Screen Shot 2015-08-26 at 12.44.31 PMNow that I’ve: 1) defined individualization as the next generation of loyalty and customer engagement and 2) identified the five keys to individualized loyalty, I’d like to explore how a few leading brands are innovating and excelling with individualized loyalty and customer engagement programs.


Born out of a desire to reduce friction and deliver a “touch of magic” to the customer experience, MagicBands are quickly becoming an integral part of Disney vacations.

These RFID-enabled bands are individualized to each guest and eliminate the need for paper tickets, FastPass+… and even a wallet. What’s more, the MagicBand allows Disney to track you through its parks. Imagine the look on your child’s face when Anna and Elsa greet her by name – and know that she saw Mickey and Minnie at breakfast.

Describing their individualized experience, Disney COO Tom Staggs quotes Arthur C. Clarke: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

By reducing friction around which lines to wait in, where to find Disney characters, what to eat, etc., visitors free themselves to experience more of the park. When they do, they create more memories and ultimately, spend more.

This kind of magic shows how well brands can create opportunities for customers to clamor to share their information. As Cliff Kuang of WIRED wrote in his article about MagicBands, “No matter how often we say we’re creeped out by technology, we tend to acclimate quickly if it delivers what we want before we want it.”


Today’s loyalty members are leaving the plastic behind, instead carrying their memberships with them via smartphone. In fact, the 2015 Bond Brand Loyalty Report even goes so far as to call mobile the “strategic high ground in loyalty.” Combining communication, unique ID, analytics tools and a payment vehicle, mobile devices add utility to marketing by providing consumers a link between the offline and online worlds.

This trend prompted Starbucks to transition My Starbucks Rewards members from plastic cards to the Starbucks mobile app. It’s a move that makes infinite sense. After all, most of us have stood in line at Starbucks, and as we waited, what did we have in our hands? Plus, smartphones are certainly a more reliable way of tracking payments than a gift card that’s easily forgotten (or lost).

Starbucks reports that mobile app transactions now account for 16% of total revenue, with 7 million transactions tracked per week, across the 13 million active app users and more than 9 million active My Starbucks Rewards members.

By engaging loyal customers through mobile, Starbucks has embraced the digital experience while still focusing on the in-store “third place” experience. This clear, cohesive emphasis on the customer experience across all channels shows what loyalty can achieve when it’s embedded throughout the connected experience.

If we think about the tens, or hundreds, of times per day consumers interact with different brands, the opportunity for any of them to resonate in a meaningful way may be slight. But what about the apps consumers interact with obsessively (remember Angry Birds, Words With Friends, Candy Crush?) or the websites they visit regularly? Are those interactions wasted? Are you embracing data-driven marketing and all the channels that enable you to connect with your customers?


The Apple Watch provides yet another opportunity to individualize relevance in a truly intimate way. Indicative of a burgeoning new age of connected wearables, the Apple Watch is a highly personalized part of the Internet of Things (IoT), an entire movement focused on making lives better and easier by using insights from data to drive purposeful action.

The IoT is all about seamlessly blending technology, things and people to create meaningful interactions – and those meaningful (data-driven) interactions can lead to loyalty. That’s what American Airlines is doing with its AAdvantage program. When a brand is able to connect directly with known individuals, with real time marketing and a right-time relevant value exchange that’s imperative to how they go about their day, a competing brand never has a chance to disrupt the relationship.

Yes, loyalty and engagement are changing – as all of marketing is. But though the mechanics are evolving, the recipe for success remains the same: Building a relationship with your best customers provides proven results and engaging your customers to propel them forward outpaces acquisition every day of the week. Understanding your customers more deeply as individuals empowers you to create a differentiated customer experience that keeps your best customers coming back.

By embracing real customer obsession, unifying loyalty and engagement and infusing it throughout your customer experience, you clearly communicate the value you offer and deliver a real reason to connect and engage with you, and be loyal now, and in the future.

At Teradata, we believe in the power of marketing AND the power of the individual – and in rising above mere mass personalization to connect with the customer through a truly individualized experience. Loyalty has always been about engaging the individual – and this next evolution in individualized loyalty and engagement will enable marketers to harness that power to retain and grow their most profitable customers.

As COLLOQUY Research Director Jeff Berry pointed out the power of the individual in this year’s census:

“Rather than being classified into a segment, each customer should be seen as a ‘segment of one.’”

The days of grouping customers as “close enough” profiled segments is over.

The future is all about “magically” engaging the loyalty of a segment of one.