What Do Customers Really Want? 5 Secrets Behind Building Brand Loyalty

We were thrilled to attend the Customer Loyalty & Retention Conference at 1 America Square, London, hosted by Global Insight Conferences on 14 November. The event was packed with insightful speakers sharing their knowledge and experience in building customer loyalty, and we learned so much.

Future Platforms’ managing directors also attended and presented five secrets behind building brand loyalty using data from our recent survey. If you couldn’t join, don’t worry! In this article, we’ll share our thoughts from the event and explore the same insights from our research so you won’t miss out. Read on to learn more.

Our presentation (in brief) on what customers really want: Five secrets behind building brand loyalty

Future Platforms’ managing directors, Remy Brooks and Greet Jans, were invited as speakers and presented our findings from a recent research project. In it, we surveyed 1,000 British consumers, asking 21 questions to understand what they liked and disliked about brand loyalty schemes they used. Here’s what we found:

The basics

Before we begin, it’s important to lay some groundwork on our topic and understand the context of the questions asked. To this end, let’s look at some of the basics behind building customer loyalty.


What is brand loyalty? 

Consumers’ brand loyalty can occur for many reasons, but a leading driver is access to better value on their spending. From our survey, the top reason for 56% of respondents joining loyalty schemes was access to discounts and cashback programmes. Meanwhile, 64% sought access to members-only prices. Though less important, other reasons involved early product access or exclusive rewards.


Why is brand loyalty important?

Consumers are keen to find value and will adapt their spending patterns to suit. While leading incumbent brands dominate, there are new challengers that are worth watching.


Some of the most popular loyalty schemes included long-standing offers from big brands, like Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda, Boots and Amazon. However, brands like Starbucks, McDonald’s, Blue Light and ASOS showed promising innovations. These ranged from integrated ordering systems to spend-based incentives that unlocked different reward tiers.

1. Consumers want money, not points

Consumers prefer monetary rewards over points-based schemes since they understand the value more accurately. This can either take shape as access to member-only prices or cashback rewards on regular spending.

This is partly the reason why Asda’s “pounds not points” campaign has worked so well with customers. The value of customers’ Cashpot is highly transparent and instantly understandable.

2. Consumers want novelty, not games

Only a very small minority (9%) of consumers felt that gamification features, such as badges, rewards, etc., impacted their behaviour. Instead, most customers tend to want better value on their regular spending patterns.

However, nearly half (46%) of all respondents said they used loyalty to try new products. This means brands could use reward schemes to test new ideas with highly engaged customers and quickly collect feedback on their scalability from their core market.

3. Consumers want rewards now, not later

Over a third of respondents remembered a time when they received an immediate benefit from their favourite loyalty programme. Therefore, fast rewards build both brand loyalty and recall – a tool that marketers could leverage to grow their reward scheme’s adoption with customers.


At the same time, around a third of consumers want small benefits more regularly over larger but infrequent rewards. Given this, customer success leads should focus on providing regular demonstrations of value to customers to build brand loyalty.

4. Consumers want simplicity, not confusion

“Ease of joining” was the second most important driver of building consumer loyalty. However, brands need to maintain this simplicity and be wary of changes that disrupt highly loyal customer behaviours.

Our research showed that the vast majority of our sample – a mere 84% – had a good or excellent understanding of their favourite scheme. As a result, they know when and how it changes. This lesson was something that Marks & Spencer faced when they were forced to redesign their 2018 Sparks programme. Surveys showed that consumers were confused as to how the programme would benefit them, and turned down loyalty offers on this basis en masse. 

5. Consumers want apps, not websites

91% of consumers use apps to access their favourite loyalty schemes versus other avenues like websites and traditional loyalty cards. This preference is because apps pre-load customer details (saving consumers from logging in every time they want to redeem a benefit) as well as offer an interactive customer experience.

Brands should increasingly leverage these digital channels to deliver deeper personalisation, localisation and customer engagement. Doing so can help customer success teams deliver tailored customer experiences and respond to local branch needs at the same time.

