The APAC Customer Loyalty Report 2022 provides a deep look into prevailing customer loyalty and loyalty technology trends in the region
The APAC Customer Loyalty Report 2022 provides an in-depth look into customer loyalty and loyalty program trends and sentiments in the Asia-Pacific region, from the perspective of current and upcoming loyalty program owners. The report is recommended for all brands, no matter whether they offer a loyalty program, are planning to launch one, or are in the process of a revamp.
This report is based on a global survey of over 320 corporate respondents from all regions of the world and compares the global results with data specifically provided by Asia-Pacific respondents. The report also pulls data from 6.3 million APAC-specific member actions tracked via Antavo’s Loyalty Management system, additional insights from APAC loyalty experts, and interviews with respected industry professionals.
The APAC Customer Loyalty Report 2022 is meant to be a sanity check for the C-level marketing community.
It will help decision-makers compare the current state of Asia-Pacific loyalty programs with global trends in order to identify growth opportunities for their upcoming loyalty project.
Whether you are a long-standing player in APAC or plan to enter the market, this report will give you the insight you need to switch your loyalty program into high gear and stand out from the competition.
“Recent years have brought digital transformation to an unprecedented level.
This change has given way to new innovative solutions, such as next-gen loyalty programs. But how can you ensure the concept you’ve come up with for your new or revamped program is up to par with industry standards? That’s where this report can help.
To help brands and retailers navigate this challenging market reality, we have compiled an insightful loyalty report that not only represents loyalty statistics through the eyes of current and future loyalty program owners, but also compares the state of Asia-Pacific to the global numbers published in the Global Customer Loyalty Report 2022. This includes a look at the current landscape of APAC loyalty programs as well as a deep dive into how loyalty technology and strategy have been adapted in the region.
So get ready, because it’s time to switch to higher gear!”
Loyalty programs have proven to be a cornerstone of the digital transformation that followed the Covid-19 pandemic. Retailers saw loyalty programs as a way to differentiate themselves, while eCommerce companies used rewards and incentives to keep nomadic customers. But how did companies in the Asia-Pacific region evaluate the state of their loyalty programs? In short: they had mixed feelings.
According to survey responses collected by Antavo, in the APAC region:
Overall, the answers provided by respondents from Asia-Pacific indicate a higher level of development in loyalty programs, but these program owners are less satisfied. This may suggest that ambitions and standards are very high in the region. Despite being less satisfied, the desire to revamp the program is still below the global score, though two-thirds of loyalty program owners are still planning to update their programs.
One of the reasons behind Asia-Pacific’s disposition is its consumers, who are very keen to embrace loyalty programs. For instance, in Southeast Asia, about 92% of customers are more enticed to shop where a loyalty program is part of the deal, according to a survey by Mordor Intelligence.
However, the same research indicates that lack of awareness is a serious challenge when it comes to reaching mass adoption. Facing a sea of offers from a plethora of brands, customers have a harder time identifying the loyalty programs that cater to their needs the most.
Struggling with awareness could be a potential reason why fewer Asia-Pacific brands are explicitly satisfied with their program’s performance.
Simultaneously, challenge breeds innovation. APAC companies may seek to stand out by focusing more on engaging program elements, such as emotional rewards. This potential is backed up by the fact that significantly more businesses in the region classify their loyalty program as emotional, compared to the global average.
“The pandemic has significantly shifted consumer behaviour across industries in APAC region.
With fast growing ecommerce adoption, social media and internet penetration, consumers can easily compare and evaluate products and services. This is where it becomes imperative for businesses to consider the emotional dimension, not just transactional, of their programs.
Further, loyalty engagement should start at the pre-purchase stage. From pre-purchase search, research, purchase and post-purchase experience, businesses need to align their loyalty strategy to influence consumer behaviour across these events. Companies who can do these well, coupled with the ability to harness the right customer data and insights and orchestrating the right action in the right time and channel, will have the best chance of success.”
The Asia-Pacific loyalty management market is considered to be highly competitive, as it is populated by a large number of businesses, both large and small. The concentrated nature of the market pushes players to adopt strategies like product innovation, partnerships, and mergers & acquisitions to stay ahead of the competition. In regards to loyalty programs, Antavo’s APAC Customer Loyalty Report 2022 survey identified the following insights among Asia-Pacific companies.
These findings further underline the statement that loyalty programs play an important role in APAC companies’ business strategies. Organizations in APAC have not only made significant development efforts on them in the past years, but they also intend to keep investing in customer loyalty and program management in the coming years.
One particularly noteworthy finding is that fewer APAC companies are measuring their loyalty program’s return on investment (ROI). This may be an indication that, due to the crowded nature of the market, loyalty programs are viewed as a hygiene factor, a must-have item on the marketing strategy checklist.
The lack of tracked ROI also contributes to the neutral satisfaction with the programs.
Without clear, insightful reports on the program’s performance, it is difficult to judge its success, which could be the reason why so many APAC respondents feel “neutral” satisfaction toward their programs.
