12 ways to optimise your loyalty program for the festive season
19 December 2023
Eli Maynard

Written by Eli Maynard and Amy Gavagnin

As the holiday season ignites a surge in consumer spending (expected to exceed $1 trillion this year), loyalty programs present a unique opportunity to deepen customer connections and elevate brand loyalty. Instead of five golden rings this Christmas, unlock 12 ways to optimise your loyalty program for the festive season.

1. Personalise the Yuletide Journey

The holiday season is a time for giving. There is no better way for a brand to share this cheer than by enhancing the personalisation of their loyalty program. Brands can unlock a world of tailored festive experiences personalised to each member’s unique preferences. By embracing personalisation, brands can transform their program into a gift that keeps on giving, fostering deeper engagement and brand loyalty.
Here are some ways brands can personalise the yuletide journey for loyalty members:

  • Gift recommendations: Analyse past shopping habits to suggest relevant gift ideas, recommend festive products customers will love, and fully leverage existing data to personalise the festive experience for loyalty members.
  • Holiday wishlists: Incorporate the option for members to create wishlists and share them with loved ones for easy gifting.
  • Targeted offers & greetings: Send personalised holiday greetings with exclusive offers based on member interests and purchase history.

2. Deck the Halls with Festive Loyalty Program Promotions

The festive season provides the perfect opportunity for loyalty programs to push new, exciting promotions revolved around Christmas and seasonal cheer. Festive loyalty promotions that brands can implement include:

  • Flash sales & early access: Offer exclusive flash sales for loyalty members or early access to Boxing Day sales.
  • Mystery gifts & bonus rewards: Go even further with a surprise and delight strategy by surprising members with special Christmas gifts with purchase, or exclusive Christmas loyalty discounts.
  • Festive tiers & challenges: Introduce temporary tiers with holiday themes and reward members for completing special festive challenges.
  • Limited-Edition holiday rewards: Unveil limited-edition holiday rewards that are exclusively available during this festive period. Whether it’s a collectible item, a special holiday-themed product, or access to an exclusive event, these rewards can add an element of anticipation and desirability, prompting customers to actively engage with the brand to unlock these unique offerings.
  • Christmas product specific boosts: Multiply points on holiday purchases or typical specific Christmas related categories like toys, decorations, or travel.
  • Festive multipliers: Incorporate surprise and delight by surprising loyalty members with random point multipliers throughout the festive season, turning every purchase into a potential gift.

3. Gamify the Festive Fun

Deck the halls with points and cheer! The holidays are the perfect time for brands to inject some festive fun into their loyalty program and turn it into a more engaging program. For brands that have not incorporated gamification and/or digital games into their program yet, the festive season is the perfect time to launch these elements. Gamification and digital games can be the key to unlocking the world of engagement, excitement, and brand loyalty over the festive season. Some of these merry ideas include:

  • Holiday games, challenges, and leaderboards: Create holiday-themed leaderboards where members compete for bonus points or exclusive prizes through digital games and challenges. Encourage customers to complete specific tasks, such as making a certain number of purchases, referring friends, or participating in holiday quizzes, with the promise of exciting rewards upon successful completion
  • Virtual advent calendars: Offer daily rewards or challenges through an interactive advent calendar within the program. Whether this is an advent calendar through December, or a ’12 days of Christmas’ advent calendar, to engage members over the season.
  • Holiday scratchies: Add a touch of instant gratification with festive scratch-off cards. Members can earn these cards through purchases, challenges, or simply by opening their app. Each scratchie could reveal points, discounts, special prizes, or even mini games that keep them coming back for more.
  • Social media challenges: Encourage members to share festive experiences and photos for points or entries in holiday draws.

4. Spread the Joy of Giving

Unfortunately, some families and individuals do not get the privilege of celebrating Christmas the same way as others. Loyalty programs can address this by spreading the joy of giving over the season. Some ways to do this include:

  • Points for purpose: Allow members to donate points directly to charities supporting families in need, providing warm meals, toys for children, or assistance with housing or bills. The brand can also match the charitable contributions made by loyalty members, not only amplifying the impact of brand generosity but also showcases the brand’s commitment to social responsibility.
  • Gift-a-Wish program: Implement a Gift-a-Wish program for members to nominate families or individuals in need to allow members to use their points to fulfill a specific wish for them.
  • Charity partnerships: Partner with relevant charities and allow members to donate points or a portion of their purchases.

