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How to create a gold-standard food and beverage loyalty program, featuring Au Vodka

When it comes to ecommerce, standing out and fostering a sense of loyalty in your customer base is crucial for sustained success. While creating a loyalty program is no new concept, building one that completely redefines your marketing strategy and turns your everyday customers into diehard fans is something completely different.

The Shopify food and beverage market is a vibrant ecosystem characterized by fierce competition and evolving consumer preferences. From artisanal snacks to premium spirits, brands are constantly battling for attention in a digital marketplace overflowing with options.

With its iconic gold bottles, award-winning flavors, and disruptive marketing techniques, our client Au Vodka quickly gained traction in the UK market. However, the brand’s aspirations extended far beyond its home turf. They wanted to replicate their success on a global scale. This ambition propelled Au Vodka to explore new avenues for growth, leading to the launch of its ecommerce platform and, subsequently, its loyalty program. 

We recently caught up with their Digital Experience Lead, Luke Ebbens, to find out more about how they worked with LoyaltyLion to blueprint an innovative loyalty program that now represents 30% of their overall e-commerce revenue.   

Knowing you’re ready for a loyalty program

The decision to implement a loyalty program is not one to be taken lightly. It requires careful consideration of various factors, including customer behavior, business objectives, and technological capabilities. For Au Vodka, the need for a loyalty program stemmed from a desire to mitigate seasonal demand fluctuations and cultivate direct relationships with its customers. 

Luke underscores the importance of keeping customers engaged during slower periods and enhancing their overall shopping experience, stating that they’re “focused on creating more longer-lasting, emotional connections with our fanbase rather than a short-term cashback incentive that a lot of people opt for.” 

What results can a loyalty program drive?

The benefits of a loyalty program extend far beyond just boosting sales. They offer a platform for brands to deepen their connection with customers, drive brand advocacy, and gather valuable insights into consumer behavior. 

By incentivizing repeat purchases and rewarding loyalty, brands can create a sense of exclusivity with their customer base, encouraging long-term relationships and communities around their products.

Some of the key metrics that you’ll want to focus on with your loyalty program include:

1. Customer retention rates

The whole aim of a customer loyalty program is to increase your retention rates, incentivize repeat purchases, and foster stronger relationships with your customers, making your retention rates a key figure to keep an eye on. 

2. Purchase frequency

When you offer more rewards and incentives, customers are more likely to make frequent purchases. If your purchase frequency is going up, you’re doing something right. 

3. Average order value

Loyalty programs tend to drive up the average order value of each of your customers, as they’re encouraged to spend more to unlock more rewards or higher tiers of the program.

4. Customer lifetime value

When your retention rates and purchase frequencies go up, so does the lifetime value of your customers, making this a great metric to review over time.

5. Satisfaction scores

When your customers are happy and engaged, they’re more likely to participate in your loyalty programs. This means that by introducing one, you’ll likely see your customer satisfaction scores go up as well. 

Since launching its program in late 2022, Au Vodka has boosted its returning customer rate by 40% year on year, with redeeming members of their loyalty program worth a huge 4.5 times more than non-members.

Members also purchase 4-5 times more than non-members, spending an average of £20 more per purchase. The loyalty program is now worth about 30% of their online revenue, representing seven figures on their bottom line. 

When your loyalty program is up and running, where do you focus next?

Launching a loyalty program is just the beginning of the journey towards building enduring customer relationships. It’s vital to recognize that loyalty is not a static concept; rather, it’s a dynamic process that requires ongoing attention and investment. 

Au Vodka’s experience underscores the notion that loyalty is never complete—it’s an ongoing endeavor that demands continuous innovation and refinement.

While launching a loyalty program may yield immediate results, sustaining and maximizing its impact requires long-term commitment and strategic foresight. It should be seen as a continuous process, evolving in line with customer behaviors and expectations, as well as market dynamics and shifts. Here are some key areas that you might want to consider when building upon your existing program:


It’s always a good idea to review and optimize your loyalty program, making sure that it remains relevant, effective and competitive. This could be within the program mechanics, rewards structure, or communication strategy – and a good place to get ideas is from customer feedback. 

