Global Perspective: What the Future Could Hold for Loyalty in India
By Vikas Chandak, JetPrivilege
Loyalty programs are proliferating in India. However, the traditionally simplistic program is quickly evolving into something more interactive, collaborative, insightful and tech-savvy.
While the Indian loyalty market gets ready to adapt to the next wave, here are seven trends we might see in the near future:
- New entrants: Data and data mining are becoming important to all businesses for customer acquisition, interaction and policies, and newer industries are looking at different forms of loyalty to collect and analyze relevant data. Companies in health care (Max Bupa), insurance, entertainment (PVR, BookMyShow) and more are dabbling with different forms of customer interaction data.
- Real-time interaction: Data analytics has been limited by the usefulness of its outputs. Technology enables more real-time interactions, and loyalty programs will likely employ real-time offers and triggers for customers based on transactions and behavior through multiple channels and mediums (app notifications, real-time alerts, near-field communication, device recognition, etc.). Examples of those exploring new technologies include Capillary and Pine Labs, among others.
- The wallet story: This could fundamentally disrupt the way the industry works. Wallets are integral to any virtual currency, and loyalty programs have long acted as stored-value closed wallets for their members. With enabling technology, wallets are quickly becoming a solution to achieve fungibility, acceleration and easy currency utilization. Expect wallets to play a large part in changing loyalty-program dynamics and user experiences. We’re already seeing examples of MobiKwik and Citrus playing with loyalty currencies.
- The social story: Currencies that are successful in the intimate social network space will find a higher-than-average longevity of member affiliation and much stronger ROI for marketing efforts. But stepping into this volatile media requires boldness and a surrendering approach, which has proved difficult for many a strong brand. We are bound to see a few gamification attempts at breaking into this space.
- Member management: As loyalty programs proliferate, so do membership accounts. We will see some interesting plays in this area with aggregators attempting to secure a preference with the largest member sets. Given the exchange of information this will enable, this will be both an opportunity and a threat for programs.
- Distributed ledger story: There are murmurs of blockchain technology finding commercially viable use cases, which has the potential to disrupt this space entirely. A virtual currency ecosystem could benefit immensely from such a technology, but will each program find relevant economic use cases and bite the bullet?
- Regulations: There will be growing attention from the regulators as large corporate houses run separate firms to manage their group programs; currencies start playing with wallets; and data analytics and relevant real-time interactions become more frequent and conflict with privacy norms. The regulatory attention will impact how loyalty operators design, run and account for their programs.