5. Festive Gifting Chains

The most successful loyalty programs create an engaged community. One way to do this is through a holiday festive gifting chain. Whilst somewhat difficult to implement, there is a massive opportunity for brands to differentiate themselves from competitors around Christmas time with this loyalty initiative. This could work like this:

  • Members can “unwrap” the joy: This can be done by members purchasing gifts with points for other members, where another member purchases them one back (to the same value). This would give members the opportunity to unwrap a very special surprise gift from a fellow loyalty member. The gift forms a link in a merry chain, spreading goodwill and festive cheer throughout the program.
  • Bonus points for jolly deeds: Reward members who initiate chains, complete a set number of gifts, or become the most generous link in the chain with bonus points.
  • Theme-tastic chains: Designate different chains with holiday themes like “Secret Santa,” “12 Days of Giving,” or “Snowball Fight” (where members compete to send the most gifts) to keep it fresh and exciting.

6. Enhance the Digital User Experience

One of the easiest things brands can do to spread a little Christmas cheer is update their digital experience to match the Christmas spirit. The thing is, that whilst some brands may update how small things like adding a Santa hat to their app logo over the festive season, many brands are missing out on the true opportunities that exist. Some ways brands can enhance their digital experience over the festive season include:

  • Festive UI/UX: Update the loyalty program’s interface with festive themes, animations, and holiday music. This can include gingerbread buttons, reindeer cursors and more.
  • Holiday-themed content: Share festive recipes, gift guides, and holiday stories within the platform, with rewards for those who engage in the content (i.e. points)
  • Christmas countdown: Implementing something as simple as a Christmas countdown on the app/website can enhance the digital experience significantly. To incorporate loyalty with this, members could potentially earn points simply for checking the countdown every day until Christmas.
  • Real-Time rewards tracking: Empower members with real-time visibility into their loyalty rewards and progress, especially during the fast-paced holiday season. Implement features that allow them to easily track their points, upcoming rewards, and available redemption options through a user-friendly interface.

7. Unleash the Power of Partnerships

The holiday season is a season of collaboration. Partner with other brands, local businesses, or even charities to offer unique experiences and rewards to members. This could be:

  • Co-branded gift sets: Combine products (or services) with those of a complementary brand and offer exclusive loyalty member bundles.
  • Festive pop-up experiences: Take the exclusive member events to the next level by partnering with other businesses and partners to host holiday pop-up experiences where members can earn points, enjoy discounts, and participate in festive activities.

8. Host a Holiday Extravaganza

Brands have the opportunity to create a truly magical experience for loyalty members and create a holiday extravaganza. Some of these ideas include:

  • Exclusive member events: Organise in-person or virtual parties, workshops, or specific events tailored to the brand – exclusively for loyal members.
  • Members-only contests & giveaways: Host festive contests and giveaways with exclusive prizes for program members.
  • Holiday pop-up shops: Set up temporary online pop-up shops for members only.

9. Festive Loyalty Lottery

Inject a dose of excitement and anticipation into the loyalty program by organising a festive lottery. This engaging initiative not only adds a thrilling element but also provides a chance for members to win exciting prizes. Here is how to make it a success:

  • Holiday raffle tickets: Introduce virtual raffle tickets that members can earn through various loyalty activities, such as making purchases, referring friends, or participating in holiday-themed challenges. The more tickets they accumulate, the higher their chances of winning.
  • Diverse prize pool: Curate an enticing selection of prizes that align with the festive spirit. This could include exclusive holiday merchandise, limited-edition products, or even a grand prize like a holiday getaway or a shopping spree. Ensure the prizes are attractive enough to spark enthusiasm among members.
  • Festive draws: Schedule multiple draws throughout the holiday season, creating an ongoing sense of excitement. Consider having weekly or bi-weekly draws to keep the anticipation high. Publicise winners and their prizes to generate buzz and encourage more participation.
  • Bonus entries for holiday actions: Offer bonus raffle entries for specific holiday-centric actions. For instance, members could earn extra entries by sharing their favourite holiday traditions, posting festive photos, or writing a review about their favourite holiday products. This not only boosts engagement but also fosters a sense of community.
  • Surprise bonus rounds: Keep members on their toes by introducing surprise bonus rounds or flash draws with spontaneous prizes. This unpredictability adds an element of fun and ensures constant engagement.

