When Vans set out to create a loyalty program, it focused on people and experience instead of the popular points-from-purchase framework. True to the 50+-year-old brand’s core identity, it got creative and built an original offering on Cheetah Digital’s Loyalty platform that has resulted in over 12 million members in two years and helps them better understand the impact of their loyalty efforts on direct-to-consumer revenue.
Challenges and Objectives
When Paul Van Doren started the Vans shoe company in 1966, it was selling direct to consumer out of a storefront attached to the factory. Getting to know their customers was rather easy.; today, the brand is a cult classic touching people of all ages who identify with an unlimited range of passions all across the globe. Scaling the learning process of what those individual customers want and need was the challenge for their loyalty strategy, but also being able to directly communicate with millions of customers on a one-to-one level was the capability needed to drive success. Vans wanted a personalized experience for their customers, plain and simple.
Rather than accumulating points from their purchases, members are encouraged to take actions that drive their reward balance. The interactive and experiential nature of the program allows people to express themselves through their passions and build points that are not redeemable for discounts or free shoes but rather for access to personalized experiences or limited-run exclusive products.
Cheetah Digital’s platform allows Vans to create this agile offering that keeps customers engaged with the brand between revenue events. A customer can complete simple tasks such as sharing their favorite shoe type, enrolling in sweepstakes, watching a video, or even nominating their local skate shop for a small-business initiative. This information is stored at an individual level so Vans can personalize more offers and experiences, driving engagement even higher.
In a recent interview with Frank Neumann, Senior Director of Consumer Lifecycle Management at Vans, Cheetah Digital was able to share some of the fantastic results. Since its launch in 2018, the Vans Family loyalty program has amassed over 12 million members. Neumann admits this was a pleasant surprise, and it is only assumed these membership numbers are growing with time.
As far as engagement, Neumann also revealed that the satisfaction metrics with members in the program are beating industry averages, a clear indicator that the focus on experiences over points-from-purchase is a differentiator and resonating with the audience. Members can even collect points in their Vans Family app for sharing how the program could be improved. Listening to the consumer is inherently baked into Vans’ strategy.
When it comes to revenue, Vans enjoys a healthy direct-to-consumer channel that its customers seem to love. Vans reported that almost half of their direct-to-consumer business from owned stores and e-commerce in North America is derived from loyalty members. Additionally, they’ve identified that loyalty members spend ‘significantly more’ revenue than non-members.
The Future of Vans Loyalty
Vans has identified a few areas of focus in order to grow its successful foundation.
“The whole retail industry is already evolving from earn and burn to experiential loyalty, and this will accelerate,” Neumann says. “Vans will undergo a global expansion to connect with the wealth of global fans.”
The program aims to expand interactive member experiences to deliver better, next-generation personalization. The more Vans learns about its members, the more tailored content and experiences it will be able to deliver.
Neumann also notes that COVID-19 has greatly impacted the need for digital acceleration among brick-and-mortar brands. It is expected to see these entities ramp up their digital footprint giving consumers more touchpoints to interact with their favorite brands. Experiences, personalization, and engagement beyond a revenue transaction will be the differentiator for brands that want to drive more revenue for their consumer base.
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