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Simple steps can offer huge emotional benefit

At our Loyalty Day 2021 we felt it important to include valuable insight from outside of the charity sector, asking what can we learn from organisations such as the big retail giants that run huge and successful loyalty programmes. It was a pleasure to welcome our speaker Sam Winterson to share his experience of working with John Lewis and Waitrose during a 20-year career in loyalty roles. His reflections gave us insight into the commercial world and the balancing act between the emotional and rational sides of loyalty.

Sam, currently Innovation Lead at began by asking, “Data can be so powerful. But if you had that data, what would you do with it? How would you use insight to drive fundraising and create better experiences or events for your supporters?”

It’s important to be thinking about the supporter experience through every single part of the journey, and it’s good to challenge and test new ways to engage.

A great source of inspiration is our peers within the charity sector, a sector known for sharing and learning lessons from each other.

But charities can also learn from the corporate world. The retail sector is constantly looking at what the future of loyalty might be as well as attempting to balance the emotional and rational sides of loyalty.

The rational side can be ticked off with loyalty schemes offering a clear reward and benefit. But the emotional side is much harder, which makes for an interesting challenge.

A simple, but hugely successful, step saw John Lewis invite some of their best customers to local branches to watch a preview of their famed Christmas advert a night before it aired to the wider world. It was a move that didn’t cost much, but made their customers feel like gold dust.

Another example saw Waitrose listen to their environmentally conscious customers when they took the bold decision, at the time, to scrap their free coffee cups and only give out coffee to those who brought in their own mug.

What opportunities do you have or could create that have a really high-perceived value or high emotional reaction?

It is about learning lessons, listening and reacting – what worked and what didn’t work and why, and applying this to your customer or supporter engagement. Just like in the commercial sector, you need to find the balance between emotional and rational loyalty.

The curious case of John Hurd’s Organic Watercress

The fascinating insight Waitrose discovered about John Hurd’s Organic Watercress was that it was almost exclusively bought by its ‘best customers’.

Typically, a store manager doesn’t know who are the best customers, and perhaps at your events, you don’t know who your most loyal supporters are. But, at Waitrose, it was easy to identify any person who picked up this brand of watercress as a shopper who also fulfilled other criteria of a Waitrose ‘best customer’.

Retailers have very sophisticated CRM data at their fingertips. How do you use this to identify the best customers? Do they open emails, participate in events, are there certain products they buy?

That path to best, and the understanding of that, can cross over to the non-profit sector. Are there early indicators of ‘best customers’ that could perhaps be nurtured and not missed?

Watch Sam’s full Loyalty Day talk on the lessons charities can learn from the commercial world on YouTube.


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