Five Minutes With… Dion Maritz, General Manager Middle East, ICLP

Regional loyalty marketing is slowly becoming more sophisticated, says the general manager of loyalty company ICLP.



How big is the loyalty marketing business in the Middle East and North Africa?

It’s significant – when taking into account all companies operating a loyalty programme in the region and not just agencies like ICLP that offer loyalty marketing services. Companies with sizeable programmes are often set up as an independent department within the organisation and sometimes as a profit centre not only a cost centre. Some operate as a completely separate business. Much has been said in the press of recent of Etihad going down this path.

How does your business operate?

We are a full service marketing agency. As a loyalty specialist business we offer, as services, the expertise and functional capabilities in every aspect of what would be required to design, operate, and enhance a loyalty proposition. The team in Dubai is comprised of functional specialists in each area of loyalty programme management including the likes of data and analytics, partnerships, communications, technology, and membership services.

What are the main challenges faced by the loyalty marketing industry in the region?

Brands need to re-evaluate efforts in the areas that matter most to consumers such as mobile redemptions, instant and flexible rewards, and more tailored and personalised communication.

Consumers in the region hold multiple loyalty programme memberships and are spoilt for choice in the number and generosity of reward programmes on offer. The point at which rewards and benefits no longer provide sufficient incentive and true competitive differentiation for securing customer loyalty is not far away.

How can they be addressed?

Intelligent use of data insights and focusing on the customer experience is important. Brands need to invest more in developing and using customer insight to deliver a highly personal experience and engage in meaningful two way dialogue.

Relative to other markets worldwide analytical techniques and use of loyalty programme customer data is still in its infancy in the region.

There is growing evidence of more segmented and relevant customer communication taking place but the majority of relevant messaging seen is promotional not personal. There needs to be a shift in focus to leverage customer data in a more relationship marketing context.