Excuse me while I shift my attention to another one of my loves: clothes - and most precisely, online retailer, ASOS.
Two days ago, ASOS announced that it is ending its A-list programme. For those of you more familiar with network backhaul, cryptocurrency, data centres or CDNs, here's how their A-list programme works. The more an ASOS shopper buys through the online retailer, the more points they get. It's an easy enough concept: reward shoppers for spending money to entice them to spend more money. The A-list programme allowed shoppers to reach different levels (1, 2, 3 and VIP) with each level allowing access to a privilege – discount on birthdays, day passes to press events etc.
For most companies with a similar membership model, the aim is simple: make consumers feel as though they belong to a brand community and they'll be less likely to look elsewhere. So why is ASOS ditching its A-list?
The direct marketing campaign sent by ASOS to announce the news stated that the team would be focusing its efforts on bringing new exciting offers to its shoppers. While some may believe the end of the A-list to be a bad thing (see @Asos_Heretohelp tweets and replies), I can't help but wonder if ASOS is right in its approach.
There’s no doubt that the community/membership approach works for some brands. Take telecom operators for example. Brands like O2 that offer pre-sale access to concerts and theatre shows have a clear advantage over others who don't. For operators, a community approach can be the difference between retaining a customer and losing one. But for a successful online retailer like ASOS - one of the best in the UK when it comes to digital UX and ease of use - I'm not sure their membership model is even necessary.
ASOS wins by demonstrating its ability to meet rising consumer demand for everything right here, right now. The platform offers new products on a daily basis from an ever-increasing number of brands; guarantees same-day delivery in major UK cities for just £9.95 thanks to retail tech provider On the dot (client); and offers regular promotions and discount codes outside of traditional sale periods. But most importantly: ASOS knows its consumers. It speaks the language of its shoppers via its app, its social media platforms and its direct marketing. If I'm honest, I open ASOS marketing emails more than I do from other companies.
The reality is that ASOS has not had to solely rely on its A-list programme to build a successful community model. With so many other online retailers, not to mention an increasing number of bricks and mortar shops turning their attention to digital, ASOS is succeeding by listening to consumer demands and giving us what we want, when we want it (now).
ASOS is proof perhaps that consumers – and granted this may apply to millennials only – don't care about points or feeling like they belong, especially if the brand in question is offering everything they want, at a reasonable price and within a short space of time. This approach won't work for all brands in all sectors but it goes some way to show the power of good technology, an exceptional user experience, efficient marketing that resonates, and a few personalised offers thrown in for good measure now and then.
Like good PR, this is about finding your USP and ensuring it makes a difference. ASOS can afford to lose the community element. Can your brand say the same?