The COVID-19 pandemic has made the collective world press “pause” but now we’re looking ahead to what life will be like when the “play” button is once again engaged. The way consumers think and act has evolved throughout this time, especially now as small pieces of normality are beginning to be reintroduced into our lives. With this, brands are faced with a new landscape that tosses aside assumptions about consumer likes and dislikes.
A staple of any brand’s strategy to successfully engage in this new landscape should be to place a focus on its most valuable advocates: engaged and loyal customers. One of the most common ways to do this is by rewarding customers via loyalty programs and promotional engagements. However, as consumers’ lives change, their expectations and needs also shift, and the prizes and rewards that are meant to support these high-value customer relationships must evolve along with them.
A new spin on vacations
Throughout history, few word combinations have elicited more excitement than an “all-expenses-paid vacation.” For years, the chance to get away from daily life has helped propel countless consumers to participate in numerous sweepstakes.
With the ripple effects of this pandemic felt by not only America, but the entire world, the compelling power of a vacation may look a little different to the average consumer.
Overall cleanliness concerns, as well as border restrictions, pose a serious threat to the enjoyment of any promotion winner. Instead of a vacation in the traditional sense, brands should look for ways to frame different experiences under a broader definition of travel, using alternative prizing themes that can help curtail the limitations of vacation prizes.
Private in-home chef service, The Culinistas, knew that their business model of sending chefs to the homes of busy customers was not going to work during the crisis. To help drive awareness of their brand, and to offer something relevant beyond their normal value proposition, they launched a staycation sweepstakes that brought an “ultimate day of isolation” to the winner. Utilizing existing relationships, The Culinistas were able to build an exciting, unique experience without the winner needing to leave their house. Fulfilled in the form of partner gift cards and physical products, the true value of the prize goes beyond a single day, such as two months of free fitness classes and a high-quality sauté pan that will last into the future.
(Digital) cash is still king
Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, consumers – especially younger ones – valued flexibility in the ways they were able to use rewards. While digital gift cards are still a viable reward in a post-coronavirus marketplace, other flexible forms of monetary rewards should also be considered in response to emerging trends.
Through the pandemic, consumers have been forced to adapt old habits to their new lifestyle. People still want to shop and purchase products, but in most cases, they are still somewhat limited in their ability or desire to physically visit stores. Mobile payment apps such as PayPal and Venmo can now be utilized to fulfill monetary prizes. Funds are simply added to the user’s existing account: easy, seamless, and immediate. The existing integration of these payment platforms among many major brands makes it a perfect fit to provide real, relevant value to consumers as digital transactions rise.
Offering effortless, seamless digital rewards enables consumers to stay in control of their experience, allowing them to feel good about winning a prize, and not nervous about how they are going to use it.
How should brands approach their own prizing strategies?
When plotting out rewards strategies in a post-COVID-19 landscape, consider these three points: keep it simple, align on prize value, and focus on relevancy and supporting relationships with your consumers. The beauty is that brands can take these three strategies and implement them in ways that make sense for their brand persona and their customers.
Kraft Heinz understood that, in the aftermath of lockdowns and social distancing, people would be looking forward to summer more than ever. The company’s Bite into Summer Instant Win Game keeps it simple by offering thousands of prize packs designed for attainable summer fun, such as backyard barbeques, biking, and fishing via an easy to navigate entry site. By offering a fun game experience and prizing that gives registrants something to look forward to, Kraft Heinz realigns on the value of the prize through the COVID-19 lens – making it relevant and compelling.
Brands will weather the COVID-19 storm with the support of their customers. As you emerge into the new landscape of consumer engagement, put emphasis on how rewards strategies are approached and executed. Seek to provide compelling, relevant value to consumers that considers the external and internal challenges we are all facing together.