4 Ways Experiential Rewards Transform Channel Loyalty

Andrea Ruddy
Andrea Ruddy

taking photos on a river boat

Ever heard the expression, “It’s all about the experience?” In today’s dynamic channel environment, that sentiment is right on the money.

How you package your products and services, how you serve your customers and interact with your manufacturers and suppliers, and how you reward your valued channel partners for their loyalty is all about the experience.

The B2C sector has had the experiential approach figured out for a while now, both from service and reward perspectives.

When consumers choose one brand over another because of white-glove delivery options, premier automotive dealer waiting room amenities, and experiential loyalty rewards that get them backstage at the hottest concert event of the year, the experience is largely what keeps them coming back for more.

And while the concept of experiential rewards no doubt applies in the channel, it’s beginning to take shape with B2B organizations everywhere.

According to the most recent Incentive Research Foundation Pulse Study, 42% of program owners are increasing the number of “experiential rewards” within their current offering.

Why Experiential Rewards Matter to You

Loyalty within the channel comes at a premium. It’s a battle of who can deliver better, faster, and now, top the experience that everyone else is offering.

But you already knew that. Here’s what you might not know about why experiential rewards are the future of channel loyalty.

1. Experiential rewards connect your people with your brand.

When it comes to channel loyalty, creating that emotional and memorable connection between user and brand is what makes your world go round.

Delivering an experience your people can’t get elsewhere, and then correlating it with your identity in the market, has the potential to create sizeable amounts of profitable loyalty for your organization.

Whether it’s a customized getaway that gets your basketball-fanatic customer courtside at the NBA Finals or a mad-for-plaid personalized Burberry shopping experience, the experience ensures your brand is forever imprinted in the hearts and minds of your people.

Related: See how smart companies are using experiential rewards for their employee recognition programs.

2. Experiential rewards cater to today’s largest workforce generation.

Millennials will represent more than one in three adult Americans by 2020 and 75 percent of the workforce by 2025. And with 72% of them opting to spend money on experiences versus products, they’re a demographic that can’t be ignored.

And for Millennials in particular, luxury is not defined by how much money is spent, but rather how priceless the experience is.

And how shareable it is.

After all, they make up a majority of Instagram’s most loyal users, which means they’re capturing and promoting their experiences with your brand, and showcasing them for the world to see.

Concert attendees at a Red Rocks Ampitheater concert in Denver

3. Experiential rewards create variety in your omni-channel strategy.

That variety is crucial, considering people in today’s multigenerational workforce are motivated differently.

Because experiential awards are largely customizable, the flexibility they offer allows you to accommodate the masses, ultimately maximizing your investment.

For example, a personalized reward experience including tickets to Red Rocks Amphitheater outside of Denver, Colorado, may offer a completely customizable itinerary based on interest.

It might give the cinema-loving Millennial the opportunity to see one of the venue’s featured Film-on-the-Rocks showings while spending their leisure time hiking the trails of neighboring Estes Park, and offer a Baby Boomer music buff an evening featuring Paul Simon and the opportunity to take in the historic views of nearby Breckenridge.

Related: Need ideas for engaging resellers? Try these six loyalty program best practices that will help you put your incentive program at the front of your audiences’ minds.

4. Experiential rewards are a worthy investment.

According to the Incentive Research Foundation’s 2017 “Capture Performance: 10 Things Top Performing Companies Do Differently/Reward & Recognition Strategies of Top-Performing Firms” report, top-performing channel organizations feature higher non-cash incentive payouts for the average salesperson ($4,047 vs. $2,612).

Higher-value rewards mean more relevant and more enticing rewards, and that means more incentive for your valued channel partners to give their loyalty.

The takeaway here is, if you’re going to leverage experiential loyalty rewards, it’s worth doing it right. Make the investment. Empower your audience members with the experiences and opportunities that matter to them.

After all, for every customer experience failure, brands lose an average 65% of sales they would have earned from the affected customer during the following year.

It’s Never Been More About the Experience

In an environment where garnering loyalty may often feel like swimming upstream, a channel incentive solution helps you drive sales and profitability. And it does it while fueling loyalty with a host of experiential rewards that create a meaningful connection between your people and your brand.

Andrea Ruddy

Andrea Ruddy

Andrea, a Business Development Manager at ITA Group, has been inspiring authentic, lasting emotional connections that drive engagement and improve performance for almost 20 years. As a high school varsity volleyball coach, motivation is her game.