Discover more about building consumer loyalty in the full report from Future Platforms

We’d like to extend another thank you to the team from behind the Customer Loyalty & Retention Conference as well as our fellow speakers and attendees. It was a privilege to join leading brands like Tesco Bank, John Lewis, IKEA, Vodafone, and many, many others and share our insights on building brand loyalty and customer retention techniques. 

Of course, this was only a snapshot of our report. The full version is available on our website for free. In it, you learn how incumbent brands compare to today’s challengers and what customers are really looking for in their brand loyalty schemes. 

Get your copy on our website now.

What Creates Brand Loyalty in Sports?

Keen to grow your sports clubs’ revenues? Then this is the article for you. Brand loyalty in sports is vital for long-term growth, but fan favour is hard won and easily lost. 

That’s why, in this article, we’re exploring some of the key tenets behind how to create brand loyalty in sports. We’ll examine how brands foster loyalty more generally before discussing sports-specific examples that you can use. Read on to learn more or get your copy of the full report now.

How to create brand loyalty

Consumers’ brand loyalty differs slightly between products and services. In general, brands aim to deliver a superior customer experience by offering better materials, higher build quality, seamless service, and so on. 

While there are lots of factors that go into customers’ decision-making (including convenience, price point, and more), marketers’ hope is to evidence superior value to customers. Of course, there are a few exceptions to the laws of supply and demand. Equally, there are some loyalty strategies that work more than others. 

For example, some goods, like luxury items, grow in demand despite rising costs because of the social status each item signifies. Given this, many luxury brands have cultivated a loyal customer following because of the feeling of exclusivity and uniqueness they deliver to customers.

Likewise, personalised service has emerged as a vital strategy in recent years. McKinsey research from 2021 found that 71% of consumers expect personalised brand interactions and 67% become frustrated when this doesn’t happen. As a result, companies delivering leading personalisation can achieve faster revenue growth, meaning lagging firms are facing harsher market penalties.

How does brand loyalty in sports differ?

Brand loyalty in sports is somewhat unique. The fan experience is something that fans already have a lot of control over and arguably something they can already achieve themselves. Whether they choose to watch live events at home, visit local pubs or town squares or search online for peer communities. 

Therefore, the main strategy for building brand loyalty in sports is to enable fans’ experience further by understanding their needs and enriching their interaction – both with one another and with their favourite athletes.

Of course, engagement and loyalty in sports can take many forms, so marketers must take many things into consideration. If you’re curious about how to convert fan engagement into loyalty, check out our other articles in this series:

Four ways to foster brand loyalty in sports

We recently surveyed 1,000 British sports fans to understand what they loved about sports and how clubs could enrich those experiences. Here’s a brief overview of what we found: 

1. Tapping into fans’ emotions

Sports fans’ experience is awash with highs and lows, from the early hopes of qualifying rounds to the national pride of international championship success. 

Recognising – and capitalising – on that emotional investment is vital to convert engagement into long-term loyalty. Make sure to dig deep into the history and legacy of your club and shine a light on key figures or oft-forgotten moments. Similarly, be responsive to fan feedback on other important issues in their lives to evidence your wider appreciation for their continued support.

2. Creating a community spirit

Fans are increasingly consuming sports media through new channels and using social media platforms to find communities. Given this, clubs must build and scale fan communities where supporters can find peers with shared interests and celebrate news updates and club successes together.

Sports team sponsorships are another great way of building a sense of community, particularly if clubs offer money or volunteer their time for local causes. Clubs can also issue an appeal to their fans and prompt them to join in on the charitable work. Doing so can maximise the value that charitable work can do as well as offer shared experiences outside of sports to fans. 

What’s more, club leaders can combine each of the two above strategies and offer fundraising appeals, memorial efforts or celebrations for well-known or important figures within your fan community.

