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Four Tricks to Treating Loyal Customers (and Avoiding a Haunting Oversight)

ADS_Halloween_highresIf ever there were a masked opportunity in loyalty marketing, I’d call it Halloween.

Retailers have been quite clever in scaring up additional sales of candies, costumes and decorations, but few appear to be taking advantage of the role their loyalty programs can play in generating additional sales and follow-up purchases. An informal online search yielded few such promotions, and other than an occasional coupon for candy, I’ve not personally seen anything.

That can be a billion-dollar miss. Americans are projected to spend $7.4 billion on Halloween items this year, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF). More than half expect to spend more on Halloween than they do on Mother’s Day or Father’s Day, according to the 2014 Halloween Happenings Survey by Alliance Data Retail Services. Twenty-two percent of those surveyed expect to spend more this year than in 2013.

That shakes out to about $105 in spending on average per household, according to the survey. A rewards program can help goose that number up and generate future holiday sales, by capturing specific purchase data that help merchants understand what motivates their customers.

Merchants and marketers should ask themselves: Have we considered the link between heavy Halloween “users” and other holiday events like Christmas? Can we analyze customer purchases this year and then use that data to promote earlier activity next year? Or, simply, what relevant communications can we use to engage customers and enable them to understand the next big theme for Halloween?

Here are a few ways loyalty marketing can do the trick to improve sales in 2014 and 2015:

Use Halloween to promote Christmas: Post-Halloween sales can be used to promote pre-holiday purchases. Merchants could do this by offering reward program members double points or discounts on Christmas decorations when they purchase Halloween candy, costumes and other items off the clearance shelf.

Hold candy contests: Retail chains can pursue partnerships with candy manufacturers and host Halloween contests tied to their loyalty programs. If the shopper purchases the bag of candy with the special code, he or she receives a prize, like a $100 shopping trip or $50 in manufacturer coupons. Chances are the winning shopper will end up spending more.

Generate costume ideas early: 62 percent of adults will buy Halloween costumes for themselves this year, according to the Alliance Data research. A reward program can record those purchases and the merchant can send those same customers costume ideas early in September 2015, with a discount as enticement.

Put a howl in Halloween: Halloween is not just for kids and adults. American consumers plan to spend $350 million on costumes for their dogs, cats and other pets, according to the NRF. Merchants can offer reward program members discounts on costumes with pet food purchases or hold social media contests during which the pet costume that gets the most votes wins access to a special in-store event.

There are many additional ways loyalty marketers can help merchants better engage their Halloween customers. With reliable rewards program data they can produce treats that are – unlike that box of raisins – always relevant to the recipient.

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