#446: Understanding Loyalty in Ireland & The European Loyalty White Paper

This episode focuses on the loyalty market in Ireland, featuring expert insights from Leanne Papaioannou.

Leanne is the Founder and CEO of Chilli Pepper. She has extensive loyalty experience and is deeply passionate about every aspect of a business that impacts customer loyalty and drives better commercial outcomes for her clients.

She is an internationally renowned customer loyalty professional who has helped countless forward-thinking companies achieve new heights by adopting her customer-centric B2C & B2B loyalty strategies.

Her strengths lie in innovative strategic thinking, exceptional leadership skills, and an ability to work with company boards to deliver commercially successful, award-winning, loyalty strategies.

She is a new contributor to the extended European Loyalty White Paper created by Mando Connect in partnership with YouGov, which explores loyalty membership, appeal and impact across 24 European Markets.

Listen to learn some key loyalty insights and about loyalty innovation in Ireland.

Hosted by Charlie Hills. 

Show Notes :

1) Leanne Papaioannou

2) European Loyalty Whitepaper

3) Mando Connect 

4) YouGov

5) ⁠Chilli Pepper

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.

Just before we share today’s episode, I want to ask you to sign up to the Let’s Talk Loyalty email newsletter. Our email newsletter is by far the best way for us to keep you up to date with all of the latest incredible loyalty stories we’re sharing each week. It’s also the easiest place for you to find our show notes with links to everything mentioned in all of the episodes.

You can sign up at letstalkloyalty.com.

Charlie: Hello, and welcome to episode 446 of Let’s Talk Loyalty. I’m Charlie Hills, the Chief Strategy Officer for Mando Connect, WPP’s loyalty specialist partnerships and rewards agency. We have created a white paper in partnership with YouGov that explores loyalty, membership, appeal, and impact across 24 European markets. And I’m delighted to be hosting a series of podcasts featuring European loyalty experts to help listeners better understand loyalty across Europe. 

Today, I am delighted to welcome Leanne Papaioannou, the Founder and CEO of Chili Pepper. She has extensive loyalty experience and is deeply passionate about every aspect of a business that impacts customer loyalty and drives better commercial outcomes for her clients.

She is an internationally renowned customer loyalty professional who has helped countless forward thinking companies achieve new heights by adopting her customer centric B2C and B2B loyalty strategies. Her strengths lie in innovative strategic thinking, exceptional leadership skills, and an ability to work with company boards to deliver commercially successful award winning loyalty strategies.

She has provided the expert commentary on the Irish market in the extended white paper. Today, we will be learning about Leanne’s favorite loyalty programs, what the loyalty landscape looks like in Ireland, and which of the programs to watch. I hope you enjoy our conversation today.

So welcome Leanne, I’m delighted to have you on the Let’s Talk Loyalty podcast today. Thank you so much for joining us. 

Leanne: Oh, thank you, Charlie. It’s been years since I’ve been on. So it’s a real honor to be back on Let’s Talk Loyalty and also to be speaking with you today. 

Charlie: I know, rather than Paula, it’s it’s very exciting and it’s a great honor to be filling those considerable amazing podcasting shoes. I’m thrilled to have you here and I’m sure, I know that all our listeners are going to be so excited to hear about all your experience and your expertise in the Irish market. It’s that market when we did the research to see it come number one across, you know, 24 European markets was really quite something to behold. So thank you for your time today. Really excited to get into it with you. 

As we always do, we’re going to start with our mutual friend, Paula’s favorite, favorite question. So tell us about your favorite loyalty program, you know, which program really stands out there for you and what do you like about it and what do our listeners need to know?

Leanne: Oh, Charlie, you know, it’s so, so fascinating because there are incredible loyalty programs around the world. But the one that I always keep my eye on is Discovery Vitality in South Africa. It is heads and shoulders ahead of many, many, many industries. And I was very fortunate recently to sit on the South African Loyalty Awards judging panel with Amanda Cromhout and the rest of the judges and reading through their award entry, yet again, sent tingles and shivers down my spine because of their level of innovation, their commitment to the customer, and there’s singular purpose to really reward healthy behavior. 

And what I find so fascinating about Vitality program is which other brand in a financial institution across the world would be able to actually say that they have  positively impacted people’s lives in that way. So when we, as loyalty experts look around the globe, we can always learn from every single loyalty program that’s out there, but with Discovery Vitality, there’s an essence to it that I think has really connected with people emotionally, and I think really changed their behavior.

So in my opinion, it’s the number one behavioral change loyalty program out in the market. And it is extremely exciting to watch them innovate and not ever rest on their laurels. They constantly innovating, constantly listening to their customers and really driving that, that connection with them. So, you know, in loyalty, it’s, it’s one thing to be able to say we have a points program or we have, you know, gamified mechanic, but when you look at something that really creates that change, I think it’s, it’s world class in my opinion, passionate enough about it. 

