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6 Channel Loyalty Trends in 2023

Dec 28, 2022

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6 Channel Loyalty Marketing Trends to Look Out For in 2023

For all sales and trade marketing leaders, 2022 has been a difficult year to sail through with uncertain end-customers sentiments and channel partners making their way back to markets saying adieu due to the never-ending pandemic situation.  Looking ahead to 2023, things are moving at the speed of light. Markets have opened like COVID-19 never happened, pent-up demand got settled in the wink of an eye and channel partners are thriving again. BI WORLDWIDE, as a global leader and India’s foremost in delivering tech-enabled loyalty and engagement solutions, takes a look at the channel loyalty marketing trends for 2023 that will shape up business results for trade marketing brands.

Trend #1 – Analytics-led Engagement to Boost Sales

Trend #2 – The Rise of Channel Sales Influencers

Trend #3 – Make it Big with Middle Sales Performers

Trend #4 – Enable the Sales Channel with Learning

Trend #5 – Make Every Moment Count with Rewarding Experiences

Trend #6 – Make Digital Integral to Channel Partner Engagement

Trend #1 - Analytics-led Engagement to Boost Sales

Analytics has always been the backbone to loyalty and engagement programs. What has changed over a period is how brands are leveraging the insights for enhancing the overall channel partner engagement resulting in incremental sales growth and better cost efficiency. This trend will continue and is going to get meaner and leaner with big data, predictive, prescriptive, social and other advanced analytics to further optimise the channel partner and brand relationship with partner retention, sales, promotions, churn, engagement, and rewards personalisation. Advanced data analytics will be leveraged using statistical algorithms and predictive models to find out unexplored correlations, hidden patterns, and key preferences. These insights will help brands develop targeted and customised campaigns; as opposed to a one size fits all transactional approach, which doesn’t garner the desired response from channel partners. This certainly helps build more direct and meaningful relationships with channel partners, and brands will accordingly benefit from leveraging their channel partner data more extensively.

Trend #2 - The rise of channel sales influencers

Influencers – such as masons, mechanics, electrician, painters, carpenters, small business shops, architects, etc., – the last leg in the trade channel distribution network, are giving an edge to brands in the market to deepen their overall reach with end-customers and lifting the brand experience with them. Trade sales and marketing leaders are actively engaging influencers for driving last mile sales and collecting a lot of behavioural and transactional insights to optimise their supply chain, product innovation, and overall customer value proposition in the market. This trend is gaining a lot of traction with brands, and influencers are becoming an integral part of the trade channel distribution network. BI WORLDWIDE, with its channel engagement platform – Channel Smart, has gained a lot of insights while managing end to end influencer engagement programs for many Indian and global trade organisations. These influencers play a very strong role in driving end customer behaviour and therefore it’s imperative that they are highly engaged, knowledgeable and loyal to the brand, in turn driving higher market share.

Trend #3 - Make it Big with Middle Sales Performers

In 2023, trade sales and marketing leaders should pay attention to middle sales performers to make it big. The fact remains that the 80/20 rule ends up as a reality even when looking at performance level across various sales channels. Brands usually end up taking care of either the top 20% performers or the bottom 20%. That leaves the middle layer, roughly 60% of the channel partner base, overlooked and under-incentivised to perform better. There is merit in paying closer attention on curating the right kind of incentive structure for the middle layer – they can be moved to perform better and contribute to increasing sales incrementally. This concept is popularly known as “moving the middle” where the approach is to focus effort on getting the middle tier of the channel partners to perform incrementally better than they currently do. There are scientific principles and proven rules that can applied to move the middle layer to drive performance. When more than half the channel partner base performs even only slightly better, it can boost overall sales numbers substantially, as there is strength in numbers. By moving the middle, brands can effectively move the whole base towards incremental growth.

Trend #4 - Enable the Sales Channel with Learning

Channel partners are usually busy sorting out their daily business challenges. They are over-exposed with information coming to them from every corner, which they ignore and prefer to catch up on during their teatime. To keep channel partners engaged, it’s important to show them that the brand is invested in their overall growth beyond achieving sales targets. BI WORLDWIDE’s research based “know, feel, do” model, where the goal of the learning modules is to transform what channel partners know, how they feel, and what they do. Brands should bear in mind to keep the content used in any kind of learning program to be immersive, creative, and highly interactive in order to bring about this transformation in channel partners. Formats in which training is delivered should also be flexible (including video, text, learning games, and simulations) and easily accessible on all kinds of devices (phones, laptops, and tablets). Social media can also be tapped as an important medium to promote informal and supplementary learning alongside long-form training modules. Brands should consider investing in enabling channel partners with insightful learning by integrating learning platforms and apps over the course of the program.

Trend #5 - Make Every Moment Count with Rewarding Experiences

Experiences are powerful motivators. This one trend is going to take channel partners and brands association to next level of engagement. Research repeatedly shows that experiential rewards inspire stronger engagement and lasting impact – for both the person earning the reward and everyone else who watches it happen. Sociability comes along with non-cash experiential rewards which drive a greater behavioural impact that goes beyond the channel partners into their family members also getting involved with the overall rewards experience – short vacation, getting a new car, sponsoring a child’s education, or even health care rewards. Cash is purely transactional with no re-consumption factor. BI WORLDWIDE enables brands to curate a rewards catalogue that features travel and luxury rewards and experiences that are high on the sociability quotient, which eventually leads to fulfilling channel partners’ aspirational needs. This has greater potential to encourage and motivate them to perform better and build a long-term and meaningful relationship with the brand, ultimately resulting in enhanced loyalty and brand advocacy from such channel partners.

Trend #6 - Make Digital Integral to Channel Partner Engagement

From onboarding channel partners to engaging them on daily basis to communicating with them across media channels to recognising them for achieving targets to enabling with new training – integrated digital ecosystems are making their way to drive channel partner engagement. As trade sales and marketing leaders, integrating digital platforms and systems to enhance loyalty and engagement experience for the channel partners should be your utmost priority. The digital revolution has allowed an ever-increasing number of people access to affordable smartphones and internet services, and consequently, many of them spend a significant portion of their time on social media and messenger apps such as Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram. Brands and channel partners are no different; and both are riding this digital transformation wave by using mobile apps to better connect, communicate and manage operation of and participation in channel partner programs to enhance engagement levels and business results. BI WORLDWIDE regularly invests in channel research to understand the communication preferences of channel partners and develop digital products and mobile apps which are accessible on-the-go on for channel partners, as it’s easier for them to participate more actively and regularly in the program, thereby driving engagement and brand recall, and in turn, sales, and profits.

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