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We discussed consumer loyalty with Roberto Muñoz, Head of Travel at Puntos Colombia. In this insightful interview, Muñoz shares ideas and learnings about loyalty programs.

 

By guest contributor Alejandra Velazquez

 

Consumer Loyalty: Can’t Buy Me Love

Customer Loyalty Reward Programs have become a necessity in this fast-paced world of marketing. Thanks to e-commerce, consumers have a thousand different choices at arm’s length, each claiming to be better than any. But the only way for consumers to marry your brand is by offering them something greater. Something beyond just added value, more significant than the menial transaction of purchasing a product. A prize for choosing well.

Roberto Muñoz knows how to keep consumers engaged and coming back. He is the former strategist for Club Premier, Aeromexico’s loyalty program. It was so successful it became a company of its own. Today he’s the Head of Travel and Banks for Puntos Colombia, an ambitious nationwide implementation whose motto is granting you points “for living.” It’s an alliance of dozens of restaurants, banks, gas stations, clothing and apparel stores, and lifestyle companies.

PC effectively lets users accumulate benefits by purchasing virtually anything with either an affiliated card, or any card at the right place. Joining takes a simple online registration, and the points are redeemable as cash. Simply put, it’s a powerhouse venture, with the power to engage and captivate an entire country. “Getting benefits and rewards for everyday activities is the single most important thing to unify frequent customers with newcomers and infrequent users,” says Muñoz.  In this article, he shares a few of his insights and experience with Portada.

Getting benefits and rewards for everyday activities is the single most important thing to unify frequent consumers with newcomers and infrequent users.

From Frequent Flyers to Frequent Buyers: How to Make Consumer Loyalty Programs More Inclusive 

One of the barriers of loyalty programs is that people often consider them to be an elite benefit for privileged customers. They come off as unattainable. Consumers feel like they’ll need to travel once a week in exchange for a free local flight. The benefits seem like they might be a long way down the road, and not worth working for. So Roberto Muñoz had to figure out a way of making all consumers know not only seasoned millionaires get rewards. “Loyalty programs such as Club Premier used to be focused on elite 40-50 y.o. consumers with spending power,” says Muñoz. “The type design was a fancy-looking cursive and everything was designed to look exclusive. However, the younger audiences never felt a connection with the brand. They felt like the program was not meant for them. We had to develop a rebranding without losing the elite feeling but inclusive for lower-profile, younger audiences.”

customer loyalty expertFor Club Premier, the key was rewarding not only frequent flyers, but also frequent buyers. Muñoz explains: “We thought, how do we incorporate a travel rewards program into people’s daily lives? By offering them a very accessible credit card without minimum balance or positive credit history requirements. Users get points every time they purchase anything with it. With that execution, we went over 300% card affiliations and incorporated many new clients into the airline.” But it’s not just about the card, it’s also about the places willing to offer something in return. Just like Puntos Colombia and its partnerships, it’s important to find the right allies for your program. For example, bookstore Gandhi is one of Club Premier’s greatest allies, offering premier points just by purchasing books.

Latam: The Market of Immediate Rewards 

Puntos Colombia offers points you can use as cash, just like BBVA does with its credit cards. Many users redeem their benefits just as soon as they’ve gathered enough to purchase anything. But why won’t people wait until they have enough points for something much bigger? The answer lies in the cultural differences between the U.S. and Latin American markets. Muñoz explains: “We’ve done much research on the subject of savings culture. The U.S. market is really mature in terms of loyalty. Customers are very aware that the goal is traveling for free by accumulating miles. They see the big picture and understand the value of saving. However, the Latam market doesn’t share the same mindset. They want to know what prize or reward they’ll be getting, and they want it immediately, by tomorrow.”

The U.S. market is really mature in terms of loyalty. […] However, the Latam market doesn’t share the same mindset. They want to know what reward they’ll be getting, and they want it immediately.

According to Roberto Muñoz, when people get as little as 200 points, they immediately try to use them on a quick run to the convenience store. Once again, this responds to the fact that the Colombian market is—or was—used to seeing consumer loyalty benefits as something unattainable. They’re not used to the rush of receiving incentives. So, they become eager to spend whatever they get, whenever they get it. “In Puntos Colombia, I learned the Colombian market doesn’t even know banks and retail stores also have loyalty programs, they think it’s just for airlines,” says Muñoz. Only time and effective implementation can contribute to getting consumers more used to the exchange of benefits.

