa where you can where you can actually exchange your points into miles. And so I think what really brought the success was that, you know, that they kept continuously thinking about okay, what can they do next? Right? What do consumers want, what does, do members want and, and what satisfies them?

But still right, it’s still a very transactional based program. And I mean bank itself as a brand really is emotional tries to really be you know in social media everywhere all the channels. But and again here my, my experience myself, being being part of a coalition program for a couple of years I think the partners need to play the program either in store, in online as well of course so in all their channels in order to also strengthen their brand and also to to strengthen the emotional bond with, with the with the customer.

Charlie: Yeah. 

Nicole: So, that I think is very hard for, for a service provider like Payback cause it’s basically a service provider who provides the service to other partners for a program to, to develop that ignore loyalty.

Charlie: Yeah, I think that’s something we see in the coalition. You know, the Nectar coalition here, it’s, it’s a much harder thing when you are talking about life rather than a solo brand play.

I think we saw some real disruption when Lidl Plus, you know, came into the grocery market because our grocery sector was traditionally very points based in Britain. And actually what we’ve seen in the last two years is a real shift actually away from points and actually Lidl Plus were the first to do it.

So as you say in Germany, you know, the first discounter, but also the kind of the first big disruptor. How does Lidl Plus work in Germany? What does the program look like there? 

Nicole: Yeah, so basically it’s an an app-based program and you can collect sort of rebates when you buy at at little right?

So the card but they also integrated for example scratch cards. So little features gamified elements which makes it more emotional to to keep the the customer yeah more engaged and to, to use the app. So use spread and you get maybe special coupons and so that is a really nice thing to do as well.

It’s easy to sign up it’s easy to handle. I think they play it well in their stores as well. So they really use wobbler. They have posters or they have signs for the program. I think that’s always what I mean like very important that in the end where, where you have a touchpoint with your customer that the program is played there.

To be honest, and I don’t want to be unfair on this side to be honest in this case like doing little games, doing stretch cards, doing special campaigns. I think the coalitions in Germany are also doing a good job there. So it’s not only Payback, it’s also Deutschlandcard which always tried to find new let’s say partner wide promotions, right?

So but you always need to find anything that fits for all the partners what they can implement and execute and then of cause it’s easier if you’re a single, brand program and it’s easier to find new campaigns or anything that that works especially than now for your. 

Charlie: Yeah, perhaps you can be a bit more experimental when you’re in charge of your own ecosystem as well, and actually kind of play with those features more than you can when you’ve gotta get everybody to agree.

The, the other program that you talked about that I thought was really interesting in the white paper was the Douglas Beauty Card and actually the fact they have a core program and then a paid for sort of version as. Well, and I think a lot of our listeners would be really interested to learn more about that program as well, you know, how, what it is and, and how it works.

And in particular, how they’ve introduced that paid for, component. 

Nicole: Yes. So I chose this third category because exactly what you said is, is basically focusing on first of all transactional as well. So you collect points towards vouchers that you can redeem in store or online.

So it’s basically like a cashback. Then they have this free status which is the first tier and they have a, a paid status so a paid loyalty program as well which is their second tier. And the second tier just offers you additional benefits, right. This is where they go more towards you get a special offers or you get special vouchers, you get invitations or recommendations.

So, with this second tier, they should they, they just give you more of  basic what you get, of course, in the basic tier. And what I like  with with Google is if you if you sign up for the program they really ask you they they guide you through two questions to basically collect data and get to know you more.

And like what’s your skin type or, you know what’s your daily routine in cosmetics and things like that. And and I think that’s that’s really, that’s really good what they’re doing because that gives you that value of data and and then they can basically personalize their offers more. Right? 

Charlie: Nice. 

Nicole: And that’s in the end, right? If, if I as a consumer or a member want to give data I expect that companies work with that data and give me back what I want to have and not, not like what everyone gets. 

Charlie: Yeah, I think that’s, I mean, that’s something we are seeing in Britain as well. One program I always talk about, I think does that particularly well is our, a pets at home, a pets retailer we have in Great Britain.

And they personalize it based on pet, age of pet type of pet and it’s very different the experience that you have and, and they really play to that. And I think that’s so important. So actually, of course you are more willing, to hand over more data about your pet in, in response for a better service.

