Mark Kanji is on fire about the subject of loyalty. It’s no wonder, considering he managed to accumulate 402,000 points with his favourite airline – the equivalent of six trips around the world – and remained completely oblivious to this asset. His newly launched app, Loyalive, is a bid to stop this lax approach and to help consumers get more value from their loyalty. As the founder of mobile agency Apptivation, the winner of an international innovation Citibank award, and having delivered some of the highest rated and downloaded mobile applications for UK’s largest banks and brands, Mark tells us exactly why a little loyalty can go a long, long way….
A ‘trillion dollar issue’ is the term Kanji uses when describing the current loyalty landscape. He believes that despite businesses investing money in their respective loyalty programmes, brands lack the motivation to fully engage with the idea. ‘Some leading brands purposely don’t advertise their loyalty rewards,’ he explains. To date, 43 per cent of adults in the UK do not know how many loyalty points they have and 20 per cent have never ever checked. Suddenly, Kanji’s admission that ‘the global loyalty industry is broken’ makes an awful lot of sense.
Loyalive is a free iOS and Android App for both businesses and consumers. The latter will no longer have to produce a faded, dog-eared card from the depth of their wallet in order to collect points or receive a complimentary coffee. The app stops them from going to the competitor next door after forgetting that they are owed their tenth beverage free of charge.
This, reasons Kanji, is the problem: ‘Consumers just don’t understand the value of the points and rewards they have accumulated. Seventy-three percent of adults might be signed up to the number one loyalty scheme, but they’re not all shopping there. If Aldi are selling the same brands as Sainsbury’s at a lower price, they’ll go there’. He references Qantas, saying that upon discovering the value of his points, he was inclined to purchase a flight from them even if it’s cheaper elsewhere, purely because he values the ability to further enhance his rewards. It’s evident what he is saying: businesses will benefit hugely from rewarding customers.
‘In our first three weeks alone, we’ve had over 10,000 users start tracking in excess of 60 million points, and we’re only just getting started’
‘Everything is in one place and all your points are clearly seen,’ demonstrates Kanji, showing me the vivid app on his iPhone. The very first app of its kind, Loyalive lets you view your live balance and rewards – and use them. ‘We currently have the top 130 UK and worldwide brands but will be adding more each month. You can also add cards we don’t fully support yet. If lots of people are adding it – we will too.’
The concept of Loyalive is so convenient, that it seems incredulous that it has only just made its debut. ‘It’s simple on the outside but complex in the middle’, Kanji says. ‘ We’ve pushed well ahead of the existing offerings and addressed a widescale problem that affects everyone. Banks provide you with investment value, why not have an app that provides you with loyalty value?
Banks were, of course, Kanji’s previous area of expertise when he lead the delivery of Banking apps for Lloyds, TSB and Citi. B2B to B2C has been an ‘interesting journey’ and very different to that of Apptivation, he confirms. ‘It’s been refreshing in lots of ways; I am the master of the product. I’m learning lots about consumer marketing and being more responsive to a different type of ‘customer’. I’ve also discovered that you can’t immediately leverage a big brand customer base; you have to build that from scratch.’
Mark Kanji obviously relishes the B2C switch after years of working with ‘a layer’ between himself and the consumer. He recommends ‘agility and insight’ for anyone who wishes to do the same, as well as extensive research. ‘Go out and directly talk to your target users, he urges. My team and I interviewed 2000 people, from students to frequent travellers to Mums and Dads – the vast majority wanted a live loyalty app’.
THE ROADMAP OF LOYALIVE?
‘We’re aiming for 250,000 active users by the end of the year before pushing into the USA where there are over 3 billion active loyalty memberships. We’re working on the Apple Watch and Android Wear apps right now, with some great personalisation and location-based features on the way.’ He adds, ‘Our next feature is going to be a transaction feed which will go beyond just showing points balances and allow you to see where and how you have earned points. And of course we’ll be increasing loyalty programme coverage to improve user experience.’
After sharing that he is about to close a seed investment round, which will no doubt bring legitimacy and endorsement, I have to ask him: what would he ultimately like Loyalive to achieve in the market?
‘I would love to offer our own innovative Loyalty Programme for smaller businesses that further reduces friction for the consumer and provides them with more relevant rewards that they can easily redeem. Our big-picture view involves Loyalive becoming a key player in the worldwide loyalty landscape, covering consumers, retailers and brands throughout the entire relationship – as well as bringing the world of loyalty and it’s rich power of engagement to other key industries.’