Another possible explanation is that many of the loyalty programs in Asia-Pacific are meant to build emotional loyalty, and the success of this initiative is harder to track.
This conclusion is backed up by another region-specific characteristic: 30.3% of respondents offering a loyalty program classified their program as more emotional than rational. Emotional loyalty focuses on long-term engagement and community building, which cannot be quantified as easily as ROI.
“Speaking of budgets for loyalty technology in APAC, we need to be mindful that, for many of these markets, budget will be a critical consideration – especially for the less developed markets.
What is deemed “affordable” in developed countries may not be so in some smaller developing countries. While implementing a loyalty program is a significant investment, many businesses realize that customer retention strategies are significantly less expensive when compared to attracting new customers.
Having a well-designed and well executed loyalty program could help generate revenue from loyal customers and lower the cost of acquisition and attrition. This could be why businesses in APAC are more likely to increase their investment in loyalty marketing.”
Digitizing is crucial to engaging with consumers and adding value to their loyalty experience. There is much more that can be done in terms of curating experiences for each individual customer and maintaining regular two-way communication. But even though Asia-Pacific is undergoing digitization at a rapid rate, how companies in the region are prioritizing personalization and relevant communication deserves a closer look.
The survey responses paint an interesting picture of personalization in Asia-Pacific. The region falls behind the global trend when it comes to loyalty programs that are currently offering some form of personalized offers or rewards. Upon closer inspection, this low number doesn’t stem from the averseness of existing program owners, but rather the tech-readiness of the region.
The fact that personalization was ranked behind the need to implement or upgrade a marketing technology is quite telling: the success of personalization hinges on a number of factors, all of which require a serious investment in marketing technology.
In other words, APAC companies are most likely in a stage where they are laying down the tech foundations for their future personalization concept.
This is further underlined by the responses concerning future plans: 57.6% of APAC brands said that they wish to introduce personalized rewards and offers in the future. In this sense, Asia-Pacific brands rank above other markets in the industry.
When asked about what features they are planing to add to their existing loyalty program, APAC respondents ranked gamification in first position, followed by rewarding customers outside of the buying cycle and offering personalized rewards and offers.
This means that despite a desire for personalized loyalty program offerings, it still ranks below gamification and non-transactional engagement.
In conclusion, it can be stated with relative certainty that despite seeing the value of personalization, brands in Asia-Pacific are either in the process of establishing the technical foundations for it, or have prioritized other features, like gamification.
Still, a few years down the line, a major shift is expected for the region.
A group of experts was asked to share their insight about the state of personalization on the APAC market.
Here is a rundown of their responses:
Strategy isn’t the only area worth investing in to improve the capabilities of a loyalty program. And in this new customer reality where buyers are keener than ever to try new brands, a significant foothold can be gained by being an early adopter of emerging technologies, such as augmented reality, AI-driven churn prediction, or blockchain. Loyalty programs have the potential to create new experiences by utilizing the right solutions, but they also have a day-to-day management side that needs to be taken into account when discussing loyalty technologies. Respondents shared the following opinions.
For Asian-Pacific businesses, having the most up-to-date, most reliable, and most user-friendly technology has a major significance, and companies in the region are far more tech-focused than others.
This commitment is demonstrated by the fact that almost one-third of respondents stated that marketing technology implementation or upgrade was their most important investment for the coming years. As such, it ended up being the highest-voted loyalty program investment.
Furthermore, APAC companies made it evident that they want to have the best technology out there. Their desire to equip their marketing team with the right tools — including no-code capabilities to make daily management more efficient — seems to correlate with a previous finding, where upgrading marketing technology ranked as the most important investment, with 30.3% of respondents planning to invest in it.
“Today’s customers will invest in companies that make them feel important. For this reason, loyalty programs should go beyond simply practices and instead offer unexpected perks, giveaways or insider insights.
But as customer demands continue to rise, companies must find new ways to stand out from the competition. And this is where technology comes into the picture.
With today’s advancements in technology, it’s possible for brands to be where customers are, fast. This is a game-changer for most organizations as they can implement tech to do the mundane tasks and allow their human agents to focus on what truly matters: customer satisfaction. Also, investing in the right tech for a loyalty program is just as important as the program itself. These new, tech-empowered strategies will result in customer retention and potential revenue growth. So investing in loyalty programs is a fool-proof way to make customers feel valued.”
In order to further evaluate the past, present and future of loyalty programs in Asia-Pacific, respondents were asked to share their thoughts about what loyalty program trends will become the most influential in the next three years and about the most pressing challenges they currently face.
Respondents were asked to select what they believe was the most important loyalty trends over the next three years. Then their answers were ranked.
This ranking further strengthens the idea that, for APAC companies, the ability to collect and use data takes precedence over personalization.
Once the data is gathered, it can be used to fuel personalization, which is why it ranked only as the second most influential trend. One possible reason why seamless omnichannel loyalty experiences received fewer votes is that accomplishing comes with a lot of challenges, therefore it may have less of an impact than smart data use or personalization.
