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Using aspiration and exclusivity to drive brand loyalty – 5 top tips

“Customers are king” might be an age-old business mantra, however, today’s competitive business landscape makes it more important than ever. Customers are demanding a seamless experience and value from retailers. And, if the experience doesn’t meet their demands, they won’t hesitate to make a switch.  

When we asked 2,000 customers about what made them loyal to a brand, we found out that aspiration and exclusivity are two of the key drivers.  

To build long-term relationships with consumers, it’s essential to make your customers feel like VIPs and to give them something to work towards. 

To grow the advocates you have, focus on making your most loyal customers feel special. This is especially important as our research showed that 74% of customers become loyal to a brand if they have something to aspire to. 

Find out how you can foster loyalty by giving your customers an exclusive experience that gives them something to work towards. 

1. Understand your customers’ motivations 

Firstly, you need to understand what drives your customers to ensure you’re offering the right rewards and benefits that build loyalty. When we spoke to shoppers, we found: 

79% said that they are motivated to engage with a loyalty program if they receive financial incentives 
66% are looking for experience-based rewards. It’s clear that experiential benefits can lure in long-term customers. 
– We also found that 79% of customers feel that they are motivated by accumulating points that they can benefit from later. 

2. Create a feeling of exclusivity through a tier-based program 

When it comes to building a loyalty program that plays to these motivations, think about creating a tier-based program that includes both financial and experiential rewards in exchange for loyalty points. Here’s how to do it. 

Loyalty tiers give your customers something to aspire to, always showing them more exclusive rewards on the horizon. Allowing customers to unlock bigger and better perks at higher levels, encourages them to engage more frequently so that they meet the points threshold to unlock a new tier. 

Case Study: 100% Pure 

Natural beauty brand, 100% Pure created a tiered loyalty program called ‘Purist Perks’ that enables members to progress through three levels: “Enthusiast”, “Activist” and “Revolutionist”.  

The increasing rewards and status within higher tiers provide the ultimate feeling of exclusivity. Members who reach the “Revolutionist” tier gain early access to new products and priority customer service. Experiential rewards like this will show your returning customers that they’re special to you.  

As a result, they’ll keep coming back, become advocates on your behalf and contribute to positive conversations about your store. 

Read our full 100% Pure case study

3. Offer that VIP feeling with exclusive access 

Exclusive access is one of the most common approaches to keeping a loyal customer engaged. Through tiers, you can offer your customers exclusive access to new products or seasonal sales.  

You can also create promotional campaigns to surprise your loyal customers with VIP rewards on their birthday or anniversary of being your customer. 

Case Study: Mirenesse 

Mirenesse knew that they needed to extend the VIP feeling further to drive conversions. To achieve this, they created a tiered loyalty program that includes a VIP tier customers have to pay to access.  

Thanks to their paid membership tier, members feel that they are part of an exclusive club. They can subscribe to “Gold” treatment for a $10 monthly fee. In return, they receive access to secret sales, tester panels and new collections.  

As a result, Mirenesse’s loyalty program members spend 73% more than guest visitors. Furthermore, loyalty program members generate 54% of the brand’s revenue. 

4. Show loyal customers they’re valued with exclusive gifts 

Research shows that 70% of buying decisions are based on how customers feel they are being treated. This is why offering exclusive gifts will increase your revenue whilst building longer-term customer connections. 

To encourage your at-risk customers to return to your store, surprise them with exclusive gifts or points on their birthday. This will show how much you value them and strengthen your relationship. 

To encourage your regular customers to repeat purchase and spend more, offer exclusive gifts as they move up your loyalty program tiers.  

For instance, Never Fully Dressed offers “surprise gifts” to their members who are in the “Supremely Sassy” tier. NFD rewards its most loyal members with elite gifts to make them feel extra special. Their loyal members now spend 56% more regular customers. 

5. Host events and exclusive experiences 

Today customers are looking for an experience that makes them feel valued by their favourite brands.

91% of customers exhibit more positive emotions towards the brand after attending an event. So, to keep your customers loyal, invite them to an exclusive experience, such as a new collection launch. 
98% of customers attending events share content on social media. This means that your loyal members can become brand advocates and increase your visibility on social media. Over time, this will help attract new customers.  

Leveraging exclusivity and aspiration – key takeaways 

74% of customers become loyal to a brand if they have a goal to work towards: Design a tiered loyalty program that encourages your customers to repeat purchase while making them feel special 
79% say that they will engage with a loyalty program if they receive financial incentives: Encourage your customers to repeat purchase and spend more by offering them discounts and gifts 
66% are looking for experience-based rewards: Strengthen your customer relationships by providing access to exclusive events or product launches 


This research was conducted by LoyaltyLion and Censuswide, with 2,004 UK & US nationally representative consumers aged 16+ between 30.08.19 – 04.09.19.  

Censuswide abides by and employs members of the Market Research Society which are based on the ESOMAR principles. 

For more information and insight into this topic, read our full report.

About the author

Mollie Woolnough-Rai

Mollie is a Senior Content Marketing Executive at LoyaltyLion. After graduating from UCL in 2016, she has worked both in-house and at marketing agencies providing expertise in content for both B2B and B2C clients. At LoyaltyLion, Mollie manages our content, making sure our readers get the best quality resources about customer loyalty and retention.

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