Charlie: Honestly, it’s such a fantastic model. And I think, you know, from previous podcasts, I’m a huge fan of brand appropriate reward for brand appropriate behavior. And when you link it to a higher purpose that has such a brilliant brand customer and business effect, it really is a win win.

And I’m very jealous that you’ve got to judge those awards because I know there were so many fantastic case studies that you get to see, and it’s my favorite thing about judging. You get, you can learn and take such inspiration from those brilliant case studies, can’t you? 

Leanne: It’s so true. 

Charlie: So as well as being a judge at the awards, you tell us a little bit about your role in loyalty. You know, what do you do now and, and what’s your journey been in our industry? 

Leanne: Wow. So I started my journey in loyalty years and years ago in South Africa, actually. So when I arrived in Ireland 20 years ago, I did a really good review of what was going on in Ireland. And I’ll get into that as we go through the podcast today to give you some background into the Irish loyalty landscape.

But there wasn’t really a lot going on at the time. And so this idea of being able to bring Ireland’s first loyalty consulting company into the market was both brilliant as an opportunity and scary because it was a case of really trying to educate kind of businesses on the power of loyalty and connection.

And so when I started chili pepper 18 years ago it, it was a journey that we took with it and subsequently, and, and God willing to my team and my amazing clients and all of our providers that we have, we’ve created a business that has stood the test of time and really being part of the makeup and the creation of many of the loyalty programs in the Irish market.

So a great journey from being an immigrant into Ireland now supporting the Irish rugby team and, you know, being very proudly Irish to be ask by yourselves to actually contribute as the expert in this report that we’re going to talk to today is, is really quite honoring. So, thank you, Charlie. 

Charlie: Oh, well, no, thank you. And thank you on behalf of the Irish loyalty market, in all honesty. I think 18 years in, you know, you’ve seen it from its very foundations to the really sophisticated model that it is now. What are some of the favorite programs that you’ve worked on in those 18 years? Some of us know the Irish market reasonably well, because we look to as examples. I’m sure many of our listeners are unfamiliar with, you know, many of the brilliant programs there. Like what are some of the ones to look at? 

Leanne: So definitely the one I’d say was pretty unique at its time was Circle K’s Play or Park. So it was the first ever gamified ongoing gamified loyalty program launched in the retail industry in Europe. And so the reason why it was so unique is you were taking a category like fuel, which is a real grudge purchase. And you were looking at it through the eyes of moms trying to fill up with their kids in the back or, you know, how, how they navigated that, or even just the, the idea when we were chatting to a woman about, you know, their hands smelling of fuel and how much they hated it, you know, there was so many little grudge purchases in it.

And so to create a loyalty proposition, a loyalty strategy that was going to put a little bit of fun into the scratch purchase was quite unique and very brave of the organization to take that approach when at the time it was very much, you know, spend a Euro, get a point or fill up with a liter, get a point.

They took it in a very different direction into this gamified space. And so not only was it game changing, excuse the pun, game changing in its mechanic, but it was also game changing in so far as members could collect their points and actually use them to play competitions, to get access into these once in a lifetime competitions. And even if they didn’t win, they would still get a treat. So a free coffee and a pastry or a free water and a, and a, and a fruit bar or, you know, a fruit pot. 

So it, it just changed the dynamic of filling up in Ireland. And so. Being the first in Europe to have this ongoing mechanic, I watch programs that are kind of entering into the gamification space or trying to use participation and engagement as a way to connect with customers always is something that I would say, I think Circle K were streets ahead of that as far as gamification goes. 

Charlie: No pun intended, but yes, they were streets ahead on many levels. And I think that trend towards gamification and focusing on the experience of the loyalty program is something we’ve seen rocket in the last sort of couple of years to see them having that mentality from the outset is is really interesting to behold.

Tell us a little bit more about the white paper that you’ve contributed to. Cause obviously we started it with an overview of seven markets across Europe and actually a big ambition of mine is to get all 24. And so, you know, to get to the number one market is really important. So tell our listeners about the Irish market, you know, what’s so great about it? What’s good in the research that you’ve now contributed to?

Leanne: Well, I always knew that Irish consumers were advocates, advocates of loyalty and, and always wanted to belong to many loyalty programs. I think as Irish consumers, any chance to actually get that added value or be part of something was quite high on their list.

What absolutely surprised me and I was so delighted with the, with the report that Mando connected in conjunction with YouGov was actually to see that the Irish consumers are the most loyalty engaged in any of the European markets that you researched in. So fascinating for us to see that 75 percent of Irish consumers belong to a loyalty program, 69 percent of them think that it had belonging to a loyalty program or award program is the right thing for businesses to do. Only second to  Great Britain yourselves, where it was 70%. So absolutely brilliant. 