Experiences: The Future of Consumer Loyalty Rewards

Not everything is about points for cash or free flights. On the other side of the Latam coin, mature markets have become jaded. High-profile consumers with spending power have little or nothing to gain from a the occasional freebie. So, what do you offer someone who has everything? Many consumers have been earning and accumulating rewards for decades. Is there room for innovation? Muñoz comments: “We discovered many clients had a common issue: they had too many points and didn’t know what to do with them anymore. It’s like “I travel so much, I couldn’t travel any more”. So we started offering them something they didn’t have: exciting new experiences.” According to Roberto Muñoz, offering experiences as rewards is a very underdeveloped area of consumer loyalty programs. The field is ripe for exploration.

Muñoz developed some of the first experiences for Club Premier some years ago. “We planned an exclusive trip to Vegas in a private jet for clients. There was an Elvis impersonator and karaoke on board. They had a limo waiting for them at the airport with Moët and other drinks. There was a special welcome dinner at the hotel. High-profile customers look for differentiating experiences, and this really added value for them and the program.”

We started offering them something they didn’t have: exciting new experiences.

But are experiences limited to high-end consumers, or can regular users also participate for fewer points? Is there a way to include and rank users at the same time? Now there is. “At the beginning, they were focused on a very, very exclusive target,” comments Muñoz. “Now they’re more massive. I classify experiences into micro and macro. Users can exchange fewer points for a day at the spa, or dinner planned especially for them by a chef.”

 

Roberto Muñoz’s Best and Not-so-Great Loyalty Strategies 

Like in anyone’s career, not everything has been smooth sailing for Roberto Muñoz. Here are a couple examples of his most and least successful strategies. It’s always good to remember the greatest learnings come from seemingly terrible mistakes. In Roberto’s words:

Our most successful strategy has been letting users complete their points with actual money. It’s one of the best new options on the market. That way, customers don’t have to wait until they accumulate all necessary points for the reward, they can just pay the difference in cash. Maybe you only have half the points and you can pay to complete the other half and collect the reward.”

And the least successful?

Our least successful strategy has been trying to push the wrong routes onto the wrong target. We released “fly to Europa” campaigns because it was aspirational and exciting. But many customers that didn’t fit the profile to go to Europe also received the ads and the effect was very negative. We had comments like, “how can you people offer me a trip to Europa if you gave me a credit card with a 5,000 pesos limit?”. It was one of our worst moments. We learned so much about segmentation strategies and cross-marketing with the bank. They should’ve let us know whose profile wasn’t right for the offer. This was about two years ago.”

Roberto Munoz, Head of Travel at Puntos Colombia, will be one of the dozens of brand marketing innovators present at Portada Miami on June 4, 2020. If you are interested in participating in Portada Miami and/or in Portada’s networking and knowledge-sharing platform with brand marketers please contact us here.

GDQ was January’s most-watched e-sports tournament. A look at the streaming figures also reveals that longer airtime does not always mean fans will spend more hours watching. We are introducing this monthly esports data column to provide a quick update of the most important esports consumption behavior, particularly as is relates to streaming. 

For prior esports updates, click here.

Ranking: Last Month’s Most Popular Esports Tournaments

esports airtime
Foto via @gamesdonequick

In January, Orlando was home to the global Awesome Games Done Quick (GDQ) 2020 tournament, a semiannual video game speed run charity marathon held in the United States. Held since 2010, this year’s tournament raised US $3.16 million, according to data provided by StreamHatchet. This represents a new  donation record for a GDQ event.

But GDQ is not only popular for raising big amounts of money, it also was January’s most-watched e-sports tournament. The event reached 38.4 million views through streaming platforms. This is more than double the views Method – Race to World First: Ny’alotha Event reached, which came in second place in this month’s ranking in terms of views. The next GDQ tournament will be played at the end of June, in Bloomington, Minnesota.

