Loyalty pays, and soon it will be even more lucrative as a critical marketing channel. Google is eliminating third-party cookies, and by now the world has mostly recovered from its pearl clutching. In the absence of cookies, marketers need new channels and innovative solutions to gather first-party data and engage in new ways with target audiences.
Loyalty programs are a perfect use case for first-party data, as they give the user value back in exchange for sharing their data with the brand. But beyond this value, some brands are taking the step even further, using it as an opportunity to engage with other brands.
Kohl’s and Amazon are an early example of the branded partnership angle. Through a unique setup, Amazon customers can bring Amazon returns to Kohl’s, who will pack, label and ship it on their behalf. And they give customers a Kohl’s coupon for the store right at the counter. While this 2019 partnership wasn’t purely a data play, it highlights the significance of creating the right connections in the marketplace. The pilot started with 100 Kohl’s locations. Now, two years later, it has been implemented in all Kohl’s stores nationwide outside of Alaska.
More recently, Starbucks made a splash with its loyalty program. On the company’s October earnings call, Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson discussed plans for integrating Starbucks rewards with other merchant rewards by way of cryptocurrency. The intent, he says, is to drive mutual beneficial value for consumers and brands. “This will enable customers to exchange value across brands, engage in more personalized experiences, enhance digital services and exchange other loyalty points for Stars at Starbucks,” Johnson said. He additionally pointed to the recent launch of a Canadian loyalty program with Air Canada, where members can link accounts for improved user benefits.
Another example is Target, which recently launched a brand partnership with luxury beauty provider Ulta, on top of existing partnerships with Disney and Apple. During Target’s most recent earnings call, Chief Growth Officer Christina Hennington says the company continues to expand its shop-in-shop experiences to “drive traffic and inspire guests.” Echoing the Starbucks initiative, users can also link their Target Circle and Ultamate Rewards accounts, driving further brand cooperation through loyalty programs.
Third-party cookies were the law of the land for a while, but their time has come to an end. As we enter a world without cookies, loyalty programs provide a smart option for reaching users with first-party data. Here are three key things brands should keep in mind as they build their data strategies and loyalty programs without cookies.
There is no replacement product for third-party cookies. But, as brands shift their strategies, they should seriously consider investing in first-party data assets like loyalty programs. These programs offer a prime opportunity to deliver value to the user in exchange for personal data.
Ready to build your loyalty program? We can help. Reach out any time.
Featured image by John Schnobrich on Unsplash.
Zlata is a full-time publicist, part-time writer, and round-the-clock ambassador to wit and humor. As a publicist for over 15 years, she helps launch products with creative ideas and garner press coverage that drives reputation and sales. She also contributes to a variety of lifestyle publications in the areas of food, parenting, health, beauty, marketing, travel, and home. When she’s not crafting kitchen concoctions for her food blog @lifeandthymez, Zlata can be found spending time with her family, having #zlatathoughts, and fantasizing about being a Real Housewife of New Jersey.
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