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January 2018

February 2018

New Starbucks card vetted by NerdWallet: great for sampling the menu

Starbucks is doing a good job making the customer experience sparkle with their new Visa card. Nerdwallet also has the best explanation of the 'star system' I've seen. Our only problem is staying on the healthy side of the menu. 

Nerdwallet: Starbucks Rewards Visa Card Review, 2018-Feb-13 by Claire Tsosie

The sign-up bonus is super-sweet. The sign-up bonus on the Starbucks Rewards™ Visa® Card is worth 2,500 Stars. That’s worth 20 food and drink items. That could add up to:

  • 10 Frappuccinos and 10 turkey pesto paninis, or
  • 15 Caramel Macchiatos and five apple fritters, or
  • Seven pumpkin spice lattes and 13 Cranberry Bliss Bars at holiday time

For Starbucks devotees, this bonus makes the card far more attractive.

Stars can potentially be quite valuable. If you redeem Stars for some of the most expensive food and drink items — namely, the items that cost $5 or more — you’ll get at least 4 cents out of each Star. That’s an excellent value, if you can manage it.

To be sure, if your favorite Starbucks item is drip coffee with room for cream, this card won’t be as valuable. But for those who want to venture into the more expensive parts of the Starbucks menu, it’s a big money-saver.... 

The Starbucks Rewards™ Visa® Card isn’t about dollars and cents — it’s about coffee, pastries and emotional value. It’s not the most lucrative credit card available for everyday spending, but it’s a relatively affordable way to treat yourself on a regular basis, save some cash on your coffee runs and taste-test all the priciest items on the Starbucks menu. For enthusiastic Starbucks customers, its frequent freebies and surprises make it a steal, even with the $49 annual fee.

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Loyal customers get variety and choice at Hertz

Car rental firms are facing up to customer demand for choice and variety more and more. The Hertz Gold Plus Rewards program has been a simple and effective membership mechanism for a long time. Now Hertz is improving the customer experience.

AutoSlash: Hertz's Ultimate Choice: A One-Year Review, 2018-Feb-12 by Chris

But for the real Ultimate Choice magic, sign up for Hertz's free Gold Plus Rewards program. It costs nothing and takes only a couple minutes to fill out the form on Hertz's website.

Then, when you book a midsize car at an Ultimate Choice location, not only do you get to skip the long line at the rental counter, you also get to pick from a special selection of vehicles just for Gold members. Hertz tries to reserve nicer trims and lower-mileage vehicles for the Gold section—instead of Corollas and Sentras with 50,000 miles on them, in the Gold aisle, you might find a Hyundai Elantra (a fun car to drive!) with 15,000 miles and maybe even leather seats. You might occasionally find a couple of fullsize cars sprinkled throughout the row.

It gets even better if you have a few rentals under your belt. Just five rentals in a calendar year gets you Hertz Five Star status. A midsize reservation at an Ultimate Choice location as a Five Star customer will give you access to an even more special Five Star vehicle selection

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Crayola supports user-generated content with Instagram and Vivoom

For customers, having a brand to republish your post is such a thrill. To move from an organic Instagram activity into shared videos, Crayola worked with Vivoom to develop a Crayola app that helped its customers create and share video holiday cards. 

Getting enthusiastic customer testimonials has never been easier for brands like Crayola. 

Adexchanger: Crayola Gets Crafty With User-Generated Content, 2018-Feb-8 by Allison Schiff

Crayola consumers create a lot of organic content using Crayola products. A search for the #crayola hashtag on Instagram surfaces everything from intricate fan-made “Crayoligraphy” handwriting art to crayon doodles from kids.

The brand’s social team makes good use of those assets by engaging with creators in the comments and republishing their posts. 

But the paid media team also wanted to take advantage of the content’s authenticity, which led it to Vivoom, a platform that allows people to use their phone or computer to create and share videos with branded templates and augmented reality filters.

Crayola tested the technology over two weeks in December as part of a larger holiday campaign, encouraging consumers to make holiday video cards and post them across social channels. The purpose was to see if consumers would generate quality video content that Crayola could later repurpose for other campaigns, including paid efforts.

During the test’s limited run, users only created a few hundred videos – but they garnered more than 300,000 views, with a 62% completion rate compared with the 52% average completion rate normally seen on Crayola’s video content. The $.04 cost-per-view rate was also far below the industry benchmark range of $.10 to $.30.

The results are proof that friend-to-friend and user-to-user engagement help performance, Scurato said. Crayola plans to tap its fans to power future content-driven initiatives, including online video campaigns.

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Retailers, including Neiman Marcus, are building one-to-one relationships via mobile apps

Shoppers are less and less likely to frequent the e-commerce website of a store, and more and more likely to rely on its mobile app. Mobile apps have two big advantages over websites for retailers: 1) they are easy to use in-store and 2) they are more likely to used casually by the shopper. Smart retailers are pouring money into mobile app development and mobile-enabled commerce. 

PYMNTS.com: Neiman Marcus Looks To Associates For Social Media Commerce, 2018-Jan-23

At the National Retail Federation (NRF) show last week, Neiman Marcus Chief Executive Karen Katz said that her 4,500 associates are generating sales for the company via their personal Instagram and Snapchat accounts. Katz said the company encourages the practice because “customers who are attached to a sales associate spend more.”

To help facilitate communications with customers, each associate receives a company-issued iPhone and the iSell mobile app. Associates post fashion advice — like how to dress up jeans — and text updates about new items that have arrived in-store. “We are trying to bring a more human touch to how [our associates] act online,” Katz said.

... 

“A huge portion of discovery of new products is now happening on Instagram and Pinterest for women,” said Jennifer Hyman, co-founder of Rent the Runway, according to The Wall Street Journal. “Pinterest and Instagram serve as virtual malls or virtual cataloging for every woman across the globe.” And, through a mobile app called Spring, fashion shoppers can discover new brands, as well as manage the packaging and shipping of their items. 

RetailWire: Will in-store clienteling aid Neiman Marcus’ digital push? 2017-Oct-23 by Tom Ryan

On its fourth-quarter conference call earlier this month, CEO Karen Katz told analysts the luxury retailer continues to invest in software tools to “deepen engagement” and “help our associates drive sales outside the four walls of the store.”

A major focus is continued investments is Isell, a proprietary digital clientele management tool first rolled out five years ago that allows sales associates to use an app on a company-issued iPhone to retrieve customer data and “tap into customer preferences.” 

To further personalization, custom software is being developed that enables selling associates to send personalized outfit suggestions to customers via text message, which Ms. Katz described as “already a key driver of transactions.” The suggestions are based on past purchases, customer browsing history on the company’s websites, social feeds and/or inquiries.

The clienteling tool is guiding the company’s first platform under the digital first strategy that focuses on digital luxury services. Two other platforms involve upgrading Neiman’s e-commerce sites and increasing its selection of exclusive merchandise.