Also relevant in this month’s data is the fact that time played does not necessarily translate into hours watched. Method – Race to World First: Ny’alotha Event was the longest tournament, by far, with 5,498 minutes. GDQ went on for only 989 minutes. Race to World First: Ny’alotha Event reached 12.375 thousand hours watched, while GDQ almost doubled it with 22.095 thousand hours watched.

DateTournamentPrize PoolHours Watched*Peak CCV**AVG CCV***ViewsAirtime
Jan 4th 20
Jan 4th 20
Awesome Games Done Quick 202022,095,216261,042119,44838,421,190989:0
Jan 18th 20
Jan 26th 20
DreamLeague Season 13: The Leipzig Major$1,000,00012,896,190316,783133,59714,204,743614:0
Jan 28th 20
Feb 8th 20
Method – Race to World First: Ny’alotha Event12,375,006105,31246,03117,633,6505,498:0
Jan 24th 20
Mar 21st 20
LEC 2020 Spring Season11,974,014470,138203,59313,493,603468:0
Jan 25th 20
May 25th 20
LCS 2020 Spring Season10,182,510381,637176,2509,931,718264:0

*LIVE HOURS WATCHED: The Total live hours watched for a specific event across all major NA streaming platforms

**PEAK CCV: The Time-dependent maximum concurrent sessions that watching the top moment of the broadcast across multiple streams

***AVG CCV: The Time-dependent average concurrent sessions that watched a broadcast across multiple streams

YouTube Gaming was the clear leader in the esports mobile streaming space in 2019.  Although gamers tend to use highly sophisticated hardware for their training and tournaments, mobile gaming has grown more than any other platform.  In fact, mobile games made up 60% of revenue for the global video game market in 2019 and are expected to grow annually by 2.9% until 2024.  This monthly esports column provides a quick update of the most important esports consumption behavior, particularly as it relates to streaming.

Data provided by StreamHatchet shows that the top 10 mobile esports events of 2019 accumulated over 75 million hours watched.  YouTube Gaming got an overwhelming majority of that viewership. The numbers make sense when comparing them with App Annie’s findings. The mobile market data provider shared in a study that “mobile gaming is on track to surpass $100B across all mobile app stores in 2020.

There are many pocket consoles in the market. Still, mobiles are much more accessible to the grand majority of the global population. In gaming, mobiles have sort of democratized gaming. No wonder Call of Duty: Mobile and Mario Kart Tour launched their mobile version in 2019.

Here are the top ten mobile esports events of 2019:

Overall, the top 10 mobile events of the year accumulated over 75 million hours watched. The data shows that YouTube Gaming had the lead, followed by Facebook Gaming. This finding is particularly relevant, because Twitch is the definite leader in non-mobile esports streaming, with a 78.1% market share (and almost insignificant when it comes to mobile streaming).

In terms of the games themselves, PUBG Mobile is ahead of the game owning 2 of the top 5 events and 3 out of the top 10 in total. Combined, PUBG Mobile generated about 30% of the total hours watched across the top mobile events of 2019.

In March 2019 the D2C site AugustMcGregor was launched as a partnership between Irish UFC champion Conor McGregor and custom clothier David August. The men’s wear label offers modern suits designed to appeal to Millennials who want to follow the fighter’s confident sartorial style. Conor Mc Gregor’s Celebrity Marketing appeal and huge social media following in the MMA area gives the e-commerce site the opportunity to become an online fashion retail juggernaut. We talked to Michael Montanez,  director of marketing at August McGregor, about what moves the sales needle at the site. 

The Purpose  

Make luxury fashion more accessible to a broader audience.

A Product suited for Celebrity Branding

August McGregor (AM) is a 100% DNVB (digitally native vertical brand). “A small offering of premium fight related wear has worked very well with core consumer base who are Connor followers”, says Montanez, who oversees all marketing and operations for the site.  Later AM introduced casual shirts, dress shirts, sweatshirts, joggers and suits.

An ideal Target for Celebrity Marketers

Male Milennial that are making well under US $100,000.   McGregor’s audience is price sensitive.  “For August McGregor, it’s a genuine affinity for all things Conor McGregor, “Montanez notes.