And then the last was really that 45 percent say that membership to these programs actually makes them loyal. So it does have an impact into their purchasing behavior or into their emotional connection with the brands. And so when we look at this in comparison to other European markets, it really shows that Ireland punches way above their weight for such a small country. We actually have huge affinity to brands and huge affinity to being members of these programs, which I think is both great for us to see as loyalty experts, but also for the brands that are working on the Irish markets to really get a handle that there is a desire for consumers in the Irish market to belong to these programs.

Charlie: I think it makes the Irish market a really attractive market across Europe, actually, because as you say, you’ve got that holy grail of membership appeal and impact, all working really closely together in that market. So, I always get asked, you know, from one market to another, you know, what can we learn from that market? Actually, what really stands out in Ireland? 

And, you know, some markets are not facing, you know, that, that Those three factors working together. We’ve got some markets with really low membership, but high appeal. We’ve got other markets with really high membership, but, you know, fairly disastrous impact and appeal. And as we work through, we’re learning a lot from each of the different markets. And I suppose we would hold Ireland up as one of the exemplar markets in Europe, you know, what’s going right in that market?

Leanne: So I think in order to answer that question best, it might help to give you context and give the listeners context to the Irish market. 

So 30 years ago, Mr. Feargal Quinn started the first loyalty program in Ireland, and it was actually the first supermarket in Europe to create this technology based loyalty program. Up until then, we never had loyalty programs in Ireland. So that was just 30 years ago. So subsequent to that, his whole ambition was to love the customer.

So he created this new philosophy in Ireland, which was the customer is number one, we have to love the customer. And so it took a couple of years for the momentum to get going. But because of that foundation of where Feargal Quinn started and that ambition to love the customer, Irish consumers have become a lot more accustomed to programs, but with the ambition of that brand really showing the loyalty to the customer rather than it being first and foremost, the customer showing the loyalty to the brand. 

And so now whether you’re walking into a supermarket, a beautician, a coffee shop, a fuel retailer, an energy provider, many, many, many of our brands now have loyalty programs. So when you’re looking at an electricity provider an example, obviously, the cost of living crisis and cost of energy at the moment being so high, you’re going to look to see where you can get that added value. So what are the things that we can learn as a result of that? We can absolutely learn that in this market, loyalty programs are a plenty.

So that as loyalty experts makes you stand back and say, what can we do to truly connect with that customer? What can we do to change that relationship that we have with them and to really stand out from the crowd? Because if you just come in with a with a similar program to the one that’s already there, you’re not going to get the cut through that you need.

And the second and I keep going back to it is what is the purpose of the organization? Is that organization holistically thinking about the customer in everything that they do? Loyalty programs are not a plug in. Loyalty programs have to be central to who that brand is and be central to what they believe.

And so, we see many programs not working because it might be a plug in loyalty program, but the rest of the organization is not living and breathing that. So I think it makes us have to work harder and stronger and stand on the side of the customer to ensure that we’re creating loyalty, propositions and strategies that are going to be meaningful to that customer. Otherwise, it’s just another card or just another app on their phone, and it’s not going to drive that behavior change that we’re looking from them. 

And then I think the third thing really is from within the organizations’ board, the board’s impact and the board’s directive is very, very, very important. So loyalty propositions and loyalty strategies are not marketing plays. They’re not just from the marketing department. So when we deal with brands who are brave and ready to really take loyalty as a central pillar of, of who they are and what they’re going to do. My number one thing is always is there board buy in because that board buy in will determine the level of success that any loyalty proposition has.

And when you look at the international market and you look at the best players in loyalty, it’s the board, it’s the senior leadership team across all of the different departments that are saying, how, how’s the loyalty program doing? What is it telling us? What’s the data telling us? What’s the feedback telling us? It’s that level of commitment and buying that actually drives the success of those loyalty programs through. So yes, Ireland has this great kind of consumer cohort that love loyalty programs, but as loyalty professionals and as businesses, we have to hold that really close to our hearts and make sure that we’re doing them proud and doing ourselves justice to ensure that we can actually create something that they want to belong to.

Charlie: I love that thought. I think that’s so interesting. Sometimes you get markets that just look in isolation or retailers that look in isolation as a program and that’s such a broad ranging answer, isn’t it? It’s like, actually, the population is engaged. The brands are engaged. The senior management is engaged.

And I love that core thought. We saw that in the Nordics as well, actually, that this is such a sophisticated, saturated market. That you’ve really got to have your best game, right? If you’re going to launch a new program or run an existing one, it’s got to be the best it can possibly be so that you get that stand out and cut out. You can’t really launch with a me too, or, you know, something that’s a bit beige that you haven’t really put your heart and soul into. I love the breadth and depth of that answer. That’s great. And I love that the standard is so high. And I hope we’re not scaring off any new brands who perhaps are one of the laggards who don’t have a program in the Irish market.

