The word “connoisseur” gets thrown around a lot these days. Whether it’s food or classic cars or even wine, it seems everyone wants to be a connoisseur. It’s a term commonly used to describe individuals who have an extensive (or at the very least impressive) knowledge of a particular product or category. One of my friends, for example, could tell you everything there is to know about a wide variety of types of coffee, including where you can buy the best flat white in town.
Connoisseurs’ passions for particular products and services have earned them a number of different nicknames across a variety of industries. Terms like “junkie”, “gearhead”, and “foodie” have become common ways to describe someone who exhibits dominance in specific areas of expertise. However, no matter what industry a connoisseur is into, some things remain the same – they’re well-informed, opinionated, and always on the lookout for the next high quality offering.
As I already mentioned, a connoisseur is someone considered to be an expert in a particular product category or industry. However, this doesn’t mean they necessarily have a consistent brand preference. Instead, connoisseurs are extremely picky, preferring to weigh their options and dedicate time to researching every available alternative.
This selective, informed method of consumption also leads them to be variety seekers. Since they are always on the hunt for the next big thing, they are very susceptible to brand sampling in an effort to explore all of their options. For this reason, connoisseurs typically direct their loyalty towards an entire category as opposed to any specific brand.
A connoisseur’s seemingly limited attention span can make it difficult to determine how to keep them interested. Short-term solutions like discounting aren’t enough to make a lasting impression and put your business at risk for the future. It also lowers the perceived prestige of your brand, which is extremely off-putting for connoisseurs. As customers who are always looking for the best, a dip in perceived quality can be extremely damaging to a connoisseur’s impression of your brand . Instead, you need a long-term solution that not only grabs and holds their attention but also clearly separates your brand from the others they might have been sampling.
That’s where retention marketing comes in – particularly a rewards program. With a carefully crafted loyalty program, you can transform your brand from “one of many to try” to “one worth coming back to” or as one of my coworkers likes to say, from “one of a million” to “one in a million”.
Designing Rewards for Connoisseurs
Customer rewards are often referred to as a “switching cost”. Switching costs are anything the customer might lose by changing brands, suppliers, or products, and can come in many different forms. In the context of a rewards program, the points and rewards customers earn by participating are a switching cost baked right into the brand experience, and it’s the value of these rewards that will keep connoisseurs coming back to your brand.
If a connoisseur is well-versed in your industry, they will definitely know which of your competitors offer rewards. In fact, 69% of all customers say that their decision to shop with certain brands is directly influenced by where they can earn rewards. With that in mind, you need to make sure that your switching costs are significantly higher than your competitor’s. The best way to do that? Make sure your rewards exceed their expectations.
Studies have shown that 53% of customers join rewards programs for discounts. This mindset has resulted in transactional rewards – such as dollars off and free shipping – becoming expected. However, as more and more brands cater to this demand, customers are becoming disenchanted with these types of rewards. This phenomenon is can be described using the law of Diminishing Marginal Utility: the more a customer uses a transactional reward, the more quickly they grow tired of it.
As explorers, connoisseurs will not be drawn to a brand that only offers one type of reward. With a desire to try new things, these picky customers want to be given variety and the option to choose the reward that best suits their needs. With this in mind, a brand that offers more than just discounts looks infinitely more appealing than one who doesn’t.
While it might sound difficult to expand your program’s rewards menu, it doesn’t have to be! Something as simple as a free product reward can go a long way to reinvigorating your rewards program. The best part about free product rewards is that it doesn’t have to be big to be valuable. Product samples or branded swag are two easy-to-implement product rewards that add lots of value for your customers without significantly impacting your margins.
This type of reward is also extremely appealing to your research-driven connoisseurs. With free products, connoisseurs are given a risk-free chance to sample more of your products without making a financial commitment. By giving them the ability to explore more of your brand, you recognize their desire to know absolutely everything before making a commitment. This gives them more ammo to load their arsenal of knowledge regarding your industry. Diversified rewards help connoisseurs find even more value in your brand and, most importantly, keep these high value customers coming back for more.
If you want connoisseurs to love your rewards program, you need to make sure you’re delivering the best experience possible. Nothing but the best will do for these choosy consumers, and having a wide rewards menu isn’t enough. Connoisseurs demand an outstanding experience in every interaction with your brand, and that starts with their first impression. It doesn’t matter how amazing your program is if it’s poorly packaged – a connoisseur will already be long gone. To impress a connoisseur, it is imperative that your program is as beautiful on the outside as it is on the inside.
When you build a loyalty brand for your rewards program, you’re able to fully integrate your program into the rest of your brand. From a beautiful modal to a thoughtfully-designed explainer page, your rewards program will come across as a natural extension of your existing brand to any customers who come across your site.
Paying attention to elements like color, photography, and logos will significantly help this process. With these features in mind, choosing a rewards solution that allows you to customize in these ways will go a long way to improving your entire rewards experience. You know what they say – you only get one chance to make a first impression, and that first impression can make or break a customer relationship.
At the end of the day, the more care and attention you put into your program, the more memorable it becomes. This memorability is what will set your brand apart from the myriad of others that connoisseurs have already explored. In addition, these features also make your program’s value easy to find, easy to understand, and easy to access. This positive experience will act as another emotional switching cost, keeping even the most discerning of customers coming back to an experience that they know can (and will) meet their needs.
When you consider that connoisseurs are people with extensive knowledge about a specific product or industry, it’s easy to see why they might think highly of themselves. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I sometimes think a little bit higher of myself because of my wealth of Disney knowledge.As a Disney connoisseur, I can tell you that I definitely think more of myself than others with less knowledge about Disney than I do. This desire to prove their superiority and defend their status makes VIP tiers the perfect rewards feature for connoisseurs.
A VIP program gives you the chance to publicly recognize your best customers for their dedication and expertise. This social status is an extremely powerful motivator that has driven millions of customers to participate in highly successful programs like Starbucks’ Starbucks Rewards and Sephora’s VIB Rouge. This is an especially attractive feature for connoisseurs. With tiers, you can motivate them to engage with your program more often in order to achieve that public recognition.
You can take this even further by offering status-specific rewards. Sephora is extremely good at this, giving their loyal customers access to exclusive events, free shipping on every order, and custom makeovers. With these types of rewards, they’re able to create an extremely powerful emotional switching cost that keeps customers coming back time and time again.
In the same way, you can use VIP rewards to further separate your connoisseurs from the rest of your customers. This heightened sense of importance will pair nicely with your diversified rewards and branding to raise your rewards program to a whole other level.
The Power of Status and Perception
Between the three rewards features discussed above, it’s clear that status and perception are the key to appealing to connoisseurs. With a beautiful, eye-catching tiered rewards program, you can create a customer experience that recognizes a customer’s knowledge of your industry without detracting from your overall brand experience.
When you build a program that exceeds their heightened standards, connoisseurs can be won to your brand and become valuable ambassadors, sharing your brand with their web of social contacts. With that type of marketing potential on the line, designing your program with connoisseurs in mind becomes the obvious course of action to keep your brand on top of the pile.
Want to learn more about customer segmentation?
Click on any of the links below to learn more about that customer group.