What are people's benchmarks in store experiences?
How Marriott and Hilton are innovating loyalty

Mining for customer aspirations at Kohl's and Marriott

One of the big advantages of a sophisticated loyalty program is the opportunity to find out what your customers are dreaming about. 

Forbes.com: Experiential Rewards: How Kohl's, Neiman Marcus and Marriott Set a New Bar, 2017-Apr-28 by Bryan Pearson

The best retail customer experiences are designed to fulfill consumer expectations. For the shopper who got to participate in a fashion photo shoot for Kohl’s, it meant filling a celebrity’s shoes.

That’s basically what a member of Kohl’s Yes2You Rewards got when the retailer invited her to participate in a photo shoot of the LC Lauren Conrad line, designed by The Hills TV star and fashion designer Lauren Conrad. As Conrad described it, the member (Kayla Watters) got to "fill my shoes...."

For Kohl’s, the Yes2You Rewards program also provides its own set of merchant benefits. These include having “an authentic, two-way dialogue” to learn what its shoppers want, how they interact with the retailer and what matters most in their brand experiences, said Michelle Gass, Kohl’s chief merchandising and customer officer.

“As we learn more about our customers through Yes2You Rewards, we develop deeper relationships and provide promotions, experiences and surprises that are meaningful to them,” she said.

Since the program launched in 2014, Kohl’s has made millions of customer surprises, she said, ranging from a VIP trip to the American Music Awards to an early screening of a blockbuster film to the opportunity to star in a Kohl’s photo shoot. “The positive sentiment we’ve seen from these customers is incredible and absolutely deepens customer affinity with our brand.”...

Marriott Rewards Experiences Marketplace offers for auction a meet-and-greet with Tony Bennett, VIP access to the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival and tickets to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. Recently, it auctioned off a chance to stay in one of eight tricked-out tents at the Coachella music festival, each of which duplicated a room in one of its eight boutique hotel brands.

Important to these experiential reward strategies is that each is sized up to its audience. From Kohl’s branded photo shoots to Marriott’s customized tents, each brand uses its program data to develop reward options that hit the relevant sweet spots of its core members.

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