Growing the Value of Customer Communities

Looking across products, services and experiences, consumer choice and access is constantly reaching a new pinnacle, creating an omniplatform and omnibrand shopper mindset. Across today’s expansive digital landscape, conversations around community–not just membership but active participation on behalf of consumers–is one strategy organizations are exploring as a means to not only stand out but earn long-term affinity. To build the type of community that goes beyond points systems and one-off discounted purchases, businesses are testing ideas around how to better involve consumers in the decision making process, provide more dynamic rewards and create a more equitable value exchange between consumer and retailer.

To activate their communities, organizations are involving them from the ground up, treating fan-based chat groups and forums as sounding boards for product development and spaces to discover new opportunities to act on. Further, with the proliferation of DAOs and community-owned organizations, consumers are recognizing the power of community stakeholders, and the access those memberships provide in terms of perks, profit and decision making opportunities. Meanwhile, cryptocurrencies, digital wallets and more defined use cases for NFTs have inspired organizations to explore the idea of ownership as access and how that can elevate their loyalty program by attaching exclusive perks, amplified services and limited edition experiences around a token-based buy-in model. Looking ahead, as brands, event planners, performers and creators look to generate ongoing excitement and build on long-term relationships, there is also an opportunity to explore the idea of digital souvenirs, connecting one-time events, product drops, or membership sign-ups to the promise of future experiences and exclusive access.

In a new research report, the PSFK iQ research team explores the strategies retailers, brands and organizations can apply to meet their members with added value, activate their communities, and ultimately drive ongoing business success.

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Consumer Insights Driving Community Engagement

Consumers see value in participating in loyalty programs but there’s an opportunity for brands/retailers to offer more beyond standardized offerings.
62% of consumers belong to at least four loyalty programs, suggesting there is strong interest in the space.
PSFK Membership & Community Survey, 2022

Consumers want more out of their memberships in terms of added value, and expect to be rewarded beyond their purchases.
The majority of consumers (74%) agree or strongly agree that retailers should customize their loyalty program to reflect them as an individual.
PSFK Membership & Community Survey, 2022

The majority of consumers (71%) agree or strongly agree they should be rewarded for activities beyond making purchases such as sharing feedback or product reviews.
PSFK Membership & Community Survey, 2022

Strategies Driving Community Engagement

COMMUNITY AS STAKEHOLDER

With the rise of DAOs or member-owned communities, the power dynamic between a consumer and their favorite brand or retailer is becoming a more equitable experience. Rather than joining a passive membership program, consumers are able to register their commitment to a brand, creator or initiative by buying into their business or supporting a piece of work via an NFT purchase. In return, these super-fans are awarded benefits within the company i.e. profit sharing and voting rights, and an active voice in determining how the community, business, or initiative grows and expands.

DIGITAL SOUVENIRS

Beginning first within crypto communities and now appearing across more traditional events like live sports, concerts and even brand clubs, digital tickets or POAPs (proof of attendance protocol tokens) have transformed into collectible, digital souvenirs. By purchasing a ticket or membership badge in the form of an NFT or token, audiences are not only able to signify their early interest in a particular artist, designer, community or business, but also show authenticated proof of their fandom and attendance at exclusive events. For retailers, these POAPs are helping to identify brand enthusiasts and high-priority customers, and creating opportunities to share special perks, products or services with their most loyal fans in the future.

FAN FOCUS GROUPS

A hyper-loyal and engaged fan base affords brands and retailers a dedicated and passionate resource for feedback on everything from existing products and upcoming launches to charitable efforts and corporate initiatives. Retailers and brands are transforming passive communities into valuable assets by inviting top-followers and fans to participate in discussions, AB testing and feedback sessions. These efforts strengthen consumer relationships but also unearth new needs and opportunities for the business to take action on.

Featured Case-Studies

ALIBABA’S LOYALTY PROGRAM REWARDS ITS MOST-ACTIVE MEMBERS WITH EXCLUSIVE SERVICES

The ecommerce giant is leveraging economies of scale through its loyalty program.

COMPLEX NETWORKS LEVERAGES YOUTHFUL COMMUNITY FOR CULTURAL INSIGHT

Complex Networks, the American media and entertainment company owned by BuzzFeed Inc., is tapping its unique audience as a focus group for brands.

PRIVATE DINING CLUB ACCESSIBLE ONLY THROUGH NFT PURCHASE, LEASE

Serial entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk is launching New York’s first NFT-based membership restaurant.

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