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Brand Redemption
Brand Marketeers, Redeem Yourself


 BY JAGDEEP KAPOOR

These days there are many loyalty programs, privilege cards and redemption schemes and promotions, which brands undertake. There is a lot of fanfare in announcing the promotional schemes and now with the festival season growing even stronger from the just celebrated Janmashtami to Diwali to Christmas to New Year, a number of schematic advertising campaigns and redemption promotions would be announced.

But do brand marketeers and companies really ensure that the consumer gets the redemption offer when he or she goes to redeem it? Do brand marketeers take care that loyalty program members are treated with royalty when they need to redeem their points. I think it is a mixed experience with some brands doing extremely well and others doing a horrible job.

With regard to brand redemption, my message to the brand marketeers is Ė redeem yourself or the customer will get very angry and switch to other brands.

Lets us look at the positive experiences. In the case of ITC Grand Maratha Sheraton, Mumbai, there is a very well designed loyalty process which helps customers redeem their loyalty program - Sheraton Plus membership points in a fine, graceful and prompt manner. Infact theirs is an example wherein not, only a brand redemption is done well, but the people serving and redeeming at the hotel are well trained to ensure a pleasant and rewarding experience to Sheraton Plus members at the ITC Grand Maratha Sheraton.

Another positive experience is at Crossword, the family book store, wherein spontaneous enthusiasm, excellent service and instant redemption of points of the Crossword Book Rewards program makes it a delight for a reader and a customer to visit, buy and participate in the Crossword Book Rewards experience.

Both ITC Grand Maratha Sheraton and Crossword are very positive experiences where they treat their loyalty members with great royalty and prompt service.

However, there are some bad examples of the customers not being treated with royalty, while participating in a loyalty program. In the case of a bad experience another 5 Star hotel in the suburbs regularly fails to redeem loyalty program points making all kinds of excuses. One excuse is of the kind that you would be given the free room night based on the redemption points you have earned, if you contact only one week earlier than the desired date for redemption. When contacted one week earlier they give an excuse that rooms are not available and hence the redemption points would lapse. Then the advice that you should contact one day prior to the check-in date and if rooms are available we will give you. Then they advice that you could call up a month in advance, and if the customers does so, the customer is told that it is too far ahead to give a confirmation. All this is done to the customer, who has genuinely earned redemption points after spending money at the 5 Star and still be made to rush from pillar to post like a beggar. So much for treating loyalty for royalty. This 5 Star hotel rings up once in a year only to renew the loyalty program and to collect the annual fees and does not care about the customers feelings, when genuine redemption points are not redeemed. This is an example of brand experience wherein the brand marketeer needs, not only to redeem the customer points, but also redeem himself.

In another bad experience, for example a large organised retail store, which has tied up with a promotion of a large shoe brand and has advertised heavily recently about the promotion, fails to redeem the points and surely dissatisfies customers. The promotion is that on purchase of certain quantum of goods, from a particular set of stores there would be free gift coupons given worth 100ís or 1000ís of rupees based on different slabs of purchase. However, when the customers make large purchases, the brand marketeers tells the customers that they have run out of stock of redemption coupons and would have to be contacted after a week to collect the free coupon, thus making the customer go through the pain of another trip to the store and literally making the customer beg for what was promised to be given as a reward. It is surprising that though brand marketeers donít run out of ideas for launching redemption schemes, they do run out of redemption coupons when the customers wants to redeem. This is another example of bad experience.

I think, I should end the article on a pleasant note, on 2 good experiences of redemption and let me add a third good experience. The Taj Group of Hotel with their Inner Circle loyalty is a terrific example of excellent service, prompt redemption and genuinely treating customers well in their loyalty program, with royalty and giving them a choice of redemption.

I wish more loyalty programs are run well, in the way Taj Inner Circle, Crossword Book Reward and the ITC Grand Maratha Sheraton Plus. These are excellent examples of good service and prompt redemption.

For some others, brand marketeers need to redeem themselves.

The author is Brand Guru Jagdeep Kapoor, Managing Director of the successful Samsika Marketing Consultancy Pvt. Ltd.
Tel: 022-28597700/7701 Fax: 28597699 E-mail: jkapoor@samsika.com

Copyright © 2007 All rights reserved with Jagdeep Kapoor, Managing Director, Samsika Marketing Consultants Pvt. Ltd.
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