It perhaps needs to be clearly stated that true customer loyalty is not the same as a successful customer loyalty rewards programme.
A loyalty programme can never replaced, or even attempt to mimic, the complex and intangible dynamic of the relationship between a brand and an individual customer, but even at a programme level, there is huge value in understanding what changes are happening in the local loyalty industry and using this understanding to improve and evolve a rewards scheme.
The open opportunity for South African brands
My take from reading the report and chatting to Amanda is that although the 'rewards programme' space in South Africa is becoming increasingly crowded - there is still a huge opportunity for brands that are committed to unlocking real loyalty to strategically innovating the overall experience that they are offering.
Far too many brands are seemingly believing that a rewards programme alone will magically solve their loyalty challenges, when in truth - the programme itself is really just the physical artefact of a, much-needed, deeper and engaging loyalty experience that needs to be purposefully-designed and creatively-driven.
Capturing the ongoing enthusiastic support of customers is a fundamentally creative pursuit that should be supported and augmented by data and a well-designed rewards programme.
The programme on it's own is not enough.
So looking ahead, what's clear is that there is still opportunity for a dynamic player to take the lead in the local loyalty game.
That's not saying that brands aren't doing a good job...they are.
What's missing is a South African brand that totally dominates their competitors by leveraging a holistic view of loyalty coupled with an immersive, engaging and seamless customer experience as a defendable differentiator.