Sweet Featured in Forbes
To Get Loyal Customers, Brands May
Need To Give Them a Taste of Sugar
Forbes published an article about how Sweet’s fan engagement and rewards platform recognizes loyalty with Sugar. We’re exited about the press and about the impact Sweet is having on how fans and brands view what it means to be loyal. Read the entire article below…
Most loyalty programs struggle to establish real connections between brands and the customers they serve. The transactional nature of these programs asks customers to spend money before they ever see a “return” — sometimes to the tune of thousands of dollars. That means mutual trust isn’t established, and consumers can feel effort is flowing from them, not toward them. Even if the consumer genuinely likes and supports the products, services, or art created by the brand, that doesn’t negate the feeling that the investment is one-way.
To this point, some suggest that to make loyalty a two-sided proposition, consumers should be compensated for their brand-building efforts. Glen Weyl, an economist at Yale University, told NPR that most of us should be getting roughly a thousand dollars a year for our troubles. In discussing using Yelp to locate a restaurant, utilizing Google Maps to find the way there, and posting photos on Instagram, Weyl said, “Data is something that is useful to companies in producing products that we all like. It is incredibly intimate, and it belongs powerfully to us. So all of those traits sound a lot to me like labor.”
If data is the new oil, Tom Mizzone, the CEO and founder of Sweet, believes his platform may have found an answer that satisfies both consumers and businesses. “Consumers and fans bring billions of dollars’ worth of value,” he explains, “and they should be rewarded for their loyal participation.”
A Taste of Sweetness
Mizzone says that loyalty programs make sense on the surface, but their execution often leaves a lot to be desired. “The programs that exist currently are often fragmented and purchase-oriented,” he says. “And many people forget to redeem their points — estimates say there’s more than $100 billion worth of unredeemed rewards floating around the marketplace.”
Sweet, a fan engagement and rewards platform, is designed to reward users’ brand-building efforts with Sugar, digital tokens. Consumers and fans are powerful marketers. They attend events and concerts, tell their friends about their new kicks, and share that awesome new single they just discovered. Sweet built a system that rewards them for their actions, not just their purchases.
Small actions — such as liking or tweeting a post, viewing or listening to new content, following, subscribing, referring, or taking surveys — enable brands, artists, and athletes to recognize fans for their engagement with Sugar tokens. Fans can then exchange their Sugar, which carry a universal “spendable value” for rewards ranging from merchandise to one-of-a-kind experiences.
Sweet’s fan loyalty platform is offered in an opt-in format and gamifies the loyalty-earning process and makes incremental rewards feel like they’re building more quickly. And that engagement comes with a bonus for brands: They see a multiplier effect on fans’ engagement, driving deeper relationships with users.
And from a business perspective, everyone benefits: Fans get recognized and receive value for their engagement, and brands can access consumer data while avoiding the tumult of Cambridge Analytica through full transparency and self-reporting collection practices.
A loyalty program that’s built on fans further engaging with the objects of their admiration transforms those fans into super fans. And Sweet’s rewards — which include shout-outs, phone calls, texts, tickets, meet-and-greets, and one-of-a-kind experiences — position fans to get even closer to those artists and brands, further fueling the loyalty cycle. Fans can even do things such as shop former Disney pop star and actor Jorge Blanco’s closet via Skype and select an article of clothing for his team to send.
In fact, Mizzone says, users of the platform are so eager to earn those rewards that they buy more Sugar to get the rewards faster; more than 50 percent of all Sugar redeemed is purchased by fans, not earned. Reward buy-ups are one monetization tool the platform offers brands; artists can also offer VIP access, exclusive content, and ticket access.
Sweet has garnered interest from brands ranging from sports teams and athletes to artists, festivals, influencers, and tattoo-focused publications. The program’s format is open to a wide variety of interests and circumstances — fans’ participation is restricted only by the time and energy they have available, not their income.
The Black Eyed Peas saw the value of the platform and recorded a launch video that the band distributed via its website and social platforms. The first 1 million Sugar token redemption was for a Black Eyed Peas video cameo, and growth has been swift: Sweet has onboarded dozens of brands and has 100 more awaiting spots on the platform. The payoff? More than 1 million Sugar-earning actions have been carried out by fans in 138 countries.
Sweet also believes in open scalable markets and economies. The next phase of Sugar’s growth involves expanding to broader markets and, in the future, connecting the Sugar token to an external public blockchain. By creating a conduit, Sugar will have the ability to allow its tokens to be used in any type of third-party app or program. To that end, Sweet appointed Max Keiser of “The Keiser Report” to serve as an economic advisor. “What Sweet has established is a highly scalable platform for all culturally relevant brands,” he said.
Sweetening the Pot
What does a model like Sweet’s mean for the loyalty market as a whole? As more people participate and more brands become attuned to the idea of sharing with fans rather than collecting from them, this approach will become more widespread. Pressure will mount for other loyalty programs to signal to consumers that they — and their data — are not being taken lightly.
Two-way investments are becoming the name of the game in brand-consumer relationships. Brands have poured money into creating personalized experiences for customers, based on the data they’ve collected about them, but that soon won’t be enough. Consumers want the authentic interest and engagement of a small business, combined with the resources of a large corporation. That means brands of all sizes will need to “sweeten the pot” by showing consumers that they care about them as people, not just numbers.
Loyalty programs may not be earning as much loyalty as hoped, but that’s a sign that these programs need to be redesigned rather than abandoned. Concepts like Sweet’s prove that there are a lot more options for engagement than brands may have thought possible — all they have to do is initiate that engagement and reward it.
Read the article To Get Loyal Customers, Brands May Need To Give Them A Taste Of Sugar by Serenity Gibbons on Forbes.com.