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Loyalty Live: A Talon.One Q&A on Customer Loyalty and Engagement During the Holiday Shopping Season 



Faced with economic uncertainty and rising costs, retailers are laser-focused on profitability this holiday season. The immediate challenge for brands is preserving their margins while stimulating demand at a time when consumers are looking for bargains. These seem like opposing goals, but not to the marketing strategists at Talon.One.

Talon.One powers the loyalty programs behind some of the world’s most recognized brands. The company develops data-driven promotions and experiences that foster deep brand loyalty and increase customer lifetime value. Brands rely on Talon.One to help them attract shoppers, especially during the holiday season, and turn them into loyal customers. 

With the shopping season in full swing, Loyalty360 spoke with Sam Panzer, Director of Industry Strategy at Talon.One, about this season’s trends in customer loyalty, how to enhance the holiday shopping experience, and how to position loyalty programs for success in the new year.    


Can you tell us a little bit about yourself, your current role with Talon.One, and your background?  

Panzer: I lead our business value practice, and we help clients understand the commercial impact of offering new experiences and rewards to customers. We’re focused on determining ROI for proposed changes and initiatives. We work with global brands like Adidas, Eddie Bauer, River Island, Bilt Rewards, Live Nation, and Ticketmaster.  

For those who may not be familiar with how Talon.One supports customer loyalty efforts, can you give us a brief overview of what Talon.One does for brands and how you do it?  

Panzer: Talon.One is a loyalty and promotion engine. We build incentive programs for our clients based on sales data and knowledge of the brands’ customers, helping them move away from mass one-size-fits-all discounts to more tailored incentives. We support clients looking to establish program features such as member pricing, personalized offers, exclusive experiences, and reward thresholds. We also advise clients on how and when to communicate program benefits to members.  

The holiday season is top of mind for most marketers this time of year. What are the latest trends in customer loyalty and rewards programs for the holiday season?   

Panzer: In the retail industry especially, the focus is on profitability. Brands must balance preserving profitably with the need to offer consumers real value. This year, they’re reserving their best promotional offers for loyalty members. Brands are more comfortable with giveaways and discounts inside loyalty programs because they have an established relationship with the customers. Maintaining long-term loyalty is worth the investment in such promotions.  

For example, Target featured 16 different offers on its homepage on Black Friday. Four of the offers were exclusive to the Target CircleTM rewards program. When customers clicked one of the offers, they were invited to join the program.  

Loyalty programs can also curb the need for discounting, even for members, by delivering other types of benefits. Customers value perks like special experiences and personalized offers, which cultivate loyalty without discounts.  

What are some creative ways to engage and reward shoppers beyond the traditional points-based system during the holidays?  

Panzer: Brands must offer benefits that have a higher perceived value to the customer than the actual cost to the company. Airlines do this by allowing loyalty members to take empty first-class seats. In the retail sector, brands can offer early access to in-demand merchandise. The goal is to offer rewards that drive positive results for the business that are also meaningful to the customer.  

Brands should also consider partnering on joint offers. Even seemingly unrelated brands often market to the same customer persona. Members appreciate the ability to link earnings and rewards between the brands they value most. The holiday shopping season is the perfect time to tap into this inter-brand affinity.  

How are some brands incorporating corporate social responsibility (CSR) or rewards tied to charitable contributions during the holidays?  

Panzer: The clothing brand Pangaia gave customers the opportunity to “give back” while benefiting on Black Friday. Customers earned 25% off their order by donating $10 to one of four environmental charities selected by the company. The promotion was fully consistent with the brand and its values.  

Consumer research shows that sustainability and ethical considerations factor into purchasing decisions. By communicating their CSR goals and activities to program members, brands can foster a shared sense of purpose. Customers are more likely to remain loyal to brands that share their values.  



Personalization is always vital. How can brands “up their game” during the holiday shopping season to make interactions with the brand truly memorable?  

Panzer: Personalization requires an evolutionary approach. Brands must piece together bits of customer data to arrive at personalization. We continuously refine customer data to make personalization deeper and more dynamic. During the holiday season, brands should send personalized offers to customers who regularly purchase gifts. Finding the perfect gift for a loved one is especially important to these shoppers, and brands can actively support their gifting journey.   

How can brands leverage technology to enhance holiday loyalty programs?      

Panzer: Brands can take a data-first approach to bundling items into personalized holiday offers. For example, a retailer can use inventory and cost data to determine cost-efficient merchandise combinations and then offer them to members based on their known preferences and buying habits.  

Many of our clients host virtual events around the holidays with streaming videos and live content. These events enliven the customer experience and foster brand affinity.  

How can businesses retain customers beyond the holiday season?  

Panzer: Brands should use their loyalty programs to deliver their most interesting and appealing offers in the coming year. Customers gained during the fourth quarter of the year tend to have higher lifetime value than those gained at other times. Exclusive loyalty offers can help brands retain these customers throughout the next year — and beyond.   

For more insights and strategies from Talon.One, download the new report Loyalty Strategies for 2024.   

Quick-fire Questions: 

What is your favorite word?  

A 32-character German word on a Christmas card I received.  

What is your least favorite word?  


What excites you? 

Meeting with friends and family over good food.  

What do you find tiresome?  

Not taking action.  

What is your favorite place to shop for the holidays? 

Red Wing Shoes.  

What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? 


What profession would you avoid?  

Chef again, because I know how unsustainable it is.  

Who inspired you to become the person you are today? 

My grandfather.  

What do you typically think about at the end of the day? 

How much sleep I’m going to get.   

How do you want to be remembered by your friends and family? 

As someone who created good memories involving food.  


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