And you, Edna, my pug completely rules my household. And she loves her pets at home, VIP treat. I do think of her as the VIP of the household. Is there anybody else in Germany doing that really well? Those personalized offers or perhaps that gamification or that paid for tier? We’re seeing a plethora of paid for tiers actually being experimented on by quite big brands in in, in Great Britain. Tesco sort of led the way. Marks and Spencers are just piloting it. Are you seeing much of that kind of activity in Germany? 

Nicole: I think yes because why, why do companies set up a loyalty program is for collecting data. So, of course all the other loyalty programs that are in place it can be Ikea or it can be in the, the DIY sector, right?

Or even hotels or Miles and More I know that, right? They, they really, they really collect the data in order to work with it and then give that personalized communication back and to really get to know the customer better. So you have loyalty programs where, where you really create personas which where you say okay, from what I see, what she’s shopping, I, I know that maybe she has a family, she has a baby, or she or he is I don’t know, single guy who just comes in store and picks up the ready salad. You know, like you know, from what they show, I mean, the brochures there have, have the best ability to to to really analyze the data. You can see who your customers are. And then vice versa, I think, it’s it’s really important that you give it back and you, you treat the member according to what he likes and, and, and which persona he is.

Charlie: Yeah, I think that’s really key and something that came out across all the experts actually in the paper. It’s been really interesting talking to you all as a community because one thing that comes out really clearly is, is get the insight, but then use it. Make sure that insight is actionable. So don’t just try and find out everything, but try and find out things you can, can really act on.

What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned about loyalty marketing? Because I think that’s probably one of mine from this paper actually. It’s actually find out the things that you can then do things differently. Based on, it’s been my my favorite bit of, of meeting you all, but what’s your most important lesson that you think you’ve learned about loyalty marketing over those two phases of your career?

Cause how fantastic to see it, you know, from both sides. 

Nicole: Yes. So I have, I have three, right, three most important lessons. One is and I have said that before, is get the basics right. So really solid setup of your program, is very important in order to have it stable and, and can constantly evolve it.

If you have a prog… program, please make use of it, right? Don’t, don’t you know don’t implement a program and don’t show it to the customer. And that’s another thing, which I see in Germany sometimes. I feel I really have to search on the website. Like I know they have a program, but you really have to click and it’s not, it’s not on the front, or it’s not on the homepage, right?

You really have to look for it. Same goes for, install some, some have retailers have a program but no sign, nothing. No one speaks about it. And then to be honest and that’s what I always say to my customers as well, that my clients to implement a program and not make use of it is too expensive. Right.

So, it’s it’s a complex topic. It’s it’s something where if you implement it you, you really should use it and, and work with it. And the third is of course, keep evolving your program. So don’t work what I often see is right the teams work towards that launch date and then after launch everyone’s like oh my God, we’ve got launch, right?

And so then, hey after launch actually then your real work. Because then when you work with them you test you you, communicate you as you said right? You try out little things cause you have to test and learn. I mean that’s most important within CRM, right? You have to, to do that whole test and learn cycle and, and learn from from the results.

And then change maybe the little features according to what the results told you. So those would be the three, lessons learned. 

Charlie: I think they’re great. I particularly like that last one as well, that real focus on continuous innovation and continuous evolution. I think loyalty is one of the, the few practices where people can experiment and you can change things and you can then make a, a quite a step change difference when you learn something meaningful about your audience.

Where do you get your inspiration for those changes? Where do you get your updates the new things that you wanna try, like what resources do you look to? Where do you, where do you find, find your your information that may then makes you think actually we should try that, we should innovate here. Like what, what does that look like? What are your secret sources? 

Nicole: Secret sources? No, basically, one of course is, is my network. So I have a network in in Germany but I also still have a network in the US and in the UK. So in the US through the Loyalty Academy, the Wise Marketer, where you get lots of insights. In the UK, through being a judge for the International Loyalty Awards. I, I do see a lot of, I get a lot of insights through applications and the discussions we have there. So that would be my number one. 

And then number two, basically you have great platforms, loyalty platforms where you can really get information on trends, insights. So again, here mentioning either the Wise Marketer Loyalty Academy or Loyalty 360 in, in the US. You have loyalty agencies, mainly IT service providers who who are an agency who, who provide the, the full service. Right. And, and they have great white papers. They have great, case studies. You can go through and, and get learnings. 

