Reward Program Trends - What We Heard at NACS Show 2018

Posted by Brent Harms on Wed, Oct 24, 2018 @ 12:03 PM

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We just returned from another great NACS Show in Vegas! This year, there were many sessions addressing convenience store marketing, including how to attract and retain customers. The topics ranged from sessions like “Be-friending Social Media”, “Getting Customers in your Store”, “Promotions that Work”, “The Power of Rewards Programs”, and “Mobile Roundtable”. The other topic of note related to data and included the sessions “Getting Started with Data Collection and Benchmarking” and “Using AI to Improve your BI”. 

So, what are the key takeaways related to marketing, and more specifically, to reward programs?

Results Driven Reward Programs

We are beginning to see a significant shift to programs that truly focus on changing customer behavior and driving sales.    No longer is it just about reacting to your competition or giving your customers benefits such as discounts at the pump or punch cards like coffee clubs.  Programs need to evolve beyond that to effectively impact customer behavior and increase sales.

Implement Digital to Connect to your Customer

Customers want your program to be simple and convenient to join. This means that in most cases they don’t want to carry a card, but it also means they can effectively be promoted to through their phones via mobile app notifications, text messages, or email communications. However, continuing to offer cards as a participation option is still important so that you maintain a variety of ways to connect with all of your customers.  

Data to Actionable Analytics and Intelligence

We all know and understand the importance of data. What we are hearing from our customers and prospects is that they need to get to the next level of data, ideally right down to tracking each customer’s transactional activity to identify which specific SKUs they are buying. Once you have that, you can begin to turn data into insightful reporting via business intelligence and artificial intelligence tools. Accessing this level of information leads to targeted, relevant communications and promotional offers to your customers.


Including partners in your reward program strategy is a critical, evolving trend. Providing more value to program members via expanded offerings such as food ordering through your mobile app can help differentiate you from competitors. Partnering with retailers on CPG offers gives your customers better deals and even puts more money in your pocket to help pay for the program.

More Personalized Communications and Targeted Promotions to Customers

This is a key goal of the above items. With the detailed data and ways to covert this to actionable information, you can use things like CPG partner offers to drive more sales. Another effective tool is a mobile app that uses location-based technology to drive your customers from the pump to in-store buying opportunities. Tecmark is also introducing communication plans focused on lifestyle activity and events; we are beginning to use this in our product-based retail sector.

As always, please reach out to us to discuss how these factors will help you design a great new rewards program or improve what you have already in place.

Brent Harms, Founder & CEO


Tags: Loyalty Marketing, Customer Experience, Loyalty Learning, Mobile App