Segmentation and personalization

Leveraging your customer data is a great way to segment your audience and deliver personalized experiences and rewards. Au Vodka’s focus on understanding customer segments and tailoring loyalty initiatives accordingly made a huge difference to their engagement, building strong connections with their audience and an even more loyal ‘fanbase’.


Always make sure you stay ahead of the curve by continuously innovating and differentiating yourself from others in the market. To do this, you can experiment with unique rewards, experiential incentives, and gamification elements to capture customers’ attention and foster loyalty. 

Global expansion

Consider expanding your loyalty program to new markets and territories to reach a broader audience and unlock new growth opportunities. Au Vodka’s plans to take its loyalty program to the US exemplify the strategic value of global expansion in scaling loyalty initiatives and driving brand awareness.

Creating a loyalty program that works as hard as you do during peak periods

Your loyalty program is not a set-and-forget item that sits in the background. It’s a strategic tool that helps you move away from discounts and keep customers engaged all year round. It can also work just as hard as you do during peak periods, as Au Vodka found out during BFCM. 

Rather than just launching their program and leaving their customers to it – they have implemented some great marketing campaigns to go alongside it, encouraging more people to sign up and spend with them.  

A great example of this was their Black Friday event last year. They decided to shut their entire online shop down to the general public, giving out exclusive passwords to log in and purchase only to members of their loyalty program. Non-members were given a chance to sign up separately to gain their password – a move which increased their membership by a huge 33% over the month. 

Continually building community all year round is of the utmost importance to Luke and the team at Au Vodka. They see the most effective way to drive engagement and community with loyal customers as offering exclusive events, forums, and social media engagement opportunities. This is something they are hoping to introduce much more of in the near future, giving their top-tier customers the chance to win holidays or tickets to hosted events.

Choosing your loyalty partner

Choosing the ideal loyalty partner involves weighing up a few different things. This could be the benefits of standalone platforms versus suite providers, different integration options, or how trustworthy their security practices are in line with your requirements. 

For Au Vodka, their decision came down to finding a partner who understood their vision and was dedicated to making it work. They wanted someone willing to innovate and collaborate, creating something completely new that the market hadn’t seen before. LoyaltyLion’s expertise and dedication proved instrumental in bringing Au Vodka’s loyalty program to life.

“We had this plan and we wanted it done perfectly. When I approached you guys it was almost as if you were as excited as I was, which was great to see.”


Loyalty programs can be hugely powerful tools for fostering lasting relationships, driving revenue growth, and building vibrant communities around brands. It’s clear that they represent more than just a means of driving sales—they embody a commitment to customer-centricity and a dedication to delivering value beyond transactions. The revenue, loyalty, and sense of community that loyalty programs bring are invaluable assets for brands seeking sustainable growth and long-term success.

It’s essential to tailor loyalty programs to suit the unique needs and preferences of your audience, embracing innovation and differentiation to stay ahead of the curve. 

At LoyaltyLion, we understand the power of personalized loyalty solutions and the importance of getting them right. Our team is dedicated to helping brands unlock the full potential of their loyalty programs, driving meaningful results, and fostering enduring connections with customers. To find out more about how we can create the ideal solution for your brand, get in touch today. 

About the author

Fiona Stevens

Fiona Stevens is the Head of Marketing at LoyaltyLion, a data-driven loyalty and engagement platform for fast-growth ecommerce merchants. LoyaltyLion helps thousands of retailers worldwide to build fully customized loyalty programs, proven to increase customer engagement, retention and spend. Fiona has almost 15 years experience in Marketing, having worked in-house and agency side across functions including PR, SEO and content. She has specialized in loyalty for retail and ecommerce brands for the past eight years.

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