What’s Holding Back B2B Loyalty Programs?

Jul 10, 2013

Business-to-Business rewards programs often go unrecognized in the loyalty landscape even though they can empower genuine customer relationships while cutting overhead costs.

And finding a really good B2B program can be difficult because, as Kobie’s VP of Loyalty Strategy David Andreadakis put it, “the benchmark of what a B2C loyalty program can do is set so high.”

According to David, it’s far more difficult to personalize a B2B loyalty program and the motivation that drives B2C loyalty – individual need for value – isn’t necessarily present when a company is selling to another company. During a recent interview with Roger Williams of LoadFactor, David spoke about some of the issues affecting B2B loyalty programs today, including:

  • Companies offering B2B loyalty programs need to be mindful of their brand promise as it relates to where on the business-to-consumer chain they are.
  • Just as with B2C programs, the people involved want the status, reciprocity and habits that come with being part of a particular group.
  • There are no systems in place to really track behavior that leads to channel sales.

As Kobie’s VP of Business Development Bram Hechtkopf wrote in his blog post, The Drug of Discounts: Couponing Addiction and What to Do About It, certain offerings such as discounts can be habit-forming. If a program takes them away, it’s in trouble. Just as with a consumer-centric loyalty program, business-centric programs must also be very careful about the customer habits they inadvertently create.

Clearly, the B2B loyalty landscape faces many of the same obstacles B2C programs do, and then some of its own. But taking a page from the B2C playbook and trying to instill a sense of emotional connection could be the key to long-term B2B loyalty.

You can watch David’s interview with Roger Williams here. Are you running a B2B loyalty program or a member of one?  Do you agree with David’s observations?  Share your thoughts with the Kobie community below.