BLU Loyalty build bespoke customer loyalty, customer engagement and customer relationship solutions to enable businesses to better connect and engage with their customers. Award winning CEO, Tony Gougassian shares his personal experience, the evolution of this innovative organisation and its vision.
In recent years, retail brands, major corporates and banking organisations have started to consider the benefits of encouraging and rewarding customer loyalty within their marketing strategies.
Loyalty programmes have a proven major impact on customer retention. Research shows that customers who sign up to a loyalty scheme are twice as likely to use those products or services. In today’s financial climate, acquiring new customers is both costly and time consuming. Dedicated loyalty programmes not only enable organisations to invest in their customer base, retaining and incentivising loyal consumers, but also provides data on trends, purchasing habits and the ability to tailor products and services to meet demands.
Established in 2013, and based in Dubai, UAE, BLU Loyalty are an example of a successful customer loyalty and customer engagement solutions provider offering end-to-end comprehensive range of loyalty programmes. Here, Tony Gougassian, CEO, shares how his expertise in working within the electronic payments industry eventually led to the formation and growth of BLU Loyalty, together with his vision for progression within the sector.
To begin with, Tony, could you give us a bit of background to your career journey, your experience within the sector and the need for loyalty or reward programmes?
Prior to setting up BLU Loyalty, I had worked for Visa in Dubai for nearly 10 years looking after a number of markets within the Gulf and Middle Eastern countries.
My experience in loyalty stemmed originally from working within the electronic payments industry – more commonly known as the credit cards industry. Most credit card programmes issued by financial institutions – specifically commercial banks issuing credit cards, needed to attach some form of a rewards programme to the value proposition of their cards. These varied from standard cashback to generic points-based programmes to more specialist types of co-branded cards like Frequent Flyer Miles and large retailers’ points-based cards.
At that time, banks issuing credit cards needed to add a rewards programme feature as part of the list of benefits offered with their cards in order to compete effectively in the highly competitive credit cards market – or simply in order not to become completely irrelevant. Consumers were becoming so keen on earning rewards with their purchases, credit cards issuers who failed to offer these incentives were overlooked. With increasing competition, the issuers needed to continue finding attractive methods of valuing loyalty and rewarding consumers for using their cards via retailers. In time, this drive for market share led to such generous rewards programmes being offered that only the larger providers were able to operate them profitably.
So the BLU Loyalty concept effectively bridged that gap, meeting the needs of card issuers, large and small?
Yes, the BLU Loyalty offering started with a simple concept of providing competitive ‘plug and play’ loyalty programme solution with a comprehensive range of features.
To be more specific, the approach was to offer an end-to-end customer loyalty solution that would include not only the technology applications like the backend loyalty management system, customer loyalty portal and customer loyalty mobile application, but also all the related content to complement the loyalty value proposition. This content included an online merchandise catalogue, vouchers, gift cards, flights bookings, hotel bookings, car rentals, donations, cashback, miles conversion and more – all as readily-available redemption options. That meant that card issuers such as banks needed only to sign on the dotted line to get a fully-managed and comprehensive loyalty programme up and running in no time.
Moving on, the BLU Loyalty schemes now attract a far wider target market. Could you tell us how your services have evolved?
Since its inception in 2013, the BLU Loyalty offering has now been extended to a wide variety of businesses across many sectors of industry. It soon became clear to us that our plug and play programme would be beneficial to not only credit card issuers, but also for all businesses wishing to leverage insightful data on consumer trends. In short, the loyalty programme has become the primary tool to use in the new digital age for both customer data collection and consumer engagement.
Digital technology has indeed disrupted traditional ways of working. Could you elaborate on the value of digital data collection and itemise BLU Loyalty’s offering?
The digital era – through social media, digital communication, online marketing and retailing – has paved the way for organisations to gather vital insights on consumer trends. Analytical data is now able to highlight crucial economic statistics – repeat customer rates, frequency of purchases, etc, and determine the efficiency of loyalty programmes on sales. In turn, targeted loyalty programmes give customers more of an emotional connection, an incentive, and a feeling of being valued.
BLU Loyalty realise the potential impact of dedicated managed loyalty programmes, and have evolved to complement the requirements of our extensive customer base. Today we operate in six markets within the Middle East are looking to soon expand into Africa, India and Turkey, with an increasing array of programmes and services – including customer analytics, gamification, automated marketing, customer interaction and engagement tools, a fully-managed redemption marketplace, a comprehensive points-exchange platform, digital experiences and many more.
You’ve mentioned a vision for future expansion. Could you outline any further objectives for BLU Loyalty in the near future?
It’s important to understand, value and respond to a market which is far from static. Incomes, lifestyle and behavioural consumer trends will always affect purchasing habits, and our overall proposition must reflect this and be accessible to an even wider audience. We’re looking at building more sophisticated tools to enable organisations to get closer to their customers, understand their preferences and the influence behind their purchasing decisions.
In addition to helping businesses gain greater insight into their customers, we aim to provide them with tools to simply and optimise communication, interaction and engagement. Our overall mission is for our platform and programmes to become an integral marketing and communication facility, which with the assistance of AI and machine learning, can produce these vital consumer insights not only in the shortest time possible, but a most cost effective rate.
In this way BLU Loyalty seeks to automate the marketing activities of our clients, thereby substantially increasing their efficacy and efficiency.
BLU Loyalty specialise in loyalty programmes, customer engagement solutions and analytics. For further information on its engagement platform, end to end loyalty programmes, apps and full range of support given, please visit https://bluloyalty.com