When Loyalty Programs Aren’t About the Spend

Claire's, retail, loyalty, C.CLUB

Loyalty programs have become a staple in the arsenal of brands and retailers striving to retain their customer base and attract new ones. These programs are seemingly popping up left and right, vying for the attention and allegiance of consumers. 

However, the ones that truly stand out from the crowd are those crafted by brands and retailers who not only listen to their core demographic but take it a step further by allowing their customers to play an active role in designing the loyalty program. This customer-centric approach not only resonates with consumers but is more likely to succeed in building lasting relationships and brand loyalty. 

That’s a sentiment that accessories, jewelry and toys retailer Claire’s took to heart as it looked to relaunch its loyalty program. In an interview with PYMNTS, Chris Duncan, vice president, consumer insights and digital marketing at Claire’s, shared insights into the retailer’s approach and how it aims to establish a meaningful connection with its customers. 

“We designed C.CLUB with and for our consumers. We want our shoppers to know that their opinions are important to us, and that Claire’s will continue to be a place for endless self-expression and meaningful experiences,” Duncan said.  

The company’s decision to enact this change stemmed from its dedication to enriching the value of its benefits program. Its main goal was to help members accumulate rewards more rapidly. Duncan emphasized the significant importance of this initiative for Claire’s, as it not only encourages customer loyalty by enticing them to return and explore new avenues for self-expression, but also provides a constant expression of their profound appreciation for the brand. 

In light of this, Duncan said that Claire’s loyalty program is not to be underestimated. In fact, he suggested that it’s a program worth examining. 

“In the past year we doubled our loyalty program to more than 18 million members, and with its relaunch under the new C.CLUB brand identity, we are taking it to the next level. This is a platform that was built for our community from a dialogue with them, and is a best-in-class example of what a brand can do when they truly put the consumer at the forefront and let them take the lead,” said Duncan. 

The Insights that Inspired the Relaunch

As Claire’s continues its transformation into a global fashion brand, Duncan noted that the retailer has engaged with Gen Z and Gen Alpha to learn their preferences and areas for improvement. Claire’s loyalty program played a significant role in these discussions.  

In contemplating how to enhance the experiences for these age groups, Claire’s also sought input from its existing loyalty members. These discussions encompassed multiple facets, such as program design, reward acquisition and redemption, unique benefits like birthday surprises, and even the visual identity and branding. The result is C.CLUB, a reimagined program inspired by the Claire’s community. 

“Over the past year, we have continued to turn our brand platform over to the voices of Gen Zalpha, our term for Gen Z and Gen Alpha, and our reimagined loyalty program is an extension of these efforts,” Duncan said.

“We want our shoppers to know that their voices are being heard and we will continue to evolve the program based on their feedback. We want to create a program that not only builds brand loyalty but also inspires Gen Zalpha with endless opportunities to express themselves,” he added. 

What Customers Can Expect

Duncan highlighted the significance of elevating the value of its benefits, which facilitate faster accumulation of rewards for members and motivate them to revisit Claire’s, offering them the opportunity to discover new avenues for self-expression.

In this regard, Duncan pointed out, “the new program isn’t based on how much a member spends with Claire’s. Instead, it rewards customers for how often they shop at Claire’s and offers a number of benefits, including free shipping and exclusive access to new products and early access to promotions. 

With this in mind, the revamped C.CLUB loyalty program includes a new brand name and visual identity to emphasize its role as a platform for earning rewards. Upon joining, members gain access to C.CLUB’s perks and rewards, alongside exclusive early access to new product launches and collections through digital and physical experiences. 

Furthermore, Duncan said that a critical aspect of the program is to encourage customer feedback and maintain an ongoing dialogue for continuous improvement and better alignment with their preferences. 

The Effectiveness of Loyalty Programs

A statistic from Ulta Beauty highlighted the advantages of loyalty solutions. In June, Ulta Beauty disclosed to PYMNTS that 95% of its sales are directly attributable to its loyalty program. 

Nicole Bernhardt, head of Ultamate Rewards at Ulta Beautytold PYMNTS that the Ultamate program not only monitors “the pulse of what consumer shifts are happening, but it allows us to engage our consumer in meaningful ways. It allows us to consistently offer value, which is always going to be important to consumers. And it allows us to deliver things that are personalized to them, in terms of their discovery, in terms of their checkout, in terms of their promotions.” 

In this context, Duncan observes that Claire’s is leveraging its data to establish meaningful connections, saying: “We also have a tremendous amount of data about our customers and can personalize our marketing to help drive them into the store when they want to shop.” 

But also, as the holiday season draws near, numerous consumers are preparing for the celebrations, a period often characterized by heightened expenditures. This year also presents a distinctive obstacle: inflation.

Escalating costs for goods and services can add complexity to individuals’ budgeting efforts and their holiday shopping. In this context, loyalty programs prove to be invaluable instruments, not only promoting spending but also providing financial respite. 

In light of this, Claire’s, like many other retailers, is exploring additional strategies to persuade consumers to make their purchases in their stores. Duncan noted that one such approach involves offering a year of complimentary earrings to shoppers who have their piercings done in-store while being members of their loyalty program. 

“The new program was designed to drive frequency, especially in the form of in-store traffic,” Duncan said.