“Vans is not a shoe company. It’s a people company that sells shoes.”
For over half a century Vans has not only been delivering authentic skate shoes for skaters, but apparel that reflects the individual personality and style of riders. Walk down any main street and you will see somebody sporting a pair of Vans.
Primarily a brick-and-mortar retailer, over the past couple of years Vans has embarked on a rapid digital transformation to enable it to gather the behavioral and preference data required to build deeper, more meaningful relationships with its customers. But rather than finding surreptitious ways to collect data, snooping on customers, or inferring what drives them to action it devised its pioneering Vans’ Family loyalty program — the award-winning benchmark for any loyalty initiative and a channel.
We sat down with Frank Neumann, Senior Director of Consumer Lifecycle Management at Vans to discuss the success of the Vans’ Family loyalty program, and what loyalty will look like in the future.
The case for loyalty
As Goliath found out to his peril, with size oftentimes comes a lack of agility. For larger brands, it’s always a challenge to develop a one-to-one relationship with each and every customer that a smaller retailer can with ease.
That’s primarily why Vans developed its loyalty program — to deliver added value to customers and in turn allow Vans to learn more about them. This symbiotic relationship empowers Vans to create better experiences that are tailored to each and every customer.
What sets the Vans’ Family loyalty program apart from its competitors is rather than the all-too-familiar points-win-prizes scheme with discounts and coupons, the program celebrates its fans, giving them access to exclusive products, early releases, events, collaborations and experiences like custom-made gear.
The future of loyalty
In the digital age, every vertical is undergoing a digital transformation of sorts — accelerated by the COVID-19 crisis. A robust loyalty program is a way for brands to effectively realize this.
Vans is traditionally a physical store brand, and still generates the majority of its revenue that way, however, the Vans’ Family loyalty program empowers it to create more meaningful, digital relationships with its customers.
Frank Neumann says, “The whole retail industry is already evolving from earn and burn to experiential loyalty and this will accelerate.” That is the future of loyalty. He goes on to say, “Vans will undergo a global expansion to connect with the wealth of global fans.” The program aims to expand interactive member experiences to deliver better, truer personalization. The more Vans learns about it’s members, the more tailored content and experiences it will be able to deliver.
Why did Vans pick Cheetah Digital as its loyalty partner?
Vans developed a loyalty strategy before looking for the technology to realize it. This wasn’t an accident, Vans wanted to define what the customer experience would be so it could truly measure success, rather than firing an arrow and painting the target around afterwards.
Next, Vans needed a partner that shared its vision and had the technology, expertise, and operational support to bring it life. Enter Cheetah Digital. “Cheetah Digital has a flexible, modern platform that has given Vans a differentiated experience for its customers,” says Neumann.
“The initial integration was fast and very smooth and there was great partnership between the teams to make that happen in a short period of time.”
Vans partnership with Cheetah Digital has been crucial in delivering an extensive and busy campaign calendar for Vans’ Family. Neumann notes, “Cheetah’s in-house team works well with Vans digital products team to enable the experiences that we want to bring to life across channels”
“Since launching in 2018 we have been surprised by the success of the program.”
- Over 12 million unique members
- Almost 50% of direct-to-consumer sales, whether in-store or online comes from Vans’ Family loyalty program members
- Above-average customer satisfaction score
- Members are highly engaged and spend significantly more than non-members
You can watch the whole Vans session right now in our On-Demand Hub.