With a background in the commercial radio sector in Ireland and Europe, Nuala Canning set up Brand Fire in 2012 to develop a range of customer loyalty programmes, sales promotions and digital marketing services to clients such as Bank of Ireland, 123.ie, Glanbia and Circle K.

Describe your role with Brand Fire

As MD, I have overall responsibility for the company and its success, but my principal role is to create and implement the strategic direction of the company. I continually research and connect with key players in the market. This allows me to understand the changes in technology and today’s consumers so that we are well placed to advise our clients.

What challenges does the company face?

What loyalty means depends on the demographic you are dealing with. Millennials, baby boomers and Generation X all expect different things from their favourite brand’s loyalty programme. This is being driven by a number of factors, with technology playing a major role. We are now seeing a role for augmented reality and blockchain and, as an agency, we need to educate our clients about these technologies.

We also spend a lot of time researching and trying to anticipate trends so that we can continue to improve our offering.There’s always some type of improvement that can be made: a change in a process, a better working environment or better communication.

What does the future of customer loyalty look like?

Loyalty means different things to different consumers. A traditional definition of loyalty is creating a consistently positive emotional experience, physical attribute-based satisfaction and perceived value of an experience which includes the product or services. However, as previously mentioned, millennials view loyalty differently. Research will tell us that they are not as interested in a transactional reward. For them loyalty is about genuine experiences, customer engagement and convenience.

Baby boomers, on the other hand, are more likely to demonstrate loyalty to brands that value exceptional customer service, offer real value, and are distinguished by accessibility.

In the future, I think brands will begin to move away from the traditional transaction loyalty model and engage with consumers on their terms.

Through a better understanding of data and analytics, brands must show consumers that they understand them better. The internet continues to shake things up. More and more consumers are purchasing online. So consumers have a lot of power. This is providing them with more choice and a greater emphasis on brands creating that point of difference in customer service.

Technology is driving a lot of this change. We still have to see the impact of augmented reality and virtual reality on loyalty. These will provide deeper data insights and have the potential to deliver new types of customer experiences through loyalty programmes. But it’s important we don’t forget the channels consumers are already using, of which, for now and for the foreseeable future, is mobile.

Sunday Indo Business