3. Offering rewards

Clubs need to give fans a reason to stick around after engaging. That’s why offering rewards and different tiers of membership can be a great way of helping everyone feel a part of the experience. 

Similar research that we’ve conducted on other British consumers found that loyalty scheme members want quick and regular rewards over complex or delayed programmes. Given this,  clubs need to be wary about the structure of their reward schemes. 

4. Reaching out

Clubs can’t wait for fans to reach out to them. Instead, sports club leaders need to take a proactive approach to engaging fans and converting early interactions to long-term loyalty. 

As mentioned, sports team sponsorships are a great way to branch out into the wider community. However, even simple interactions between fans and their favourite athletes via social media can mean a world of difference to club supporters. So, sports club leaders have lots of options to connect with fans and deliver truly personalised interactions.

Discover the future of sports fan engagement platforms in our latest Whitepaper

At Future Platforms, we’ve put together a new report where we go in-depth on the current and future challenges within the sports industry.

Complete with insights from 1,000 British football fans, club leaders and industry experts, we offer a forward-thinking vision for the future of brand loyalty in sports. We offer strategic recommendations to help club leaders adapt amid a fragmenting landscape of sports media consumption.

Interested? Get your free copy now!

What Makes a Good Sports Fan Engagement Platform?

By 2027, forecasts suggest the global sports entertainment market is expected to grow to over $623 billion. Naturally, sports fan engagement is a vital part of this growth, but the revenue benefits will only be available to fast-acting organisations that transform their sports fan engagement platforms. Namely, by offering all the key aspects that fans are looking for in their favourite apps.

That’s why, in this article, we’re looking at what makes for a good engagement platform, where fan camaraderie and loyalty rewards are at the heart of the club experience. Read on to learn more and discover scalable strategies to deliver next-gen fan experiences.  

What is an engagement platform?

An engagement platform is an app or website that enables brands to reach out to their followers. These platforms can take many forms, including simple online forums to all-in-one multimedia super apps. Interestingly, brands don’t necessarily need to own these engagement platforms directly. Some brands even let followers interact with others to share user-generated content, discuss updates, and more. Though it’s difficult to cultivate and scale, these peer interactions add an extra layer of authenticity and community to engagement platforms that’s incredibly valuable.

Within the sports context, a good sports engagement platform puts personalisation and customisation front and centre. This focus allows fans to follow individual players or clubs they like most while also accessing all the information they need to enjoy themselves at venues. Let’s now look at some of the essential features and benefits engagement platforms should offer, or read our dedicated Whitepaper where we go into more detail.

Essential elements within any engagement platform

Build community and camaraderie

First and foremost, engagement platforms should enable interaction, allowing customers to find community with each other based on shared interests and grow their familiarity with brands.

These social features can allow customers to share best practices on how to use your product/service while also allowing brands to collect feedback in near real-time, too.

Establish omnichannel integrations

More sophisticated engagement platforms allow marketing managers to integrate customer data from different sources. This then allows them to achieve greater customer targeting to deliver more personalised and relevant information to users. 

We circle back to this topic within sports fan contexts further down, so keep reading to learn more.

Offer fast and easy rewards

Finally, the best engagement platforms help to incentivise regular engagement in the future. Common tactics can include push notifications, discounts, and more. However, brands should be wary about making their loyalty process too difficult or complex. 

The experience of watching sports in stadiums, court-side or even at home is already something that fans enjoy. It’s the club’s job to heighten that, so ensure to keep rewards schemes simple and issue rewards quickly and regularly. In previous research, we uncovered that a vast majority of loyalty scheme members have a good or very good understanding of their membership programme. As such, customers are highly sensitive to changes in the incentives and rewards on offer.

How to tailor your platform towards sports fan engagement

We surveyed 1,000 British sports fans to understand what they liked most about the sports fan experience and how clubs could enrich it. Here’s a taste of what we uncovered: 

Live streaming capabilities

Sports fans are usually interacting with your platform for one reason: to watch the latest game. Given this, our research showed it’s essential that any sports engagement platform gets the basics right. Namely, by allowing fans to watch live streams in-apps directly or signpost to where they can catch the action instead.