You know, it’s like raise your game, look at the best of the best and then go one higher. That’s an awesome kind of call to action. We certainly saw that in the British loyalty market with the rise of Little Plus, I think many brands would have been scared to launch a loyalty program in grocery. The rules were so set, you know, we’re a few years into that program now, but actually came in with such a positive disruption mentality and they’ve completely, you know, knocked it out the park. They’ve smashed their results. So that’s a really interesting program. So yeah, don’t be afraid listeners. If you haven’t got a program, you’ve just got to come in with a real insight. 

Leanne: And I think that you’ve said two things in which I love Charlie. One is the insight and the two about being afraid and I’ll touch on that one in a second. But the insight is, you know all of us know that loyalty programs are built to deliver for that consumer and engage with their consumer, but very few people actually ask the customers what they want and what they’re looking for and what would help them engage in order to unpack the insight that is that main motivating factor.

And so really been close to your customers and speaking to them and trying to create. And you mentioned Lidl Plus it, that came from a direct insight into, we could look at the market, we could look at all the sectors, we can look at all of these different competitors and say, how are we going to create something unique, or we could speak to our customers and create something that they really are going to engage with. And that’s how you can create that cut through.

From an Irish perspective, what’s interesting is that even though it is I don’t want to say cut it all the time, but it’s, it’s quite a comprehensive. We’ve got quite a, quite a comprehensive group of loyalty programs. What we’re now seeing is the second coming off them.

So you’ve got loyalty programs that have been there for 10 or 12 years, and those brands are coming back to Chili Pepper and saying, I know you wrote it 12 years ago or 14 years ago, but what can we do that’s better? How can we bring it forward? What must we change? How can we improve it? And I think that’s the second thing that I would always say to clients is this is not a one and done. This is a one and done for right now to get everybody engaged, to get them on board. But then you’ve got to constantly evaluate it and see what is working. And don’t be afraid to pull something out that’s not working and replace it with something that is better.

And I think that’s where that journey of constant evolution is coming from. And even in Ireland, we’re seeing brands coming back again and saying, okay, we tried physical cards only. Now we’re going to get rid of the physical cards and we’re going digital first. So it’s that opportunity for them to actually create something that is so incredibly unique for their customers to get them engaged.

Charlie: I love the idea of the second coming. So you’ve got, you know, the new programs coming, but also all the existing programs thinking actually, how do I raise my game? I think we’ve definitely seen that in the British market. We’ve definitely seen that in the German market, definitely seen it in the Nordics as well. It’s almost a, a step change as everyone sits back and goes, right, how do I, how do I raise my game here? How do I do better? 

What other trends are you seeing? I know we talked about a lot of them in the paper, didn’t we? You talked about sustainability, which is a subject I’m really passionate about as well. You know, how can programs do better in that space, but what else are you seeing in the Irish market? What trends should sort of loyalty marketers be aware of? 

Leanne: So love that you brought up the sustainability piece because I think what we’ve really unearthed is that in many organizations, they have the ESG agenda and then they have their marketing departments and then they kind of have loyalty on the side.

And what I think is so impactful and powerful now is these organizations saying, if we have an ESG agenda, how can we use the loyalty strategy, the loyalty program to really engage. Now, many people are having these conversations and I come out in hives. This is not greenwashing. This is about being truly authentic to who you are as a brand and making sure that you’re telling the customers that are engaged with you, what your commitments are.

So it’s not standing up on the side of, you know, on the side of the streets and shouting that you’re going to achieve this target. It’s about given your customers the opportunity to help you achieve those targets in small, manageable ways. 

And so sustainability started with the coffee shop saying, oh, we’ll give you extra credits, you know, if you bring in a reusable cup we see our, our, our largest, a luxury retail clothing brand or department store in, in Ireland called Brown Thomas. They are now actually giving additional points. If you buy from the sustainable edit range, which I think is fantastic. 

So what we’re, what we’re seeing with sustainability is that there’s this very fine balance between it being something that is genuinely authentic and using loyalty to help deliver it Versus just the greenwashing side. And I think we’ve all become very aware of the difference between the two and I think from a sustainability perspective, it is where we are all thinking.

I just want to give you a quick sidebar. I was in Lucky Town yesterday and I went to Lockheed Tan, Molton Brown and Jo Malone, because they’re all next to each other just to see what they were doing from a sustainability perspective. And Lockheed Tan is now offering their aluminum refillables for six quid. It’s cheap as chips. You go in, you put it in, you fill it up and off you go. Molton Brown has just started with their aluminum refills for your body washes and what have you. And when I got to Jo Malone, which is beautiful brand, I said, do you have a refill for the diffuser? And they said, not yet. We’re getting there.

