How do you lose 110 pounds without dieting and increase customer loyalty at the same time? Through information that’s fun to access — no points required.
Four people in our office used Lose It, a free iPod app, and lost 110 pounds combined. Lose It offers no diet plans, no exercise plans, no regimens of any kind. All Lose It does is provide the user with information that calculates the calories burned from every form of exercise — no matter if it’s the serious kind like running, weightlifting and Pilates, or the banal forms of everyday living like housework and vacuuming.
Lose It also has a rich database of food metrics that can calculate the calorie and nutritional value of everything you eat (you are what you eat or download?). So, you enter your personal information, such as age, height, and weight, and you tell Lose It how much weight you’d like to lose or gain or maintain over what period of time. Lose It tells you how many calories you can eat every day.
After each meal you enter the foods you ate, or after exercise you enter how many minutes you ran or how long you played darts or how long you curled. The next morning, you enter your weight and you begin again. If you reach your goal, Lose It re-adjusts your daily calorie intake to help you maintain your weight or keep you on track towards your new goal.
Users become attached to Lose It. You dare not miss your workout, or you know that Lose It will be miserly with that day’s calories and you’ll go to bed hungry. You’re highly aware of the calories available to you at each meal, which provides a type of relaxation and satisfaction that you are in control. You know that you can eat everything, simply bearing in mind the right quantities and proportions.
You might say that Lose It has a similar effect on behavior as a smartphone. Way back when, didn’t we think that being tethered to email would add stress? Yet, for many people it has enabled relaxation — to be able to be out of the office creating more value for the business in places and ways that weren’t possible before, or allowing more flexibility to engage in personal activities without undermining business responsibilities.
Lose It is an umbilical cord to healthier eating in a relaxed, fun way. It should be the gold standard for building loyalty. It’s personal, it’s customized, it’s fun, and it works.
Information Adds Value
Every company with a database of customers has the opportunity to build an information app, regardless of where it is accessed, that will trump points and rewards and miles and create intrinsic loyalty. Loyalty that is based on adding value to the brand through information, convenience, or sustainable benefits will change behavior, whereas a loyalty program based primarily on points and rewards is just buying behavior.
Every grocery chain with a loyalty program has the opportunity to create its own Lose It platform as a benefit and reward for participating in their loyalty program.
All loyalty-program customers are encouraged to use their loyalty cards or identify themselves to the cashier when checking out — whether in-the-store or online. As a result, each grocery chain has a database of each loyalty customer’s basket contents from every visit. Customers could go to the loyalty program website and identify themselves with their ID number and receive a breakdown of their purchases in terms of nutritional information and calorie potential, should they eat everything they bought.
Adding Lose It’s personal elements, each member of the household could have an ID and select the items that were bought, enter the amount they ate, and receive a tally of their intake. Customers who have medical-related issues or health-related concerns could enter those profile factors and receive information on how their purchases met or didn’t meet their requirements.
Based on the preferences customers set in their profile, they could receive encouragement for meeting or exceeding their goals. Or, they could receive alerts, if they fall short — or run the risk of falling short — of the medical advice that was prescribed by their physician.
Wouldn’t a benefit like this — that doesn’t reduce margins or reinforce the notion of discounting the brand — be a reward in its own right? What’s more, it is the biggest challenge for all retailers to get their cashiers to ask for the card or ask their customers for their name to look them up. Providing customers with valuable information that’s easy to access will motivate customers to show their card or volunteer their name, removing the burden from the cashier.
Taking it a step further, why not apply a recommendation engine based on nutrition or calorie preferences? If customers enter their health or nutrition requirements, the chain could provide a recommended list of products from all over the store that would meet those requirements. The store could then decide how to create special offers for those products with vendor participation.
Another option would be to provide customers with a weekly recap of the items they bought and recommend items they could have bought to save money or increase their points.
What about recipes? Adding in a recipe database would provide customers with a total package that could take the items they purchased, provide a recap of the nutritional metrics, recommend specific recipes that match the items bought, and identify the missing items needed to fill out the recipes. Once again, this can be sponsored by vendors; higher points would go to those items that are sponsored but customers would be allowed the option of selecting from all of the store’s available items.
The element of fun shouldn’t be overlooked in this process. One of the reasons Lose It works is because the process of entering the information and following your progress is fun. Aside from creating a user interface that would be easy to use and available on a smartphone as well, there could be all sorts of games related to healthier eating, weight loss and fitness levels. There is an opportunity to design a kids or young adult section of the site which could be goal-oriented and game-based to encourage kids to make healthier eating choices and to become more aware that they will become what they eat.
Beyond Targeted Offers
It seems as if most of the loyalty programs we participate in are heavy on points and rewards and light on using the database to build a one-to-one connection to the customer. Simply sending customers a series of targeted offers each month based on what they buy is only one step in the process.
Credit card companies and banks are lately trying to one-up each other with points-related loyalty programs. Why not offer bank customers the opportunity to access financial advisory information and investment information? Banks and credit card companies are eager to steal share from each other and from other players in the financial category.
Why not design a Lose It — which might be better named Make It or Save It — to help their customers save money, find financial bargains, and improve their financial strength as a result of being part of the bank’s loyalty program? Without providing specific recommendations, banks and credit card companies could digest daily financial information and consolidate it for their customers.
It’s funny that the news headlines are hyperactive regarding privacy, fearing that all of our activities online are being tracked and used against us. On the other hand, we have willingly given our information and tracking permission to retailers, and they, for the most part, only want to send us vendor-sponsored offers and talk about points.
They should provide us with real, useful and valuable information relative to the two things we worry about most: our physical health and financial health. There is a big opportunity to take what matters most to consumers and build real benefit-driven, value-added, information apps that will create a stronger and longer-lasting customer.