The Site

AugustMcGregor.com
AugustMcGregor.com site

The site is built on BigCommerce. Most of the theme is intact, except for some enhancements/modifications for checkout, UX matters. The site offers alternate checkout methods through PayPal, Apple Pay and Amazon Pay to better accommodate the mobile-first customer base, and the use of global shipping solution EasyShip enables the brand to reach its international demand with ease. On average, the site experiences close to 100k uv/mo. Revenue is growing at a compound monthly growth rate of 24%.

The Following

Connor McGregor has more than 35 million social followers on social media. Just on Instagram,  with more than 33 million followers, McGregor has almost double the number of Instagram fans as the next MMA fighter Khabib Nurmagomodov and nearly eight times the number of third-place Jon Jones. At the end of 2019, the August McGregor site itself (@AugustMcGregor) had the below social follower numbers.
(Facebook; 11,000 , Twitter: 12,000, Instagram 411,000).

Celebrity Marketing, Not Influencer Marketing

Montanez does not really see McGregor as a typical social media influencer because, for him,  Influencer Marketing is more about a wide reach of social influencers activating the brand through various partners. “At AM everything is spearheaded through McGregor and his efforts, there is no intermediary component in the sense of traditional influencer marketing as Conor is the principal player. McGregor is used to drive traffic. Its a tactical deployment of a personality driven brand.

What Moves the Sales Needle?

“We are constantly looking at how to increase our key performance Indicators.  Conversions are improving month over month,” Montanez notes. Through ongoing tests they saw that increased volume sets up a lower price point. “We look at bounce, where exactly the consumer is jumping, how much are they consuming, how much are they converting. We’ve run a number of tests and have a good idea of what drives volume and what’s compelling to the consumer. There’s so much more to explore with CX/UX, but development is costly and in our infancy, we’re having to be responsible with spend and priorities. We notice a slight lag in decision making, but typically the conversion occurs within a week,” McGregor concludes.

Attribution

“At the moment, we track leads and bundle influencer reach with attributed sales from social. We keep tabs on this through Google Analytics  and the backend of the ecommerce platforms,” Montanez notes. “As a fashion brand, Instagram is the primary social channel that drives engagement and conversion. It’s no surprise that it contributes 53% of social revenue and has the lowest bounce rate compared to the other platforms”. Montanez is eager to  up weight Facebook and Youtube in the new year to capitalize on in-channel shopping and video branding respectively.”

. As a fashion brand, Instagram is the primary social channel that drives engagement and conversion. It’s no surprise that it contributes 53% of social revenue and has the lowest bounce rate.

Celebrity Marketing Anchored Mix

“It’s a very modest spend to build the case for increased spending. Right now, it’s more of an organic, slow build. Our digital mix is mostly made up of retargeting, paid, display and email. We’re about to launch new channels like affiliate and Google shopping in Q1. Other than that, we heavily rely on Conor to drive the traffic of his engaged audience and through that effort, we have multiple referral sites that help promote.
Montanez adds that PR will be a big driver for acquisition in 2020. In 2020, AM “will  be increasing its efforts working with younger, rookies in sports – not just MMA, but major sports, i.e. NFL, NBA.” AM will not be  paying for influencer marketing as the cost of merchandise for seeding is expensive, “so we’re working with individuals who genuinely have an interest with the brand and affinity with Conor and his passion.”

For brands who want to connect with Caribbean Hispanics in the U.S., baseball could represent the right platform to start a long-term consumer-brand relationship. Nearly one-third of all major league players are Latinos, including those born in Latin America and within the 50 U.S. states. The Dominican Republic has the highest number of players in the big leagues.

Once upon a time, on May 9, 1871, Estevan Enrique “Steve” Bellán debuted as the first Latin American born individual to play professional baseball in the U.S.A. He played as a third baseman for the Troy Haymakers in New York. About 200 years later, nearly one-third of all major league players are first or second-generation Latinos.

connect with caribbean hispanics
Augusto Romano, CEO at Digo Hispanic Media.

According to the Major League Baseball (MLB), the Dominican Republic has the highest number of international players in the big leagues, with 102 players during Opening Day in 2019. Second in the ranking is Venezuela, with 68 players, and Cuba comes in third with 19 players. “Baseball receives the most attention in Caribbean countries, even more than soccer,” Augusto Romano, CEO at Digo Hispanic Media, tells Portada.