So there are three brands. All at different stages of their journey. And I am members of all of their membership programs or loyalty, depending what you have, but I hadn’t really been told yet exactly what they were doing. So that is a beautiful opportunity to take that kind of bricks to clicks or clicks to bricks, where you’re telling the community that’s either shopping online, who don’t have the chance to get into store, what you’re doing or driving them back into store to say, come in and refill these piece. That’s authentic. That feels genuine and that feels like they’re doing it in the right way. So very excited from a sustainability perspective to see where we’re going to go with that. 

Charlie:  Yeah, me too. And I think those are lovely examples of actually showing how loyalty is such an important part of the brand ecosystem. And actually we’ve seen that across all our markets that people want to be part of the conversation, they want the information, but they also want that credibility and those proof points. I think, you know, 10 years ago, you could sort of select an environmental charity and enable your members to donate some points to it if they wanted, but the expectations are so much higher now, you know, they want to see it in the product and the service in the comms and in every sort of touch point of the brand.

So that’s lovely. It’s also made me realize I need some new hand cream and actually I must go and get my my refillable one and get set for winter. Otherwise. I’m going to be all scaly and sore. So that’s a lovely image on many levels. 

Leanne: I love it. I think it just shows you how we’re becoming very cognizant consumers. And, you know if, if you, if you on that journey, bring us along, you might not be there yet. But try and tell us how you’re actually going to, to kind of help us engage with you in that way. And, and I think that’s, I think from a social, social on ESG, but also from a social responsibility perspective, it all ties in beautifully.

And so I’d love global brands to look at ESG, not in isolation, but say, how does ESG drive our loyalty proposition or how can loyalty proposition help assist in us delivering on our ESG kind of objectives and ambitions. So bring ESG into loyalty more is what I’d say. 

Charlie: I completely agree on every level. So we’ve talked there about a few programs that actually really stand out for you and I know you called out three in the paper actually, as to programs that people should really be aware of. So we’ve talked to Play or Park, but do you want to talk our listeners through the other two programs that you sort of called out as exemplars in their sector?

Leanne: Yeah. Okay. So, on the back of Vitality and Discovery, as you can imagine, which is, is, is my benchmark of amazing in Ireland, we actually have Irish Life Health, which is our health provider, and they launched a gorgeous app called my life. And again, this is a behavior change program, and it is a way, whether you’re, whether you’re, customer of theirs or not, you can actually partake, which I think is a very interesting and wonderful and brave thing for an organization to do, which is this is our loyalty play, but come in, get involved whether you’re a customer of ours or not. 

And again, it’s tracking healthy behavior. It rewards members in the right way and ultimately it is genuinely connecting to everybody being, or Irish people being a healthier society in, in general. So I think it’s a really, really, really good one to look at. What I always say, and it’s kind of my raise on Detroit, Charlie is participation is the Holy Grail. And the reason why I say that is because any program that engages with its members, gets them to redeem more, gets them to get more value out of the program gets them to, to, to take part in events or anything that is outside of that transactional behavior or that transaction is actually what is going to create a sustainable long term proposition for you as an organization. 

And so when we look at the my life, loyalty program. It is all about participation. So for me, the more they use it, the more they engage, the more they participate, the more they value it. And therefore, your customer attention goes higher. Your RMPS, TNPS and NPS scores go higher. So all of these things are connected to this level of participation. 

And so we see a lot of companies saying, Oh, great, you know, we want to do all these rewards, but can we afford to actually you know, if they all redeem them, I’m saying we want them to redeem more. We want them to get the value out. None of us want huge balance sheets, if you’ve got a points program. We want them to engage and we want them to redeem. So I think as far as participation goes, the my life app is a really, really good loyalty program. 

Charlie: I love that idea as well. That virtuous circle about engagement driving more value for everybody and long gone are the days where everybody was looking at breakage and just hoping nobody redeemed. We want those people active. We want those engaged. 

What about another P that’s really important to that program? Partnerships. I know that’s a big part of the behavior change modeling. What sort of role does that play in driving that engagement for that program? 

Leanne: So in Ireland because we are a small country, what happened in the first soiree of loyalty programs was that you would have a brand and they would go and they’re trying to get all of these different third parties on board and they would whack it into a program and that would be, you’d just be pushed out into the market to say, if you’re a member of our program, you can take advantage of all of these different rewards. What happened is no matter which loyalty program you went on to, you landed up getting exactly the same rewards. Okay. So there was a dilution. 

Charlie: That’s a challenge in a really small market, right?

Leanne: It is. It really is Charlie. And it’s, it almost dilutes that core proposition for you as a, as a brand, it’s dilutes it because where you’re, where you’re trying to create this behavior change in your customers and show extra value and added value, they can now get access to it everywhere. 

So what we’ve seen in Ireland is a move from third party only rewards to core rewards. Okay. Where the companies are going, hang on, there’s value in what I’m actually offering. There’s tremendous value from our customers getting more of what we currently offer. And then looking for the right strategic alliance partners, those brand partners that you’re talking about, Charlie, that Mando Connect do finding the right partners based on the relationship that you have with them, with the customer. And again, and I say this wholeheartedly, do they match your purpose? Do they match your values? Do they match what your customers are expecting of you? And those partnerships, those connections that you make with those strategic alliance partners can put you into a completely different level.

