#226: Virgin Red - Where Customers Genuinely Come First (Short Summary Show)

In today’s short summary episode of Let’s Talk Loyalty, Paula Thomas looked back on her conversation with Virgin Reds Chief Marketing Officer, Kelly Best who shared exactly how Virgin is prioritising its customers throughout their new Virgin Red Program.

Virgin realised that customers really dislike when their loyalty points expire, so they created a programme where that would never happen!

Another key principle is how Virgin Red ensured its program is accessible to all of its members, creating an affordable and appealing partnerships with dozens of small businesses, supporting them while ensuring rewards were easy to reach for its members.

Listen to this show to learn more about how iconic brand is truly prioritising its customers in its group-wide loyalty program.

Show Notes:
  1. Virgin Red
  2. Kelly Best
  3. #84: Virgin Red Loyalty Programme Launches in the UK
  4. #195: Virgin Red – The Red Thread Connecting the Virgin Brand Globally

Audio Transcript

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


Hello, and welcome to this week’s short episode of Let’s Talk Loyalty. An exciting review of my conversation with Virgin Reds, chief marketing officer Kelly Best. When I talked with Kelly in early 2021, Virgin had just rebranded and relaunched their new group-wide loyalty program Virgin Red.


Virgin, of course being one of the world’s most respected and diverse brands. Operating the Virgin Atlantic Airline and Virgin Cruises in the travel sector, along with a multitude of other businesses, such as wine, and now even space flights. Kelly explained that across the businesses, Virgin really made it a point to listen to their customers and put them first for their new Virgin Red Program.


For example, Kelly shared her favorite statistic at the beginning of the show that 83% of consumers said they never wanted their loyalty points to ever expire. So Virgin Red found a way to build that into the proposition. Even though I’m pretty sure it was complex to put in place, given the financial implications of holding that loyalty liability indefinitely in the business.


Another great idea that Kelly shared was how they made the program really accessible for all of its members. As we all know, travel awards are the most valuable and the ultimate reward for most people. But not everyone has the budget or the interest to save up enough points for a flight or travel reward.


So Virgin Red created an affordable and appealing option of a premium sausage roll from the brand Greg’s. A brand whose products are really well-known and loved by British consumers. It’s a wonderful idea especially with Virgin itself, being such an iconic UK brand, partnering with another one with similar values and appeal, and yet in such a completely unexpected and different industry. Along with a halo effect of that partnership members realize then how easy it is to get their awards. It’s perfect for those consumers who want the option of instant gratification. And as loyalty professionals, we all know how important it is for that first redemption to really be a joyful process that builds members trust. So then they’re more likely to engage and save for even greater awards in the future.


It’s also important to remember that Virgin red was really launched right in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. So most of us weren’t able to travel anyway. This meant that right from launch, their new program members had at least a small way to get a reward they would love. And of course, I’m sure it was incredibly memorable.


I can really imagine how many people enjoyed the bragging rights, telling each other about their free sausage roll, which by the way, was available both in traditional pork or a vegan option to cater for everyone. 

Another thing I loved about the new Virgin Red Program was a partnership they created with a Canadian company called Carbon Engineering, where instead of spending their points, members can donate them to help offset the global carbon emissions. It’s a perfectly relevant solution given the global climate. And of course, we’re all looking for ways that we can be part of the solution in this whole area. Finally, Kelly talked about how Virgin was partnering with dozens of small businesses. So loyalty members could spend their points on products made by smaller companies.


Some of them with just a single person operating them. It’s a really great idea. And also I think perfectly on brand with Virgin’s entrepreneurial spirit to again, support the SME sector. Virgin Red was still in its infancy in this conversation. And for anyone who’s interested in this program, you can listen to that full discussion at letstalkloyalty.com/84.


And we also recently went back and chattered with Virgin Red for a second interview to showcase their recent expansion of the Virgin Red Program across the pond to the United States in March 2022. So again, you can listen to their latest news on letstalkloyalty.com/195. 

So that’s two wonderful episodes for you to listen to all about Virgin Red.


That’s it for now. Thanks a million for listening to today’s episode of Let’s Talk a Little Loyalty.


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


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


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