Brands using loyalty schemes to make customers stick

Taking cognisance of the paradigm shift in the consumer behaviour in the urban landscape of the country with the advent of plastic money, companies across the board have struck upon a novel idea — the ‘Gift cards.’ Gift cards have become part of the customer loyalty programmes where they are induced to buy as loyal customers of brands of their choice. Loyalty programmes enable retailers to sell more and also helps customer to earn points that can be redeemed for a wide variety of rewards. Besides getting points, these cards also provide privileges like an invite for the preview of a sale, getting special entertainment or a cricket match ticket, etc. QwikCilver Bangalore-based firm, which specialises in stored value card solutions, had, about three years ago, developed and launched its flexible technology platform that facilitates retailers to create newer custom gift card products and change the promotional behaviour of the products. QwikCilver has, in the last three years tied-up with varied retailers from different sectors, including Titan (watches), PVR (cinema), Landmark (books & gifts), Peter England (men’s garments), Planet Fashion (clothes), among others. Speaking to Deccan Herald, QwikCilver Co-founder & Chief Marketing Officer T P Pratap said: “Unlike gift vouchers, gift cards can be both partly spent by the receiver and re-gifted by topping it up. And many of our partners have already launched this nationally.” The card, he pointed out, can be used physically over the counter as well as electronically, operating through the websites of the various brands that have associated themselves with QwikCilver. India is following the trend in the international market where brands have moved away from paper voucher to electronic real time vouchers in retail sales. Not a fashion yet Country’s largest watch maker Titan is a major user of Gift card to induce loyalty. Commenting on the Gift Card Titan Watches Retail Head Jaikishen Mehta said: “The response has been encouraging for the channel, and it is being promoted as one of the marketing differentiators. Although customers have not yet got into the habit of buying Gift Cards, it is a trend that is picking up fast.” Though the telecom market has almost entirely moved to pre-paid mode, for other products the usage is still low because the market is yet to develop and the ecosystem is inadequate, said Pratap. Agreed, RewardPort India Chief Marketing Officer Girish Khare, “Currently only the airline and retail sectors are enjoying a relatively good showing at the as far as their loyalty programmes are concerned. However, airports as point of activity are waking up to the potential and are in fact having begun launching their programmes.” PAYBACK (earlier known as i-mint) India’s first multi-partner loyalty programme has a member base of over 10 million and over 1,500 partner outlets in India, CEO & MD Vijay Bobba said “The market potential in India is huge and coalition loyalty clearly is the way forward in India. With an estimated size of US$ 350 billion today, India’s retail industry alone has reached critical mass.” With a number of foreign players entering the country, the loyalty market is expected to become very active and is expected to grow at growth rate of 20 per cent. Brands are also using mobile as a medium for loyalty schemes as Accentiv COO Ashok M S said “Mobiles eliminates the need for a card and also brings in greater cleanliness to customer contact data, making communication easy.”