In comparison to all of these programs, which are just here’s a suite of 20 rewards that are duplicated across many different programs. So, in my opinion, less is more to do fewer partners, but brilliant partnerships where you can really connect with them and make sure that you’ve got this variety of tangible, emotional, experiential rewards that people can actually redeem and take advantage of across both core and non core. 

Charlie: I couldn’t agree more. I think again, those early days of how can we get as many partners as possible in non exclusive partnership agreements and sort of wrap it up as a reward have gone. You know, we’ve seen a lot of that enter the British market and then we’ve seen a lot of it leave the British market. And I’m reliably informed that that’s a trend actually happening across all of our European markets and actually at a global level as well. 

I think there’s a real recognition that partnerships is such an important part of loyalty, but actually they have to be strategic, they have to be curated, they have to be brand aligned, they have to be exclusive, and they have to add to your core program experience not be detrimental to it. Now we’re completely aligned there. And I love the fact that that’s such a brilliant program for having, you know, partners as part of it. 

What about the other program that you wanted to talk as well? Cause there was a number three as well?

Leanne: You’ve segwayed beautifully. And this is actually a business to business loyalty program. So in Ireland, we’re seeing the rise of business to business loyalty programs done brilliantly. And one of them is actually Dulux Paints Ireland. And Dulux Paints Ireland would obviously distribute their paints through retailers. Out to their trade decorators and painters. And Dulux’s challenge was that they actually couldn’t connect directly with that decorator because that decorator was coming into their local store, purchasing their paints and then leaving.

And so we worked with Dulux to actually create this first strategy where it was about working with these retailers, connecting with them, and then actually, ultimately getting the details of that decorator and working with the retailers to hero the retailer, but also to influence that behavior with the decorator.

And so what you actually see from a rewards perspective is that these painters and decorators who are incredibly dedicated days, they’re the ones that are up at four o’clock in the morning, traveling to your house to get ready to paint it. You know, they have a lot to deal with some brand a branch that I say, Dulux was actually recognizing and rewarding them for how hard they were working and for choosing Dulux paints over any of the competitors. So all of a sudden now, Dulux had a very different relationship with the painters and decorators than any of their competitors would. 

And when you talk about rewards and how you reward a painter and decorator, you have to look at it through the insight of they see themselves as both business owners and consumers. So it’s what we call the Gemini effect. There’s 2 sides to them. But 1st and foremost, you like to say, okay, our relationship is a professional relationship. It’s a business to business relationship. So we have to look at their trade and say what is important to them. 

So if you’re going to buy our paints, if you’re going to engage in our program, if you’re going to participate, what do you want in return and things like fuel vouchers or, you know, van washers or insurance or ladders, telescopic or Makita radios or anything like that from a tangible perspective that was going to help them in their day to day life with their job is first and foremost, the priority from a rewards perspective.

So Charlie would be saying, can you get us some details on how we can connect with a Makito or, you know, it’s some, some big range like that, where there’s huge, huge value placed on it from the decorators perspective, but Dulux are still within their lane. I’ve been able to have that business to business relationship.

And then the other side of the Gemini is they’re really hardworking guys and girls. And so they do want to be able to treat their wives to, you know, a trip away or whatever the case may be. So finding a beauty select what we would call personal rewards that are still meeting the values and the parameters of the organization, i.e. Dulux. 

So you might partner with somebody like an Aer Lingus where now they can take their family on holiday if you want to, but the positioning of those rewards is really important because as Dulux, we know the lane that we’re staying in is always that business relationship first, and then being able to partner with other brands that actually fit from a personal perspective is great. If that flipped on its, on its head, if it became too personal, you know, too many personal rewards, you would actually lose the balance. And, and that decorator would kind of go, am I a consumer or am I a business relationship here? 

So having that balance is really important. So anybody who’s looking to B2B loyalty, it’s one of my favorite things to do in the world is B2B loyalty. It is so fascinating because the behaviors and triggers are so different. Go and have a look at Dulux trade points. It’s, it’s really stunning and a great success for the organization. 

Charlie: Yeah, I’m so interested in B2B loyalty. I think it’s one of those areas where it was always the sort of the second one that everyone thought about and actually B2C really dominated. But actually B2B is fascinating. 

And from a strategist point of view, I love it because you have so many more audiences. You’ve got the retailer, the customer relationship, as you say, that duality of insight between me as a person at work and me as a person with a life. And where are those lines? We do a lot of work in this space with Vodafone and it’s one of my, it’s one of the most fascinating programs that we work on and we find the sweet spot is actually, as you describe it, the Gemini is when we can hit the center of that Gemini.

