Spotlight: Mike Ribero, the Loyalty Visionary, Pt. 1
Richard Jones: I am really excited about this session today, for two reasons. Firstly, I borrowed this sweet pad from a buddy of mine. And secondly, I'm going to be sitting down with a seasoned C- suite executive that has rolled out loyalty programs and customer engagement strategies at the likes of EA Games, Eastern Airlines and Hilton Hotels. But first I need to give you a little bit of context. Some people say that brand to consumer relationships have got on a little icy lately. Recently we've seen things like consumers reacting against the abuse of their data by adtech and the stop for profit movement. Criticizing brands for advertising on platforms that have done little to limit the spread of harmful content. Also for brands picked up too many dirty habits. When dealing with consumer data, do we need to clean up our act in that department? Did we miss the rise of the ethical consumer and what that means for our brand's reputation? 2021 digital consumer trend index report by E- consultancy showed that two thirds of consumers think retargeting ads derived from cookie tracking is creepy, not cool. In fact, many of the marketing tactics we have been using are probably muddying our relationships with consumers rather than strengthening them. In the same report 72% of consumers said that getting adverts from companies they don't know was creepy 66% said the adverts that have followed them across devices were also off putting. And what 77% of consumers when asked, said that they were positively brand pulling adverts from Facebook. So today I have a very special guest. I'm going to ask him, is the brand to consumer relationship ripe for reinvention? And the consumer data would say so in fact, 79% of US consumers would rather that brands spent less time advertising to them on Facebook and more time investing in loyalty programs to reward them for their business. Which is why I am thrilled to be talking to Mike Robero CEO of Reach.
Speaker 1: Hey, how are you?
Richard Jones: Good.
Speaker 1: What's that?
Richard Jones: Oh, this I forgot my clubs.
Speaker 1: Oh, give me that. Watch and learn.
Richard Jones: All right.
Speaker 1: Let's do this.
Tim: Welcome back to another are thinking cap spotlight, where we really distill a long form piece of content into a very quick bite size. And I'm here today with Richard Jones, our CMO who Rich you interviewed Mike Robero, who I think is a living legend and loyalty in this tiny little bungalow and a hill in Palo Alto. He's kind of a big deal though in loyalty, right?
Richard Jones: Yeah. He's a literal walking history book on loyalty. Having worked his entire career and setting these programs up from Eastern and Continental Airlines to Hilton Honors. You name it. He knows the industry inside out and he thinks it's basically high time that there is a reinvention in the way that brands build relationships with consumers.
Tim: Well, let's roll clip here and see what Mike had to say.
Richard Jones: Now, obviously you're now CEO of, Reach, which is doing some really interesting things in the loyalty space. We'll come onto that a little bit later, but what I wanted to ask you was why do you think the relationship between brands and consumers is actually ripe for reinvention?
Mike Robero: Well it's a it's a combination of factors. I think it starts with the fact that we've enjoyed 12 years of robust economic growth after the recession in 2008. And frankly, I think marketers got a little bit complacent and they got enamored with, with MarTech. And, and if you think about it now, there is so much technology that sits between the consumer and the brand that, that personal connection, which by the way, loyalty programs were intended.
Richard Jones: To facilitate.
Mike Robero: And build have been forsaken to a certain extent. And so when you look at the research today, the thing that consumers want most from their brands is human contact. The last thing they want is to talk to another automated attendant. And so that combined with now privacy and consumers becoming aware of the fact that permission based marketing was thrown out the window with the dawn of the digital age brands are using their data, unbeknownst to them in many cases and, how that data's being used is unbeknownst to them. And then you combine the third factor, which is the wild card COVID. And the fact that we are operating under a new normal right now where nobody really knows things are going to settle out. If you want to succeed in today's environment, you have to get closer to your customer. And the only way you can do that is by reconnecting with them in a much more personal way.
Richard Jones: You've got a long career in the way loyalty programs have operated. What do you think has been the missed opportunities in the way loyalties, traditionally being run?
Mike Robero: The analogy I like to make is when you think about loyalty, starting with the American Airlines advantage program, modern day loyalty, let's call it in the mid 80's and it really getting popular in the late 80's let's call it. And you look at what mobile phone looked like back then and a television. And you look at what those things look like today versus a loyalty program, massive changes with phones and TVs, not much with loyalty programs, loyalty programs are still basically unchanged other than the fact that the currency is devalued every single year, which is why, unfortunately, if you look across industry according to bond and other research loyalty program member satisfaction is under 50% across the board. There's not a single category that has loyalty program member of satisfaction over 50%. And when you look at the millennial, which is the audience that every brand wants today, and few understand, it's under 40%. So something has to change. And I think it really starts with rethinking the relationship between the customer and the brand.
Richard Jones: I've heard you talk before about the Edelman's trust index. Are we saying this sort of broader erosion of trust between brand and consumer now outside of loyalty programs, but just in general?
Mike Robero: What we've seen it for the last 20 years, right? Loyalty has been in decline pretty steadily for 20 years as the brand has gotten further and further away from the customer. You know, I've always wondered how can you really do personalization well when you don't have a personal relationship with the customer? Personalization starts with the word personal. And so it really comes down to a very simple question that we ask brands. And that is why would you build a platform and a strategy around simply incentivizing and rewarding purchases when there's so much more a consumer can do today, a customer can do today that can add value to your brand? With today's technology there's so much a customer can do writing reviews, referring friends and family becoming an advocate or even an influencer on social media. All of that can be harnessed, but it has to start with a really solid foundation.
Richard Jones: We do a digital trends consumer index every year, and we track the answers from year on year. And actually what we are seeing is that loyalty programs and the kind of things that consumers were engaged with it is shifting from wanting just, points for purchases to actually embracing a whole variety of different things. So that sense of belonging, that meet my connection with the brand, the social capital I'll get by sharing something joined with the purpose that that brand has the rise of the ethical of consumer. We are seeing a real big shift away from points prefer purchases to more experiential, more sense of belonging. How do you think brands that may have been more focused on transactional relationships? How do they embrace this change in consumer attitudes?
Mike Robero: All it takes is will, but unfortunately it also takes technology and, unfortunately a lot of the legacy loyalty programs out there don't really lend themselves or don't have the flexibility to provide that kind of connection, especially on the soft of the emotional side.
Richard Jones: And Tim, there was so much great material in this particular interview that we are going to have a second thinking cap, spotlight, digging into the great advice that Mike Robero was offering. So that's coming up next.
Tim: You know, we have so much good content from Mike and the QR code that's on your screen right now. You can scan that to get to that second thinking cap spotlight or you can always go to Cheetadigital. com, go to the resources section under client stories, webinars, eBooks, everything, find all kinds of content there. So thanks for watching this one. Go watch the second one.
Mike is currently the CEO of REACH and will share his vision for what customer engagement really needs to be successful today and in the future, all based on his amazing experience helping shape some of the most successful programs ever launched.