We often speak about member participation as being the holy grail of loyalty programmes – getting more customers to engage with your programme means higher levels of commitment and loyalty. So will the integration of mobile into your loyalty programme help you achieve this?

With a generation of mobile-comfortable, digitally-enabled customers who are using their devices as a lifestyle feature and who are often panicked when separated from their mobile devices, we believe that the time has come for brands to actively start looking at ways that they can link the progressive channel of mobile into their existing loyalty programmes.

Early on the US paved the way with mobile integration into loyalty and in the survey called ‘Seizing the Mobile Marketing Opportunity’ conducted by Soundbite in the US, it concluded that over 70% of the loyalty programmes in the US  have a mobile element in place or in development, with 86% of them stating that their efforts for integration into loyalty have been successful.

The study lists the top five benefits that these companies have seen through the integration of mobile into their loyalty programmes including:

  1. Ease of use – For both businesses and customers.
  2. Reachability – Always accessible to their customers.
  3. Quantifiable – Accurate response rates.
  4. Immediacy – Quicker interaction with customers.
  5. Interactivity – Engage with customers in the way that they enjoy.

A few short years later and Ireland has started to follow suit, and more and more companies, such as Arnotts, SuperValu, and even Leo Burdocks are hopping on the mobile integration train. If you haven’t started to integrate mobile into your loyalty strategy yet, to inspire you we have three examples of companies that successfully integrated mobile into their loyalty programmes to drive customer participation and engagement.


In Colloquy’s special report called ‘The Relevance Resolution’ they give us an insight into Citi Bank’s loyalty app called Point-Sharing that allows the bank’s ThankYou Rewards members to pool their rewards points with their Facebook friends, and then redeem them for group rewards.

Members link the Point-Sharing App to their personal Facebook page and can then create a rewards goal (either for a group or an individual), invite others to join, and designate how many points to donate to that goal. Members can then post public Facebook updates on goal progress.

In a move that is sure to be copied, Citi Bank has created both a super-charged way to reach members and potential customers and a catalyst for learning about customer behaviour. To find out more about Citi Bank’s integration, go to thankyou.com.


The Ritz-Carlton Hotel have a brilliant loyalty app that far exceeds the functionality of the basic hotel apps that are available.

The main features include, managing your Ritz-Carlton loyalty rewards accounts, making room reservations and accessing valuable VIP insider information through the Presidential Tips section. Herve Humler, who is President of the luxury hotel group, has helped enrich the guests’ experience by sharing informative, real-time information that he has gathered during his own travels around the resorts.

To further engage with customers, the app makes extensive use of quick response codes across the 20 hotels that currently provide various QR code-based tours on their properties, for example:

  • The Ritz-Carlton New York, Battery Park, when serving its signature 10-year anniversary cocktail on a napkin that features a special QR code. The code, when scanned, reveals the cocktail’s recipe, which guests can take home with them.
  • The Ritz-Carlton in Kapalua, guests are able to join a Cultural Art tour that is led by QR codes, which allows them to learn more about the hotel’s impressive art collection.
  • The Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong, which is listed as the world’s highest hotel, enables guests to know more about wine pairings that would suit their chosen meal.
  • At the Ritz-Carlton in Berlin, young guests get to enjoy a mobile scavenger hunt led by QR codes that give them the clues along the way.

This is a fantastic example of engaging with customers throughout their travels. To experience this for yourself download the Ritz-Carlton App at RitzCarlton.com/App.


Starbucks introduced their mobile payment technology that can be used on iPhone, Android, or Blackberry devices across all of its stores in the US. The one-touch mobile app allows customers to enter any Starbucks coffee shop and pay with the money that they have preloaded onto their Starbucks loyalty card. As the app is linked to the customer’s loyalty card, they are able to redeem their rewards, i.e. a free beverage, when they scan.

In an interview with U.S. News, Adam Brotman, chief digital officer at Starbucks said “A lot of our customers have their phone in their hand when they come into our store and we knew that customers were increasingly more mobile and were increasingly using their phone as a primary computing device.”

It has been reported that after a year in operation, customers made 45 million mobile payments and that it is now averaging on a million transactions a week.

With its great success in the States, Starbucks decided to roll out this technology across all of their stores in Canada and the U.K.

Speaking to Pocket-Lint.com, Brian Waring, VP of Marketing & Category for Starbucks UK and Ireland said: “Customers want to be served quickly, but fewer want to use cash. We wanted to find a way for them to pay in the quickest way possible. Because our customers want it, we have created our own custom built mobile payment technology rather than waiting for the near field communication technology, which is currently not widely available. We’re always thinking of new ways to add value to our customers and give them more reasons to choose Starbucks.”

A few of the features of the Starbucks app include:

  • Ordering your favourite beverage by simply opening the app, activating the on-screen bar code by holding the phone near the price scanner next to the cash register.
  • Customised “drink builder” that can save customer’s favourite combinations.
  •  A store finder, using geolocation software on their phones to alert them when they’re within walking or driving distance of a Starbucks.
  • Customers can also opt to receive updates from the company via email and text message.

These are some wonderful examples of how brands are integrating mobile into their loyalty programmes and we hope that this has inspired you to do the same.


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