With a global growth rate of around 20%, online retail is a booming sector. International brands are now able to sell to the majority of consumers on the planet, with their products available at the touch of a button. At the same time, smaller local and/or independent brands are capitalizing on the opportunities created by the very same global market, using third-party marketplaces like Amazon and eBay to trade internationally without having to invest in a global logistics network. This e-commerce explosion has led many to speculate that loyalty to individual brands will take a substantial hit as consumers are faced with an unprecedented breadth of options.
Global, but local: the perfect blend
The rise of cross-border e-commerce is both a blessing and a curse for local brands– it has become easier to buy overseas brands in the UAE, but equally UAE brands have good export opportunities. This blurring of international boundaries has seen many brands invest substantial time, money, and effort to blend global reach with local insight and specialisms, creating a consumer experience that is at once universal and market-specific.
This trend towards glocalization has so far focused on marketing and logistics: websites are translated into local languages and prices are quoted in the local currency, while payment platforms and fulfillment options take account of local habits and trends. But why should loyalty programs not also show appreciation of local needs, customs, and expectations? Brands must blend globally available flagship products and services with a carefully curated range of locally relevant items. McDonald’s, for instance, has pioneered this glocal approach to inventory, lining up iconic global products alongside local specialties.
Setting the stage for glocal loyalty
Glocalizing is as important to loyalty program managers as it is to any other business leader. As a brand’s reach extends internationally, its membership and demographic will naturally diversify and expand, calling for greater emphasis on localized rewards and vendor relationships. This is especially true for airlines, hotel groups, and other companies in the travel and hospitality sectors.
Such brands must explore how to engage with loyalty program members in locally relevant ways, with content tailored to individual markets according to local preferences and regularly updated in line with customer behavioral data gleaned from members’ interactions with their online programs. That might mean pursuing market-specific partnerships with local brands, or tapping into local cultural events or themes. Insight is a loyalty program manager’s North Star.
But local demands don’t always need to be matched with local products. Remember too that the glocalization of reward store inventory could mean stocking up on non-local-origin products that are en vogue in a given country– consider, for example, the strong appetite in UAE and the GCC for British brands.
Insights are invaluable
But achieving a truly glocalized rewards program is easier said than done. To do it efficiently and effectively requires loyalty program managers to consolidate data from a broad range of sources– from customer demography to transactional data to information about how members interact with specific offers or program elements. This kind of analysis isn’t easy, but the results are well worth the effort: cross-border loyalty programs with a local touch really do return significant ROI figures.
When a tourist from the USA is planning their vacation to the UAE, could they be targeted with a UAE rewards program, instead of irrelevant products that wouldn’t be as meaningful? Could your rewards inventory be expanded beyond a narrow selection from one country or region? Pushing the boundaries of what’s expected could have hugely beneficial results for your program and for your customer engagement.
To be sure your loyalty program is hitting all the right notes and not being left behind, a healthy amount of insight goes a long way– especially in the new global-local world we live in.