Merchandise opportunities

Sports merchandise is a common gift for many fans, meaning clubs can leverage fans’ interest in signed club materials and other memorabilia for revenue.

To help foster these consumer behaviours, clubs can offer early access to loyal fans and free giveaways for regular engagement. As mentioned above, just make sure to keep reward schemes simple or learn why in our dedicated article, The Ultimate Guide to Fan Loyalty & Fan Engagement.

Relevant information

Finally, our research found that fans remain engaged even in the off-season. While 56% of fans check their favourite sports apps daily during the in-season, this rises to 80% in the off-season. So, clubs need to find ways to deliver relevant content to fans before, during and after games. 

Our survey respondents said that they wanted to be able to keep up to date with the latest stats and news from clubs, as well as more information on overlooked sports categories like lower leagues, women’s teams and others. As a result, we recommend that clubs embrace these niches while also offering fans information on travel routes and hospitality outlets while attending their favourite matches. 

Of course, it can be hard to inspire fan engagement in new media offerings. So, if you’re looking for some inspiration, make sure to check out our other article on 5 of the Best Fan Engagement Campaigns. 

Discover the future of sports fan engagement platforms in our latest Whitepaper

The digital playing field – like you’ve never seen it before. Check out the industry insights collected from 1,000 British football fans as well as club leaders and experts in our latest Whitepaper.

We examine consumers’ modern expectations for fan engagement platforms in sports and explore what club leaders can do in response. Amid a fragmenting landscape of sports media consumption, we offer strategic recommendations on next steps to help you adapt.

Interested? Get your free copy now!

5 of the Best Fan Engagement Campaigns We’ve Seen

Need inspiration for your next marketing campaign? This is the article for you! Whether you’re a fan of inbound digital marketing techniques or flagship in-person activations (who doesn’t love a bit of pizzazz?), we’re breaking down some of the best fan engagement campaigns we’ve seen around. 

Complete with engagement campaign examples from beloved brands, you’ll learn what makes for great customer interactions and why. Read on to learn more or check out the full research in our whitepaper, Navigating the Digital Playfield: Understanding Engagement and Consumer Expectations.

What is an engagement campaign?

‘Engagement’ can have different meanings depending on what platform or strategy you use to reach out to customers. In general, the idea is to interact and excite people based on who they are/what they do and towards a specific goal. 

This is often towards making a purchase or subscribing for more information, but it can also simply be about maintaining a relationship with existing customers in what’s known as remarketing. Since engagement campaigns don’t have to be perfectly targeted, there’s often some overlap of who you’re engaging with between new and existing customers. As such, simple engagement campaigns can re-use many of the same assets for new and existing customers.

But what exactly makes for a good engagement campaign, and why? You can read more in our dedicated article, The Ultimate Guide to Fan Loyalty & Fan Engagement. Otherwise, here’s a brief list of inspiration you can use:

5 of the top fan engagement campaign examples

1. Fortnite OG

Debuting in early November 2023, Fortnite OG is one of the best fan engagement campaigns around. In offering long-time players the ultimate nostalgia trip and newcomers a new chance to jump on the bandwagon, Fortnite OG revisits the game’s very own history. 

Namely, by exploring each phase of the Battle Royale’s past, starting with Chapter 1, Season 5. This season sees the Battle Royal giant re-releasing beloved game items, weapons, and more, allowing fans to re-experience the game’s five-year evolution in just a few weeks.

Although the campaign is ongoing, with new seasons planned very soon, it has been one of the game’s most successful to date. More than 44 million players joined on the first day of the competition, reigniting fans’ early love of the game and offering a shared player experience.

