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“Competition is the biggest challenge in loyalty marketing”

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MUMBAI: With retail chains, international labels, new airlines and hotels entering India in a big way, the brands are trying to woo consumers interestingly. One way in which brands are connecting with consumers more efficiently is by getting in to loyalty marketing. Loyalty marketing, which is considered to be personal, is now trying to use the power of technology in a big way.

To understand more on this,indiantelevision.com recently met with ICLP India general manager Mark Spicer, who has been in the loyalty and incentives industry for over two decades now. Spicer spoke about marketing during tough times, the potential of loyalty marketing and much more...

What according to you is the size of loyalty marketing in India?

It can be noted that the current size of loyalty marketing in India is around $1.5 billion, as of the beginning of this calendar year. The numbers are expected to shoot up and one can expect double digit growth by end of the year.

What are Indian brands doing right by getting into loyalty marketing?

Many Indian brands have started interesting initiatives using loyalty marketing. What brands now need to focus on is to take communication to the next level. According to me, this is the right time when brands can jump into the picture to grab the attention and confidence of consumers. Today, consumers’ expectations have become dynamic. It will be extremely difficult to track their moves if you are not focused.

What makes you say that it is the right time for loyalty marketing to take off in India?

The changing market scenario is the major reason why I think brands should be keen in gaining the confidence of consumers. The Indian economy is showing a slowdown and this is an apt time for brands to jump in. Loyalty marketing has an immense potential in an emerging market like India.

It can be observed that with an increase in inflation rate, consumer decisions are most likely to fluctuate. How can loyalty marketing help brands sustain themselves?

The first step that brands should take during tough times is to clearly understand their consumers. The task that brands should put on their list is to make clear the road plan. Consumers like being valued. Also, it can be noted that brands need to make communication individual-specific. All this can happen only when brands start getting engagement in marketing. Consumers look for alternative product lines during inflation. Brands need to consider this as an opportunity and make the best use of it.

Many brands use personal media such as social media and mobile in their loyalty marketing mix. Don’t you think this can intrude on a consumer’s privacy?

Brands should give consumers the liberty to choose their medium of communication. Consumers are choosy about where they receive their marketing messages. Even though permission marketing exists with emergence of social media today, a lot of communication reaches a consumer at a faster rate.

Consumers today have better control on communication. Brands need to map a costumer’s journey in loyalty marketing. Having said that, it is necessary that brands take note of how many times a message reaches a consumer and the medium through which it is sent.

What are the challenges loyalty marketing can face in a diverse market like India?

Competition is the biggest challenge in loyalty marketing. With cultural and political diversity, brands need to cater to different needs and deliver memorable experiences to consumers. It is also important for brands to keep on par with the ever evolving technology.

Does talent in India have the right skill sets to take loyalty marketing to the next level?

Talent in India is rich; what needs to be taken care of is to groom them to put data in the right context. Also, talent here can take learnings from other markets to sharpen their skills. The future looks very positive and bright.

Marketing to millennials is a hot topic of discussion these days. How do you think loyalty marketing can deal with millennials who are believed to have a variety of choices?

While dealing with millennials, it is necessary to think ahead of time.  Marketers need to be instant in the way they communicate and need to speak to them in the tone that they understand. Most importantly, data needs to be used smartly to understand their psychology. Marketers also should embed technology in their line of communication.

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