Catering for A Segment’s Needs

First, Digo noticed Caribbean Hispanics are a niche market with particular needs, separate from the general Hispanic market. Then, the U.S Hispanic audience network figured how to reach about five million Puerto Ricans, Cubans, and Dominicans who are concentrated on the east coast of the U.S. However, Romano has a new strategy in mind: “Get to them through baseball!

Get to them through baseball!

Born from the union of the two largest media groups in the Caribbean, GFR Media from Puerto Rico and Grupo Corripio from the Dominican Republic, Digo’s audience has shown a special interest in how Caribbean-born baseball players are developing within MLB. We write stories about the players in a culturally relevant manner, starting with their origins, something the mainstream media doesn’t do. This allows U.S. Hispanic fans to follow players from their country of origin on our premium sites, says Romano. Nevertheless, it seems brands are still missing out on the opportunity.

Individual Promotions

According to Josh Rawitch, Sr. Vice President, Content & Communications for the Arizona Diamondbacks, since last year, the MLB has been working on promoting individual players.This is an important shift in the league’s marketing strategy where traditionally entire teams were promoted.

“The league is smart enough to let these players be who they are,” Rawitch tells Portada. “Therefore we are letting their personalities show a little bit more.”

Most of Arizona Diamondbacks’ fans come from Mexico and Venezuela. However, the team also recognizes the importance of its Caribbean followers. The star, pitcher Yoan Lopez, for example, is from Cuba.

Concerning Puerto Rican players, Esteban Pagán, sports editor at GFR Media, believes that even though Puerto Rico has produced four island born hall of famers, and they have always been very active and noticeable with players in the league, right now there’s a new group of very talented players that are starting to arise. It is a matter of time for us to see more profesional global Puerto Rican players, he explains. “Brands are missing out on opportunities to connect with the U.S.H. audience because these big players are just starting to emerge and are recently being noticed and followed by MLB fans.”

“We are in the exact time in which we can see the potential [of the Caribbean players] in the long run,” Jorge Cabezas, GFR Media, General Manager, adds.

Connecting With Caribbean Hispanics

“The way we try to connect with the Caribbean fan base is first through our social media accounts. They’re being followed by Latinos all over the world, thus we specifically try to highlight our Hispanic players. We have some Cuban players and tons of Venezuelans and Dominicans,” adds Rawitch. “We know when we are sending out messages on social media, we are interacting heavily with fans from the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico.

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The second way the D-Backs are connecting with Caribbean Hispanics is through their local baseball academy in the Dominican Republic. In fact, all 30 major league clubs have baseball academies there, according to Anthony Salazar, chair of the Latino baseball committee.

The way we try to connect with the Caribbean fan base is first through our social media accounts.
Josh Rawitch
Josh Rawitch, Sr. Vice President, Content & Communications at team Arizona Diamondbacks.

“We go down there for graduation every January or February. Moreover, we do a second trip when we do a clinic in the Dominican Republic or we’ll do public appearances,” explains Rawitch.

As a matter of fact, Digo Hispanic Media recently announced their exclusive partnership with NGL Collective, focused on custom content generation.

Their first docuseries named “Las Academias,” explores the beautiful island of the Dominican Republic along with the small towns scouting for talented hopefuls. These athletes each and every day train at one of the 30 major league youth training camps across the island.

“Brands will have access to sponsor these content series via our sales team and we will insert them in the story to ensure their brand and products are showcased in a relevant and engaging manner,” said Aisha Burgos, SVP of Sales & Marketing for Digo Hispanic Media.

Brands’ Approach

It seems that the league and its teams are already reaching out to their Hispanic and Caribbean Hispanic fans. So, what’s happening with brands?

Most brands recognize that outside of soccer, baseball is probably the second most followed sport in Latin America. However, in some countries like Cuba or DR, it is even bigger, believes Rawitch. “Simply, look at the sheer volume of people who are following baseball from the Caribbean. If you’re a company looking to communicate with them, it makes sense to find your way there through a major league team, for instance.”

According to Google Trends, in the past 12 months the words baseball, beisbol and pelota were the most searched the most in countries like the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Panamá & Venezuela. “Baseball runs in our blood. This represents a huge opportunity that brands need to take advantage of,” said Romano.