So when we can hit the reward that is brand appropriate, work appropriate, but actually enables the individual, should they choose to wish to, to use it in their personal life or their professional life and things like that have really been some of our most effective rewards. We did a fantastic partnership between Nespresso and Vodafone looking at small office, home office organizations and actually a partnership that was all about coffee and the coffee machine and that was one of our most successful.

And I just think it had that glorious duality. It had the Gemini effect, which is now how I refer to it as it was great for work, but it was also great for home. So yeah, such an interesting area and I’ll definitely be checking out that program. 

Leanne: That’s a great example, Charlie, because you feel when you say, so I’m both customer of both those those, those brands that you mentioned. So I go straight away to me. I go, that makes sense. I get that. It doesn’t make me feel like why is my mobile phone provider offering me, I don’t know, free discount on child seats, like a car seats that there’s this connection between my business account and my personal account and as loyalty experts, if we can find that sweet spot, that’s where you really get that traction, you know, 

Charlie: There we go, listeners. The Gemini effect, you heard it here first. So, I mean, that’s a big learning for all of us that work in loyalty. And actually, I, you know, I probably have worked in B2B for probably a couple of years before we started to call about it as that duality. What are your other big learnings in loyalty? What else should our listeners know?

Leanne: Oh, gosh. I’m going to kind of circle back to where it’s something I mentioned earlier, and this is about the board commitment. You know, We really do work with incredible, incredible brands, but one of the first questions that I ask when they approach Chili Pepper is where’s this coming from? And who’s driving it?

Because when there is this commitment and this absolute foresight from the board or from that C suite, you have a different energy going into projects, large scale projects that you feel like the organization is actually going to live and breathe this and deliver it. So my biggest lesson for anybody starting out on a loyalty journey or looking to refresh their loyalty proposition is to really, really, really take stock as to whose ears do we have? As part of this, who are we actually speaking to, who at the C suite is a believer in this, and how many people do we have to convince that this is the right thing to do? 

Because if we look at it through the lens of it not being a plug in, but actually being a central play, as far as that organization goes, genuinely the customer has to be front and center. So I would say, look at, look at the board level, look at that commitment and buy in and make sure that you have it first and foremost, is definitely what I’d say. 

Secondly, genuinely from so many years of working with clients, it’s not a one and done. Constantly look at ways to improve it. Excuse me. Constantly look for ways to improve it and make sure that you can always prove the value back. 

And then the new thing that I don’t think a lot of loyalty program managers are looking at is really the use of hyper personalization in a world where we are so conditioned to just getting communication or emails in a way that it feels very generic. It’s not going to be the case for much longer. And I think when we look at loyalty programs. And we look at that relationship that you’re building with customers. We have to say you as an individual, Charlie, how are we communicating with you? So using that data not only to communicate directly with individuals, but also using it to truly understand the impact that it’s having on that brand and on that that’s, that organization.

Because ultimately we should All have our dashboards in front of us saying, how is this program performing? How is it delivering to the bottom line? So nothing makes me happier than when my clients say, can you come in and meet the board and speak to them and, and show the results? And really show the impact? Because it’s it, it’s a commercial play. 

Loyalty is about connection with the customers, but ultimately it’s about driving that bottom line. So my lessons would definitely be bored 100 percent and making sure that you’re keeping up with this new level of communication and hyper personalization. I say new, it’s been around for a long time, but genuinely asking yourself how good your program is at that level of hyper personalization is, is really important when you look at behavior change programs.

Charlie: Yeah, I think that’s been such a big theme at all the conferences, at all the events, at every webinar feels like it’s in that space at the moment, isn’t it? It’s how do I harness the opportunity of this new technology, but not tip over into scary or creepy or actually, you know, made inferences based on behavior.

And it’s, it’s real wrestling match, I think, for us all at the moment to try and understand how to get it right. And I’m really excited. You know, most of the programs we work across are experimenting. So we have some things that are live, some things that are in action, but a lot of testing going on at the moment.

And I think that’s really interesting and actually linked to what you’re talking about there in terms of always innovate, always push the bar. You know, it’s not a one size fits all and you’re not one and done, you know, you’ve got to keep moving on. So I think that’s great. Three really good learnings.

When you’re looking outside of your sphere and your clients and your market, what kind of resources are you using? We always like to ask our, our experts, you know, where should our listeners be going to? What sort of resources are you using to make sure that you’re staying, you know, as far ahead  as you are?

Leanne: Thank you, Charlie. I would say Let’s Talk Loyalty. I think what yourself and Paula, or Paula and yourself and the rest of the team have done has revolutionized our market. You know, I really do show my age when I say Chili Pepper has been here for 18 years ago. 