For current program owners in APAC, offering a seamless omnichannel loyalty experience and experiential rewards are high-priority challenges, most likely because they are seen as a potent trend in the near future.
Furthermore, marking the integration of loyalty marketing into the company’s strategy and measuring its performance is also likely to correlate: companies that aren’t properly tracking their program’s ROI are likely to find it challenging to integrate the program into their overall marketing strategy.
Among companies planning to launch a loyalty program in the next three years, the need to collect and use customer data ranks higher compared to both the global trend, and the trend among existing program owners in the region.
One possible reason for this is that many companies that are planning to launch a loyalty program are upstart businesses wishing to gain a foothold on the market. However, their relative freshness makes it more difficult to accurately segment their developing customer base, as they lack sufficient data.
A group of experts was asked to share their insight about the future of loyalty programs in the Asia-Pacific region.
Here is a rundown of their responses:
Adoption is greater, but so is competition
In the APAC region, the loyalty program market is much more crowded, which makes it extremely difficult to stand out. Compared to the global trends, more businesses expressed neutral satisfaction towards their program. As a result, many companies are trying to break out and garner attention by using their loyalty program to engage with their customers and build long-lasting relationships.
Loyalty now, personalization on the rise
Brands in Asia-Pacific are fully aware of the potential of their loyalty programs, and they are actively seeking new ways to innovate and differentiate themselves. Companies are also aware of the need for personalization, but at the moment they are preoccupied with laying down the required technology for offering personalized rewards and offers, are in the planning phase, or intend to implement other features, such as gamification, beforehand.
Stronger in tech than anywhere in the world
For APAC brands, the number one investment priority is upgrading or implemening the right marketing technology. When it comes to choosing between third-party or in-house loyalty technology, the latter is slightly more appealing for them. However, Asia-Pacific companies are ahead of global businesses in terms of wanting to provide their marketing team with the best marketing solutions and easiest-to-use loyalty technology out there.
Leveraging data tops omnichannel loyalty experience
When asked about the most influential loyalty program trends for the coming years, APAC companies ranked customer data usage as first, personalization as second, and seamless omnichannel loyalty experience as third. The region’s strong focus on utilizing technology is most likely the reason why they see so much potential in collecting and leveraging data.
Whether you plan to launch or revamp your loyalty program, there are a number of ways you can improve on the concept to ensure maximum effectiveness and community appeal.
We have outlined an action plan based on the assessed trends, statistics and sentiments:
A truly engaging loyalty program should go beyond simply offering transactional rewards, and should instead focus on the experience. Gifts from partners, experiential benefits, VIP treatment, challenges, gamification, and caritative actions can all greatly enhance the user experience for loyalty program members.
APAC companies are more ahead in this regard than any other region, and they shouldn’t slow down. Organizations here should continue experimenting with new ideas and, considering the region’s fondness for technology and social media, they should keep iterating loyalty program features that are app-based, involve influencer live streams, mini-games with leaderboards, as well as personalized experiences, such as AI-driven product recommendations.
Organizations can personalize the loyalty program experience and the rewards in several ways. A custom message when enrolling into the program, reaching a new tier, or just a monthly summary is just the start: APAC companies are looking at amazing opportunities to bring personalization to a whole new level.
This includes hyper-tailored product recommendations based on purchase history, or even reward types that are only available for certain customer segments or are unlocked after completing certain challenges.
In a highly competitive environment, technology should reflect the brand’s ambition. Whether you’re building the loyalty platform in-house or relying on a third-party vendor, make sure to plan for the future, and not just your brand’s immediate needs. The hallmark of a best-in-class technology is that it’s modular, has a sophisticated list of features and, of course, is built to allow multi-country management.
Additionally, it’s highly recommended for APAC companies to continue embracing technologies that are marketer-friendly, meaning that day-to-day use is straightforward and requires no help from the IT department.
The data was broken down into the APAC region and compared to the global results.
The descriptive and comparative analyses were carried out on the basis of the primary data collected using the survey. The results are stated at a 95% confidence level. Refer to the Global Customer Loyalty Report 2022 for complete methodology.
The APAC Customer Loyalty Report 2022 and accompanying survey were a collaborative effort between Antavo and several industry experts.
Andreanne RONDEAU - Loyalty Expert, stratLX, Balint PATAKI - Data Scientist, Antavo, Brigitta KANTOR – Creative Director, Antavo, Eva BACSI - Contributor, Marketing Director, Antavo, Jess MIZERAK – Copy Editor, Antavo, Joshua BEALE - Expert Insight - Principal Account Director, Global Retail and CPG at Mapp Digital, Meagan MERCIER - Data Analyst, stratLX, Shawn CHAN - VP of APAC, Antavo, Shawn TAN - Expert Insight - Managing Director at Interactive Rewards Asia, Tamas OSZI – Copywriter, Senior Loyalty Program Specialist, Antavo, Viktor FASI - Business Intelligence, Head of Product, Antavo, Zsuzsa KECSMAR – Editor, Co-Founder and CMO, Antavo
Switching to Higher Gear
Switching to Higher Gear
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