What powers customer devotion? Brierley knows, and they’re sharing those insights with industry’s best and brightest.
Loyalty initiatives have come a long way since American Airlines created their frequent flyer program. At the time, the 1980 effort was only the second of its kind in the world, and the one outside consultant American trusted to help get it off the ground was database marketing expert Hal Brierley. Today, AAdvantage® is the largest program of its kind in the travel industry, and the Brierley name has gone down in marketing history.
The consulting firm he built on the heels of that success, Brierley+Partners, would forever alter the landscape of loyalty and engagement, changing the way businesses think about and profit from customer loyalty. Over time, the organization shifted from its roots as a marketing agency, integrating next-generation technology with an unmatched depth of expertise to zero in on the loyalty management market.
The firm helped retailers, travel companies, hospitality groups, and others establish their loyalty strategy, using analytics to test economic feasibility while assembling a complete financial model based on reliable assumptions about program enrollment and reward cadence, demonstrating that loyalty programs could be lucrative profit centers.
Nearly 300 successful programs later, and with a streamlined identity as “Brierley,” the company’s work is more relevant than ever, with CPGs, B2B players, the finance sector and others seeking the key to capturing lifetime customers. Brierley himself is no longer with the company, leaving shortly after its purchase by Nomura Research Institute (NRI) in 2015.
At a time when consumer preferences are increasingly liquid, and when buyer expectations are heavily influenced by price and immediacy, the complexity of capturing hearts and minds is fearsome.
Understandably, the global loyalty management industry is sizzling. Valued in 2020 at over $4 billion, the market is expected to reach $13.8 billion by 2026 with a cushy CAGR of 22.7% from 2021 to 2026. Analysts, including Forrester Research, Gartner, and Loyalty 360, point to Brierley as an industry standout.
“Our mission today is to create measurable, profitable programs,” company CTO Bill Swift said. “It’s not just fun and games — they need to be profitable for our clients and exciting for their consumers.” To that end, Brierley delivers profitable, award-winning programs that enable their clients to bring an entire loyalty solution to market. “We start by helping them with marketing strategy, which leads into technology architecture, product configuration, and then it goes into public launch. And that’s just the beginning.”
From a technology perspective, loyalty is integrated into every aspect of customer outreach, from e-commerce platforms to mobile apps, and from call centers to the point of sale. Brierley helps their clients integrate the right operational systems for the program and gets deep into day-to-day execution matters such as choosing the best promotion to meet the objectives of the day — or the hour.
“The competitors we see out there that are purely software companies or consultancies aren’t able to offer that depth and breadth,” Swift noted. In addition to competing with traditional loyalty companies such as Epsilon (a precursor to Brierley+Partners co-founded by Hal Brierley), software providers are in the mix. “As the landscape changes, our differentiators are shifting a bit. Oracle acquired CrowdTwist, which is very loyalty-centric, so now we're not just competing with CrowdTwist, we’re competing with Oracle. We’re competing with Salesforce.”
As an innovative hybrid meshing depth, expertise, and longevity with novel proprietary software, Brierley is well set to unnerve the newcomers. “We know what works and what doesn’t. Across technology, strategy and analytics and our Client Success group, we have some seasoned, experienced tenure,” Swift said. “If a prospect is looking at a SaaS competitor as an example, they’re not going to get that. You can get the software, but it’s up to you to figure out what to do with it. … The software may work just fine, but the guidance won’t be there. The relationship won’t be there.”
Swift views the firm as a 30-year-old startup with a powerful combination of knowledge and hunger. “We change every day,” he said.
Transforming Loyalty Through Technology
The company recently introduced its next-generation loyalty management platform, LoyaltyOnDemand®, a powerful, easy to use environment designed to grow with their customers, whether they need a program that’s easily configurable or one that’s highly customized. As they developed the platform, Brierley sought extensive usability feedback from non-technical users. “We focused a lot on the UX and self-service from a marketer’s perspective, allowing our customers, once the system is integrated, to focus on the day-to-day work, measurement, adjustment to tiers, reward catalogs, things like that,” Swift said.
“When we started our transformation, we had very specific measurements about what we were trying to accomplish,” he stressed. In Brierley’s world, the technology evolution journey is never ending, and every step is carefully measured. And they’ve also coined a new “as-a” term, Loyalty as a Service, or LaaS.
LoyaltyOnDemand® can help businesses reach global audiences in any part of the world, even for multiple brands. “(It) allows our clients to have multiple programs that may be brand-centric or regional and give them the flexibility to set up as many programs as they need, all of which are governed by our privacy and security models,” Swift said.
Analytics are central to everything the company does, and as the new platform design evolved, Brierley incorporated their data scientists from their analyst group into their product development team. “Prior to that, our analytics practice was completely separate from technology, and now they’ve become more one in the same,” he added. “Some of the tools they have around predictive models and our recommendation engine are now integrated into our new platform.”
Dallas-based software engineering partner Qentelli took part in the software development project. “Their team in India helped us tremendously with the evolution of our SaaS-based product. We started that relationship along the lines of test automation and expanded into DevOps and product development. They’re a good partner.” Swift also views Digital transformation and consulting firm AgileThought as part of his tech team.
“AgileThought has been a partner for seven years now,” he said. “We have a group in Mexico as part of our technology organization that have truly become a part of our team. We had a global technology town hall last week and had people online from Asia, Japan, the Philippines, Mexico, India, and the U.S. We treat our partners as part of our team.”
Parent NRI also contributed to the platform’s creation. “They’ve taken our platform and our other tools to their existing clients and have implemented loyalty in Thailand and different parts of the world as a partner would, independent of our core business, and it clearly helped,” he said. Another offering that is of special interest to the Tokyo-based IT Solutions and consulting company: The Brierley Loyalty Quotient, or BLQ.
A leader in measuring emotional loyalty, Brierley developed the BLQ to assess the impact of rational and emotional responses that are the keys to devotion. “NRI supported the emotional aspect; they’ve really latched onto that in Japan. They’ve actually taken our BLQ and the measurement of emotional loyalty into many different clients to see how it resonates in the rest of the world.”
Brierley’s analytics team is incorporating ML/AI for NLP into the assessment of consumers' emotional responses to companies and brands. Using a survey with open-ended questions, the engine is helping them understand the nuances of consumer sentiment and get to the heart of what they really think.
Brierley is also open-hearted when it comes to inspiration, inviting passionate tech professionals to make a difference by making loyalty exciting, and wooing new business partners looking to advance their loyalty strategy. Swift said, “Loyalty is integrated into so many things … especially when you bring in the engagement component and the excitement that needs to be there.” We’re excited to see what this inventive enterprise does next.
Brierley is transforming loyalty around the world, turning client challenges into successful and profitable loyalty program solutions. We bring together innovative thought leadership, unparalleled expertise, and advanced technologies to help brands win customers’ hearts and minds.
Brierley offers the full breadth of services to drive unprecedented loyalty success: program design, strategy, research, analytics, customer insights, creative, and digital solutions. In addition, Brierley’s intuitive platform — LoyaltyOnDemand® — empowers everything a loyalty program demands to engage customers across every channel and touchpoint. It represents a powerful evolution in loyalty technology, continuously evolving with new features to keep programs on the leading edge.
Experts you can count on. Solutions you can trust. Success you can measure.
Brierley is U.S.-based and is a wholly owned subsidiary of Nomura Research Institute, headquartered in Tokyo, Japan. To learn more about Brierley, visit https://www.brierley.com/.
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