Q&A: How to Build Loyalty with Value-Conscious Shoppers

Recently, Prem Patel, VP, managing director of Catalina UK, shared his views on the evolving value of loyalty on the CEO Soapbox podcast with Hadie Perkas, founder of The Gift Club. Following are excerpts of their conversation.

Q: You've worked in the loyalty space for a long time. What’s changed the most?
Loyalty has been around for the last 150 years, and the concept remains the same. You reward a customer for a certain behavior. What's changed in the last 10 years is the way loyalty rewards are delivered—from plastic cards to mobile apps—which creates a faster pace for shopper recognition and reward delivery. This creates an opportunity to surprise and delight the customer, which is a fundamental change from their point of view.

What impact has the pandemic had on customer loyalty?
COVID-19 has changed a lot of customer behavior. Nobody wants to wait now for a whole year to collect their points. Consumers want to use rewards immediately, on the next purchase. We’ve moved far past the days when we were excited to open our mailed credit card statements to learn how many points we’ve collected that month.

Savvy, loyal customers have begun to challenge the value of those points, haven’t they?
Most people don’t know the value of their points. Those who do have begun to calculate what they spend and the value of the small item that they earn for them. That puts a lot of pressure onto brands and retailers to up their game in terms of those rewards and their value.

Catalina will soon be celebrating its 40th anniversary. How has the company continued to be innovative in the evolving retail environment?
Our story started back in 1983, when the founders were on Catalina Island in California. They sketched out a simple concept of delivering rewards to shoppers when they're at retail. And then they built the business from there. Built on that foundation, today’s Catalina really understands shopper behavior. Our ecosystem allows for real-time insights and real-time actions to take place by thoroughly analyzing shopper behavior. Over the years we've evolved from in-store into the digital space, whether it's mobile or e-commerce.

With Catalina having been recognized as one of the UK’s best workplaces for women in 2022, what’s your value proposition for future female leaders?
We have a relentless focus on diversity, equality, and inclusion. I'm a firm believer that if you have multicultural, diverse teams, you get the best ideas, the best knowledge, the best brains, and you attract the best talent. To retain the top women in the field, we have a clear talent development plan and recognition path with tailored, bespoke training by capability.