And I also like research companies. So Forrester for example, I always like to read through and then of course, anything around loyalty conferences that’s interesting. So the one, the conference this year which is the Loyalty Summit in Zurich is of course, a place to go or you have other conferences again here you have more on the US side. I’m not too much into, into the Asian markets so I don’t know if you, you have more insights there. I mean I guess they have also their, their loyalty summits.

And it’s, it’s worth going. It’s worth going to see, to get to know people to speak to to others who have also maybe work in the same industry have a program. And just exchange yourself and and you get new ideas always.

Charlie: I completely agree. That’s what made me want to commission this white paper and actually work on it with a community of experts.

Cause I think, you know, this year the, the world is changing so much. It continues every year, I feel like we’re saying, gosh, this has seen the greatest change and, and that continues. And I think it’s so important to look outside of your own sector and outside of your own market, you know, for inspiration. I think it, it’s been fantastic from a, a British point of view to look at all those different markets and we use a lot of those same sources too, you know, the platform providers, you know, the other, we’ve got open loyalty Voxwise, Antavo kind of featured in the paper as well. They’ve got great resources and, and great insight. And I think we all need to be looking out for, for inspiration from other programs as well. And you know, from actually outside of loyalty as well, but those conferences are invaluable.

I, I completely agree. Are there any innovations that you’ve seen recently or that you particularly admire or that you are particularly proud of? Is there anything, I know we’ve talked about it quite a lot on the podcast. I was like oh actually this is we’ve covered a lot in terms of gamification and personalization of offers, but is there anything else you wanted to call out that you’d like listeners go check this out.

Nicole: Well you know yeah we haven’t done all these let’s say emotional things talked about those but what I think really admire brands now investing in, in really in those leapfrog developments like artificial intelligence. So I mean it’s a big thing, right? Machine learning, artificial intelligence but it for me, it shows if a company goes towards that development, it shows that they have done their homework, right? They have their program set up and now they can really move it up again to the next level. And so that’s, I think something and, and I can see again in all these being at white paper or, conferences, expert talks. There is a lot of noise around it. I think, as I said, some companies might not be there yet to, to really go and work with it but, but definitely in the way forward. 

Charlie: Yeah, I agree. We work, we’ve got machine learning in a couple of the programs that we work on actually, and I feel that we’re at baby steps.

But it’s really interesting the kind of insights you can unlock, but then the things you can do differently as a, a consequence of these new capabilities that, you know, back in the days of the plastic card we’d have, you know, we’d have dreamed about and, and now it’s a reality. So as we wrap to the end of the podcast, is there anything else you’d like to share with our listeners today?

Nicole: Well, yeah. I said already, right. I think two things. If you have a loyalty program, I really ask like make use of it, right? And if you want to set up a program, I think it makes really sense to look out for those consulting, loyalty consulting firms or experts to help you because it’s a really, don’t underestimate the complexity. That’s what I would say.

Charlie:  Yeah. 

Nicole: Of a lot of program.

Charlie: I think that’s fair. I think anyone that works in loyalty will be like, yes, it’s tricky and there’s a lot to deal with, so get help 

Nicole: Tricker than you think. 

Charlie: Trickier than you think, right? How lucky for us. Alright, well look, you can, if any of our listeners would like to find out any more about Nicole Wilhelm’s work, then check her out on LinkedIn.

She’s in the white paper, which you can download from www.mando-connect.co.uk. And also, obviously you can contact her through the podcast as well. So thank you very much, Nicole, for your time today for your expertise on the German market. I think it’s a market that we all look to with 31 million members in the biggest program as well.

There’s a lot we can learn there in terms of scale, but also how to do transactional loyalty well and, and how to start to move to that emotional space. So thank you ever so much for your time today. It’s been an absolute pleasure and goodbye from Let’s Talk Loyalty. 

Nicole: Thank you Charlie, for having me on the show.

Paula: This show is sponsored by The Loyalty People, a global strategic consultancy with the laser focus on loyalty, CRM and customer engagement. The Loyalty People work with clients in lots of different ways, whether it’s the strategic design of your loyalty program or a full service, including loyalty project execution.

And they can also advise you on choosing the right technology and service partners. On their website, The Loyalty People also runs a free global community for loyalty practitioners, and they also publish their own loyalty expert insights. So for more information and to subscribe, check out theloyaltypeople.global.

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