10. Augmented Reality Holiday Fun

Brands can gamify their loyalty program even further by tapping into the future with Augmented Reality (AR). The holiday season is the perfect time to inject some Augmented Reality into brand loyalty initiatives. Ideas include:

  • Develop AR filters: Introduce AR filters or scavenger hunts that members can use to interact with their environment in a festive way, earning points or unlocking rewards. This can be on Snapchat, Instagram and other platforms that allow this.
  • Partnerships: Partner with local businesses to create AR experiences that reward members for visiting stores or participating in holiday events

11. ‘Tis the Season to Analyse and Adapt

It is all good and ‘jolly’ to invest time, resources, and effort into implementing festive initiatives. However, the performance of festive loyalty program initiatives relies on regularly analysing data, collecting feedback, and adapting strategy based on real-time insights. Optimise the program over the festive season by taking advantage of the data and analytics available. This can be done by:

  • Real-time analytics: Utilise real-time analytics tools to track the success of the holiday promotions, engagement rates, and the popularity of specific rewards. This data can guide you in making on-the-fly adjustments to optimise the program.
  • Member feedback loop: Encourage loyalty members to share their thoughts on the festive program elements. Whether through surveys, social media polls, or direct messages, collecting feedback will provide valuable insights into what resonates most with the audience. Members can be rewarded with points, discounts, or benefits in return.
  • Adaptable strategy: Be flexible in adapting the loyalty program strategy based on the evolving needs and preferences of members. If certain promotions or rewards are particularly well-received, consider extending or expanding them throughout other holidays. If some festive initiatives are not received well, switch it up for the next holiday season.

12. Show Appreciation & Gratitude

The festive and holiday season mostly revolves around Christmas – but what comes straight after? New Years! The holiday season provides the perfect opportunity to optimise loyalty programs by showing appreciation to loyalty members throughout the year. A couple of ideas to do this include:

  • Personalised end-of-year messages: Send personalised messages highlighting member achievements and expressing gratitude for their loyalty. Craft thoughtful holiday messaging that not only highlights the benefits of the festive loyalty program but also conveys genuine warmth and appreciation for customers’ continued support.
  • Early access to new year’s offerings: Reward loyal members with early access to new year’s loyalty promotions or program updates.
  • ‘Loyalty Wrapped’: Similar to Spotify’s Wrapped feature, Mecca’s ‘Beauty Bag’ (Mecca members year in review), and McDonald’s ‘Year in Review’, reward members with their own ‘Loyalty Wrapped’ journey. From their purchases, rewards and the journey they took with the program over the year.

A Festive Loyalty Program

As the merry bells fade and tinsel gathers dust, remember, the magic of loyalty thrives beyond festive lights. By infusing your program with these festive strategies, brands can unlock loyalty that endures, not just through December, but throughout the year.

So, may your program be merry and bright. Happy holidays!

Looking to implement personalisation into your loyalty program?

Our loyalty consultants can help. Contact us to learn more about our comprehensive loyalty services and talk with our loyalty consultants to understand how to develop or optimise your loyalty program strategy.

<a href="https://loyaltyrewardco.com/author/eli/" target="_self">Eli Maynard</a>

Eli Maynard

Eli is a Strategy Consultant at Loyalty & Reward Co, the leading loyalty consulting firm. Loyalty & Reward Co design, implement, and operate the world’s best loyalty programs for the world’s best brands. Eli has previously worked in business development, customer service and marketing roles across various industries including technology, retail and sports. Eli applies his skills across all aspects of the business, including market research, loyalty program design, member engagement and lifecycle strategy.

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