Loyalty Programmes have gone far beyond coffee stamps and money-off vouchers as a way to reward customers. Innovative, forward-thinking brands are constantly finding ways to connect with their customers in a far more meaningful manner and in some instances are helping customers to be healthier, boosting their fitness and even saving lives.

How do you incentivise customers to stay with a brand? It’s a question as old as sales itself, and one that gets harder to answer as consumers are bombarded with endless, competing offers and with many brands enticing them with better deals for switching, rather than staying.

The question therefore, is whether it’s possible to set yourself apart and have a truly meaningful relationship with your customer? Maybe even improve their lives?

“Points for action,” is a key trend that is being delivered through inventive Loyalty Programmes around the globe. It’s a way for brands to reward customers for taking action rather than just for their spend, ensuring that customers are engaged beyond their usual transactional relationship with them.

The first tranche of “points for action” refers to actions that directly relate to the brand; filling out surveys, for instance or, more recently, signing up for emails, following on social media or commenting on blog posts.

A number of companies are going much deeper than traditional transactional and points for action loyalty routes – blending their Loyalty Programmes in with healthy habits that are nurtured and maintained by mobile tech in order to drive higher levels of participation from customers: and as we know, participation is the Holy Grail for successful Loyalty Programmes.

Loyalty Programmes now often involve helping customers to make better life decisions: They’re not just enjoying the brands more, but they’re living, eating and even driving safer.

And because these Loyalty Programmes are built on good living, they’re ones that their customers want to continue. Benefits for customers in these Programmes go far, far beyond money-off vouchers. They deliver an exciting element to their Programme that rewards customers for action – constantly driving engagement and participation.

Walgreens Balance Rewards – rewarding wallets and hearts

Not surprisingly, one of the biggest pharmacy chains in the world is using ‘Points for Action’ as a key pillar of their Loyalty Programme by combining desirable habits and mobile tech to reward customers for taking action.

American chain Walgreens has started to reward customers not just for purchases, but also for positive life choices. Points are given for engaging in good habits, like staying active (walking, cycling or running gets members 20 points for every mile), monitoring blood glucose and quitting smoking.

walgreens Balance Rewards exampleWalgreens’ Balance Rewards Programme focuses on health awareness and positive action activity and as it is powered by iconic health site WebMD. The app can monitor a customer’s activity like distances travelled and workouts and, once points are earned, customers can redeem them for money off in store.

Other brands have gone deeper still – creating a broader and more thorough programme that links in with partner brands to offer even more ways for customers to stay healthy…

Discovery Health Vitality Programme – healthy habits with a virtual assistant

In South Africa, financial services provider Discovery Health launched their ‘Discovery Vitality App’ to support consumer relationships and their healthier good choices. This app tracks fitness and training, maintains fitness-related social networks (such as running groups) and adds and collates points for regular, positive lifestyle decisions. But the benefits ripple beyond the Discover Health brand.

The Discovery Health Vitality Programme goes even further by tapping into healthier choices at grocery stores by giving members points for making the right choices when they are buying their groceries each week: Members are offered discounts and points on a huge range of over 6,000 products that Vitality has identified to help enhance their customers wellbeing and reduce the risk of chronic diseases. All manner of fruit, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and good fats are included, so customers can enjoy almost unlimited variety for less and get rewarded at the same time.

Points earned across all of the customer’s healthy choices can be redeemed for money-off vouchers with numerous Vitality partners, such as cinemas, clothing stores and restaurants. Customers are highly engaged with the brand – after all, they’re using their Loyalty Programme and app to get rewarded for every healthy decision that they make.

With a broad approach to overall healthy living, The Discovery Vitality Loyalty Programme engenders a warm relationship with the brand, while simultaneously encouraging good habits that go far beyond what the company can offer directly. The company becomes a positive influence and a helping hand. In other words, it becomes a friend and helps customers to stay healthy – exactly the kind of relationship that people want to have with a business.

Samsung S-Drive – building relationships and saving lives

One of the most innovative and ambitious Loyalty Programme that we have seen in a while is  the ‘Samsung S-Drive Programme,’ which had a pilot launch in Australia.

Prior to the launch of the S-Drive Programme, traditional, scare-based safety advertising had proven ineffectual in reaching young Australian motorists, so Samsung implemented a carrot-based approach instead. A specialised phone cradle and app were made available to young drivers.

The cradle and app automatically switched the phone to safe driving mode; allowing only voice commands for texts and calls. It also logged safe driving distances and rewarded these safe distance milestones with points which could be converted into vouchers (for items like tech products and fuel).

Samsung sDriveGroups of friends were encouraged to work together, and their collected points could be redeemed for experiences, such as travel vouchers and tickets for sporting events.

The Programme’s results were startling, with over 3 million safe kilometres travelled, motor accidents in the region down 25% and fatalities (among 17-25 year olds) down 20%.

This is a perfect example of a win-win situation: It was a clear, tangible demonstration of the capabilities and benefits of Samsung’s product. It also showed how using the product – and taking part in its points-for-action mechanic – improved the lives of a whole community.

Vulnerable young drivers improved their motoring habits, lives were saved, and a meaningful and immensely positive relationship was formed between the public and the company.

Nike – exercising good ideas

Even if a company isn’t strictly using Points for Action, many of the principles can still remain; encouraging healthy living and nurturing a positive association with the brand.

Nike is a perfect example of a brand that instils healthy habits. They were one of the first out the gate with a popular, branded app, and their Nike+ Training Club app is used by over 18million people worldwide.

The app tracks activity, connects customers to friends and coaches, and links to social media: A 6am run is something worth sharing, and Nike+ users can do so with the touch of a button.

Celebrity workouts and endorsements help maintain the app’s profile and positive message, such as the workout (and accompanying viral videos) devised by comedian Kevin Hart and tennis icon Serena Williams.

Obviously encouraging people to use exercise products encourages them to buy more, but it’s about more than that: Nike+ builds and maintains a wholesome, ongoing relationship between consumer and brand that drives engagement far beyond the initial purchase and into working for a healthier, happier life.

Tarte <3 Rewards

Make-up brand Tarte Cosmetics used their loyalty programme as a way to incentivise social media engagement and user generated content on social media platforms.

In this social media age, where algorithms are constantly changing, brands are coming up with innovative ways to increase their social media reach and engagement, without the need to pay the platform huge advertising rates. One of these ways is with user generated content.

Tarte have capitalised on this trend by incentivising user-generated content and social media engagement with loyalty rewards points for activities such as posting a selfie with Tarte products. Customers can earn rewards points for these activities and social media engagement, essentially transforming them into brand advocates.

Points for Action – designed for life

The best Loyalty Programmes take a broad, lateral approach to customer relationships: They’re there to help, not to pester or ask too much of the customer. They exist to engender good will and to deepen the relationship between customer and business. And, if they’re really effective, they can even have a positive effect on the world at large.

These customer loyalty strategies help shape customers’ lives for the better and as a result, drive massive positive participation.