Alternative Currencies Shaping Up Modern Loyalty

January 22, 2021

Alternative rewards that you could explore for your own brand that provide a more intense path to achieving lasting, enduring customer loyalty.

Cash, points, discounts, and rebates earned their spot for being some of the most effective rewards ever for good reason. People are drawn to them because they’re, well, awesome incentives and companies love them because they work. But the changing market brings with it a rising preference for non-monetary rewards that are and could be more valuable to customers. We call these “alternative currencies”. 

Traditional currencies are anything that covers an obvious, financial benefit. These could be cash rebates, discounts, store credits, and so on. We’d bet that the majority of loyalty programs you’re signed up in use traditional currencies. 

However successful, a recent study by Bond Brand Loyalty says that the “earn-and-burn elements" of rewards make up only one third of what actually drives customers’ satisfaction with a loyalty program. While monetary benefits are still important, alternative currencies deliver something beyond. They address the sometimes more “abstract” needs of the consumers or the necessities that stroke customers’ deeper level longings.  


Types of alternative currencies to check out 

When reformatting your incentives and introducing alternative currencies to your system, it’s imperative to prioritise user needs. That is and will remain the most important part of any loyalty programs. A loyalty scheme is only as good as its relevance to your users. Those who don’t listen to their customers are shooting arrows in the dark. So, when designing your alternative rewards, think about what best fits your users and what valuable incentives you can trade for their enduring allegiance. Once you’ve got these, it becomes easier to experiment with formats and settle on something that entices your users and inspires their continued support. 

Experts would say digital economies can perfectly dispense these alternative incentives because we have more room for creativity. We have more room to roam the recesses of our imagination and offer value to consumers where it hits them the most without being shot down for their “boldness”. 

When you operate in a creative platform, you get more freedom to offer more “abstract” rewards or rewards that don't automatically have any financial counterpart. So, here are some interesting alternative rewards you could explore for your own brand.  


Free shipping 

One of the most common but also probably the easiest alternative reward you can offer your members is free shipping. Perfect especially for ecommerce retailers, free shipping options take a load off of your customers’ backs. It’s proven to be one of the easiest ways to entice buyers as a free shipping benefit offers great shopping convenience to your customers. And get this—9 out of 10 consumers choose “free shipping” as their preferred incentive to shopping online! 


Exclusive, curated content 

Ego’s one of the primary motivations of loyalty members. They want in on exclusive, never before seen content. The opportunity to know more about your product is something they’d surely appreciate. Exclusive content gives them an insider perspective on new product releases, updates, guides, webinars, and eBooks. Usually, the content can even sometimes be shared, allowing you to reach your members’ connections and encourage these people to check you out. Finally, the more they get to know you, the bigger possibility there is of them connecting—on a much deeper plane—with your brand.  


Event passes 

Event passes are a great loyalty tool on their own. Inviting loyal customers to your events is a way of making them feel part of an exclusive group. Here they get to experience your brand firsthand and you get to increase brand awareness and raise product knowledge. These event launches keep members not only invested but also make them feel special, which leads to continued support for your brand. 



Another thing that customers appreciate is knowing that their money would go a long way after they’ve spent it. A donation on their name gives customers a sense of fulfillment and sense of moral accomplishment. Do remember, however, to know exactly what causes would resonate with your members the most so they’d feel more inclined to donate.  


So... out with the old, in with the new? Well, not really. 

And while this article chooses to focus on modern, alternative currencies, we are in no way encouraging you to forget about the good ol’ traditional incentives. There’s a reason they’ve worked for as long as they did and why it’s still effective to this day. 

Not only do alternative rewards hit your customers where they find it relevant but it’s also a way to separate yourself from the swarming cesspool of brands who offer the same things.  It’s a way to set yourself apart and to offer rewards that reduce program costs but nonetheless double user engagement; rewards that excite your customers.