Sarah Jarvis is Communications and Propositions Director at Eagle Eye, a software-as-a-service loyalty specialist working with retail, travel, and hospitality brands.

Having spent more than a decade and a half working in retail marketing and loyalty, Jarvis has well-formed opinions on what makes a great, and not-so-great, loyalty scheme – and the experience to back them up. We spoke to her about her favourite loyalty propositions, her loyalty bugbears, and whether consumers might be suffering from “loyalty fatigue”.

Econsultancy: As a consumer, which brands’ loyalty communications will you open and why? Which loyalty schemes really have you hooked?

Sarah Jarvis: Just before writing this answer, I opened a communication from the MyWaitrose programme because it contained a chance to win tickets to this year’s Wimbledon Tennis Championships which I couldn’t get through the ballot! In my opinion, one of the golden rules of CRM is that every communication you send to the customer must contain value – and for me – the chance to go to Wimbledon is highly valuable. In addition, the email contained a recipe, something I also value as someone who likes to cook a lot.

In terms of schemes that have me hooked, I am a proud subscriber to Liberty London’s Beauty Box subscription, not a classic loyalty programme but something which gives huge value to me as an end consumer.

E: What are your loyalty bugbears? Where do brands tend to go wrong?

SJ: Irrelevant or unwanted communications or offers can really irritate me. The ‘give to get’ of the loyalty programme contract is that I agree to give you my data in return for a stated range of benefits and the understanding that you as the retailer will use my data to personalise my experience. If you fail on that promise, then things can fall apart pretty quickly.

Brands can also go wrong when they remove value from their programme. As a consumer, you expect the business to uphold the terms it stated with you when you signed up so devaluing schemes (e.g. reducing the value of the ‘burn’) can backfire.

E: What does a typical day working in loyalty look like for you?

SJ: No two days are ever the same, which is great. A lot of my time is spent with customers and prospects, working together with them and alongside our product team to try to determine what the best applications of our technology are to enable our customers to deliver the best, most personalised end experiences for their customers. This can be very creative and is a huge amount of fun.

I also have to keep a finger on the pulse of what’s happening in loyalty all over the world, not just looking at what our amazing customers are doing, but what else is new in the world of loyalty and personalisation to ensure that our solutions remain competitive (so feeding requirements back into our product team) and that we’re always able to provide the best, most up-to-date advice to our customers about the art of the possible.

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E: With loyalty schemes seemingly more popular than ever, are consumers suffering from “loyalty fatigue”?

SJ: I definitely don’t think so. Loyalty card penetration rates in the UK are the highest they’ve been in decades as consumers desperately seek value during a difficult economic period.

Retailers are also doing a fantastic job of innovating their schemes, adding new ways for customers to earn even more value through new tactics such as Asda and their ‘spin to win’ gamified campaign, and Morrisons and Tesco who have both launched their new personalised challenges propositions, My Points Boosters and Clubcard Challenges (launching at the end of this month).

Leading propositions globally like Loblaws and Woolworths Australia are also just continuing to layer value onto their schemes, giving customers more ways to earn and burn value, both directly through them as retailers as well as through networks of connected partners.

E: How can brands make sure their loyalty proposition feels worthwhile?

SJ: The best loyalty propositions are directly tied to the business’s value proposition. You can’t just build a ‘me too’ programme and expect it to work, it must be built around your business, delivering what your customers want and rewarding the behaviour that you as a business seek.

The baseline value proposition must be tangible from Day 1 with customers able to see the “give to get”. A lot of retailers have done this recently though, for example, member pricing, ensuring that customers have a reason to swipe/identify every time due to the immediate benefit of pricing rather than relying solely on the deferred effect of earned points.

Increasingly, I think these propositions will hinge on personalisation – so for instance rather than mass discounts, how do you drive engagement and reward loyalty through personalised offers, personalised prices, and personalised content?

E: What has inspired you lately outside of work?

SJ: This sounds very trite, but I have a very energetic two-year-old who inspires me to bring energy and enthusiasm to everything I do (both toddlers and adults seem to respond better to this than the low-energy, grumpy alternative!).

Econsultancy runs marketing and ecommerce learning academies for global brands including FMCGs and retailers.


Note: Eagle Eye works with Waitrose, Asda, Morrisons, Tesco, Loblaws, Woolworths, and Liberty in a client capacity.