Shifting Focus: From Selling Items to Understanding Your Customers

Customer data provides the fuel to help differentiate your brand in a competitive market.

Jamie Hudson, VP and GM of Promotional Services


Loyalty programs are as much a part of the fabric of retail as merchandise or customers. As such, most retailers are likely familiar with the main objectives of any good loyalty program:

  1. Recognizing and rewarding customers who shop with you frequently
  2. Driving more foot traffic and higher average basket size to increase revenues
  3. Capturing and analyzing customer data to better understand customer behaviors and needs

Usually, retailers and loyalty marketers are quite adept at the first two. However, that third objective of effectively mining data for insights is sometimes overlooked… which is unfortunate. Customer data that can be gleaned from a loyalty program allows you to identify the needs and motivations of your best customers. It’s the data that provides the fuel to help differentiate your brand in a competitive market.

Here’s the bedrock-basic takeaway to why customer data is important: if a customer believes you really understand and value them, they will be loyal to your brand. They will be willing to spend a little extra in the store or at the pump, even if a discount is available elsewhere. It’s easy to give, if the other party has your best interest at heart.

Loyalty Matters… Even More than Location and Price


Here’s some information you may have seen us post before: According to our 2017 Road to Rewards report, 43% of c-store shoppers choose a specific store because it offers a rewards program, compared to 44% who decide where to shop based on location. This defies the conventional wisdom about the fuel retail business – that location and price trump all other considerations. It turns out that rewards are as compelling as convenience, and loyalty is more powerful than price.

So, if you have a great location and a compelling loyalty program, then you should be doing great, especially if you’re mining the data you’ve collected over time. However, even if you’re located in an area rife with competition, a differentiated and engaging loyalty program can help you stay competitive.

Avoid Complacency by Optimizing Data


Never assume that your current customers will stay with you if you don’t really know who they are. Relationships matter. New competitors are on the way. And historically, we know customers can be fickle.

Operators who don’t prioritize the mining of program data to better understand customer attitudes and actions are not getting the most out of their programs. They aren’t understanding the uniqueness of individuals or segments. They don’t know that an offer for discounted coffee isn’t relevant for Jack because he prefers tea or that Jill is vegan and would never take advantage of a BOGO offer for jerky. That’s the difference between pushing your products vs. understanding your customers.

If you want to win against the competition and capture more than your fair share of the market, then shift your focus towards your customers. What do they purchase? What offers will get them from the pump and into your store to redeem? How do they engage with your brand?

The answers to these questions and more can all be obtained from your loyalty program—and your willingness to put the customer at the center of your loyalty strategy. Ready to get started? Contact us today.

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