But when I was thinking about this question, I had to giggle because I remember the wise marketer 18 years ago, the only way that you could get access to the information was an investment. I think at the time was about 3000 pounds to buy this report and it came in three sections and it was a print and it arrived at my office and it was the physical copy. Do you remember it?

Charlie: I remember it well. You and I were probably one of the few who read all of it, and it’s a fascinating resource. Incredible, actually. You know, my CLMP certification is, you know, quite central to my, you know, my loyalty expertise and I love it, but it was a lot then, right? Now it’s very digestible, fantastic format, you know, great to kind of read, but you think back to those days, it was a commitment. 

Leanne: It was a proper commitment and I couldn’t have a walk with my headphones and read that at the same time, whereas Let’s Talk Loyalty, I think, has been a game changer for our industry and I think that it’s allowed so many more people to get access to this incredible wealth of knowledge.

I think the format is incredible. So all of my team and I, we are walking with Let’s Talk Loyalty in our ears all the time. So I think it’s a great resource. Yeah, absolutely. So a big fan of The Wise Marketer. I think they’re absolutely excellent, but I tell you what I’ve really enjoyed recently was the book Winning on Purpose. I don’t know if you read it yet. 

Charlie: Oh, no, it’s my list. 

Leanne: Absolutely brilliant. Winning on Purpose is something really excellent and, and he was the, he was the founder of the net promoter system and something that is, is quite fascinating when you see it through his lens of how the, the, the industry and how the markets might’ve misunderstood what his true intention for, for NPS was.

So Winning on Purpose comes back to everything that we’ve been talking about, which is whether it’s a loyalty proposition or a customer experience strategy or an engagement strategy. What is that central purpose of your organization? What is the why behind what you’re doing? And then how can you actually elevate it through any of these, these levers and these strategies?

So I’d highly recommend it as a book. I found it brilliant. And so I’m always keeping an eye on the new books. And I definitely will be reading Amanda Cromhout book when that comes out. I can’t wait for that. So that’ll be another great resource for us all. 

Charlie: Yes, I’ve told you I’ve got a copy of Blind Loyalty on my desk. I’m going to be taking it on holiday with me for a good read. And I will be adding Winning on Purpose to that list. As I look at my bookcase now, it’s a really interesting combination of books about data, books about how to present data and infographics, and then kind of loyalty theory and updates. Then with a few bits on behavioral science and marketing, so those will be excellent additions to the to the collection.

So as we move to the end of our chat are there any other sort of new innovations that you’ve seen that you’ve really admired that you think people should go and check out or anything else you’d like to share with our listeners at this point? 

Leanne: I’d love to, Charlie. So Decathlon Ireland has just dropped their new loyalty program. It is brilliant. Go and check it out. So, all the things we’ve been talking about participation, engagement, experiential, emotional rewards, all of these things are actually being captured in the Decathlon’s new loyalty program. 

So some of the things that they’ve innovated on it is instead of a 30 day, returns policy. They’re doing a 365 day returns policy, which I think is amazing. They’re doing free access to all their AstroTurfs, basketball courts and studios for any of their members. They’re doing free sports classes, big events with, with kind of sporting heroes to engage their members and also giving all the customers free EV charging stations outside their stores.

So a lovely take on their membership program, where of course you’ve got your transactional own and burn mechanic, but outside of that, they’ve elevated it way more into the emotional and experiential space, which I think is something absolutely brilliant from that perspective. 

And then the second one, we mentioned that there is really Amanda Cromhout CEO of Truth in South Africa, with the launch of her Blind Loyalty Trust. So I would urge any loyalty program managers out there who are looking to really connect and give ways of donating their points to actually connect with Amanda and her team and see if there’s a way that you can support through donations to the Blind Loyalty Trust.

Charlie: Oh, I think that’s a great sort of second piece. And it was wonderful to see Amanda, you know, get celebrated and recognized at the International Loyalty Awards for everything that she’s achieved. So yes, everybody, do please check that out. And we will include the links in the bio, which leads me on to my final question. Thank you so much for such brilliant contribution today. That’s fantastic case studies, insight and ideas and a lot for us all to go and follow up on as well.

 If any of our listeners have questions for you, how can they best find you?

Leanne: Oh, you’re very good. Thank you, Charlie. Get hold of us. You can look at us up on chilipepper.ie, or you can just contact us through LinkedIn or even leannechilipepper.ie. Easy as can be. 

Charlie: Fantastic. And we’ll make sure we include all of those links in the bio notes for anybody who wants to check it out. And obviously Leanne is very active on LinkedIn and we’ll be promoting this episode there as well.

Well, look, all that’s left for me to do is to say thank you very much from Let’s Talk Loyalty. It’s been an absolute pleasure.

Leanne: Thank you so much, Charlie, for the opportunity. 

Paula: This show is sponsored by The Loyalty People, a global strategic consultancy with a 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.

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

And of course, we’d love for you to share your feedback and reviews. Thanks again for supporting the show.