2. FIFA World on Roblox

Staying with gaming examples a little longer, another great example of fan engagement is FIFA World on Roblox. Unveiled ahead of the 2022 Qatar World Cup, FIFA World is a free-to-play virtual environment that celebrates the power and history of football. Fans can socialise, earn rewards, collect exclusive items and play football-themed events.

Recently, FIFA expanded the engagement campaign for the 2023 Women’s World Cup and has further engagement campaigns planned on Roblox as part of the multi-year partnership. The engagement campaign on Roblox has become wildly successful, with over 17.5 million visits and an 83% community rating from fans, thanks to its novelty and well-timed release. Given its wild success, make sure to keep tabs on this campaign and its future releases in the years to come.

3. Red Bull Racing’s Paddock Club

Red Bull is no stranger to eye-catching fan engagement campaigns, with previous feats including the Red Bull Stratos campaign: a supersonic free-fall spectacle from 128 thousand feet high. You know, normal brand activities…! 

However, its Paddock Club is something different. The Paddock Club is a completely free-to-enter loyalty club and hospitality provider that allows fans to access unique experiences and rewards.

The secret to its success lies in its simplicity. Fans can earn points simply by engaging with Formula 1 content, which can then be traded for merchandise, autographed items, VIP experiences and more. Best of all, fan points reset each calendar year. While this may seem counter-intuitive, it means whale-like point collectors don’t get to hoard all the rewards. Instead, everyone gets a chance to win Paddock Club offers. F1 recently reported its revenues grew to $2.5 billion amid record fan attendance, thanks in part to the Paddock Club.

4. Arsenal Match Predictor

Another one of the best fan engagement campaigns around is Arsenal FC’s Match Predictor. Fans submit their predictions for each match, including the final score, the first goalscorer  and the time of scoring. Lucky fans then have the chance to win signed merchandise each month or a VIP trip at the end of the season.

As with Red Bull’s campaign, its success is its simplicity. Given that fans already have these conversations among themselves, the Match Predictor gives Arsenal FC a way to engage and reward its most loyal (and knowledgeable!) fans. As a by-product, Arsenal FC also gets to collect data on highly engaged fans and use the information in subsequent fan engagement campaigns, providing long-term returns.

5. Premier League

Finally – another football-themed fan engagement campaign example – is our work with the Premier League. Premier League away days have suffered a 10% attendance decline over five years due to a lack of information on travel routes, hospitality, parking, and more.

We worked with the League to redesign and relaunch its Away Days app, engaging fans with the information they need to make the best of their days out. 

The project followed the Premier League Away Supporters Initiative, which saw each club invest £200,000 per season to make the matchday experience better for travelling fans. After launch, the app received over 200 thousand downloads across iOS and Android devices, with more than 2 million app sessions across the 2014-15 season. As a result, we managed to empower fan away days and make sure they could show their support when their team needed it most.

Learn more about some of the best fan engagement campaigns in our latest Whitepaper

We’ve collated industry insights from 1,000 British football fans as well as club leaders and experts in our latest Whitepaper.

In it, we do in-depth on modern consumer expectations for fan engagement in sports and what club leaders can do in response. You’ll learn about the pain points and opportunities that lie ahead and see our strategic recommendations on potential next steps.

Interested? Get your free copy now!

The Ultimate Guide to Fan Loyalty & Fan Engagement

The current state of fan loyalty in sports

Fracturing media landscape

Evolving fan expectations

What does fan engagement look like…

Within individual sports?

From the club perspective…

How to foster fan loyalty in sports

Expanding coverage

Loyalty and membership:

Case study spotlight: Paris Saint-Germain

Learn more about the future of fan loyalty in sports in our latest Whitepaper

Discover the digital playing field like you’ve never seen it before. We’ve collated industry insights from 1,000 British football fans as well as club leaders and experts in our latest Whitepaper.

In it, we examine modern consumer expectations for fan engagement in sports and explore what club leaders can do in response. We go more in-depth into the fragmenting landscape of sports media consumption and offer strategic recommendations on the next steps.

Get your free copy now

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