It is important that brands take the customer and their concerns seriously. The time for just pleasant talk is over, as the trend ‘Storydoing’ shows; not words but deeds are what customers expect. In addition, consumers want brands to be committed to the environment and take a stand on ethical issues.
In 2023, the trend ‘Ethics & Sustainability’, along with ‘Positivity’, will become one of the most important customer engagement & loyalty themes. Trends that have already been identified and can no longer be ignored are ‘Gamification’ and ‘Premium Loyalty’. Consumers also expect brands to really think with customers and actually help them.
Within the ‘Really helping’ trend, brands become real friends of consumers. Finally, a somewhat strange duck in the mouth: the ‘NFT’s’ trend. Now that the hype is over, there are countless opportunities for brands to successfully extend the physical world to online with NFTs. A ‘dark horse’ in customer engagement in 2023. The 8 trends are described in more detail below with a few practical examples to illustrate.
These are dark times. Crisis after crisis piles up. A war is raging not far from us. No wonder people crave positivity. And that positivity can go viral, as evidenced by the Low Battery Festival that Bol.com offered Lieselotte after making a mistake. Not only Lieselotte, who received the concert, enjoyed it, but also 1.5 million people via YouTube within a month. By 2023, marketers and advertisers will embrace positivity in their campaigns. As with humor, the difference between top or flop in positivity is a thin line.
2. Ethics and sustainability
Consumers are attracted to companies and brands that stand for something and that will only increase in 2023. As a company, you can no longer stand on the sidelines. As a company, you have to speak out about social problems. Nike has always done this very strongly in previous years.
Sustainability can no longer be ignored and will only become more important in 2023. How do you translate sustainability into customer engagement? Cosmetics company Lush does this in the following way: it offers small jars of hand and body lotion that consumers can use to try these products. Lush donates the profits to small organizations that want to make the world a better place.
That gamification does not always have to be standard and predictable is proven by Barilla’s ‘pasta timer’. The well-known pasta brand launched a Spotify playlist that corresponds to the time you need to make pasta. Surprising, fun and fitting for the brand. This is also what the consumer expects, gamification that fits the brand and its own perception. For example, Playstation came up with a loyalty program that breathes gamification, with levels, benefits and rewards.
4. Real help
In 2022/2023, consumers expect brands to bring more than just their product or service. They expect brands to really help or at least think along. A good and socially responsible example is ‘True name’ from Mastercard. ‘True name’ allows transgender and non-binary people to put their chosen name on their Mastercard. An initiative that started in the Netherlands and is now being used throughout Europe. It is also possible to combine positivity, in this case fun, and really help. For example, Red Band together with Nationaal Fonds Kinderhulp helped 5,000 families in poverty with the Zomerpret campaign to have extra fun in the summer.
The time for ‘Be nice and tell it’ is over. Now ‘Be good and show it’ applies. So no words, but deeds. It doesn’t necessarily have to be stilted, as MyHeritage’s time travel machine proves. MyHeritage tells you who your ancestors are, where you come from. To bring it to life, there is the AI Time Machine. A fun feature that uses artificial intelligence to create images of people as they may have looked in different periods of history.
6. Premium Loyalty
Premium Loyalty is not new, but it is evolving rapidly. Loyalty can’t be bought, but at the same time, consumers today are willing to pay for additional extras and rewards. Amazon was a trendsetter, but now you can also pay at Bol.com and Albert Heijn for fast and free delivery and other benefits.
The American Lululemon goes a step further and sets the next trend in Premium Loyalty: the company asks customers to pay for extra benefits. What they get next isn’t bad: Tens of thousands of workouts, discounts on purchases, access to events, and more. This is how they have grown from a successful retailer to a super successful tech company where data has become extremely important. They do not think in terms of products, but based on the customers’ lifestyles and wishes and thus claim a complete domain.
Although the gloss has now worn off for speculators, NFTs are still in their infancy in customer engagement. If agency creatives take it seriously, the NFT trend may just take off in 2023. A traditional Dutch company that has already taken its first steps is PostNL. They have launched the very first crypto stamp. It works like this: it’s a stamp that consists of two parts: a physical stamp and a digital twin that you can collect. In addition to PostNL, companies such as Redbull Racing and Louis Vuitton are also active with NFTs.
8. Data-driven loyalty
Data-driven loyalty is about matching customer interests with the right mix of experience and rewards across all customer journeys. A good example of using data to reward customers is Staatsloterij’s action around the ISU World Cup in Thialf. All players who have shown interest in prizes, games, discount offers and polls around the theme of ‘sports’ and ‘skating’ in the past 2 years have received a good offer on tickets. Of all orderers, 90% came from the selected group, and they also had significantly higher open rates and clicks than the control group.