Loyalty is a great quality to have, and brands seem to agree with this. And one of the easiest ways to build loyalty among your customers is through rewards programs. The market is competitive and there are many brands out there trying to stay on top.

In this case, loyalty will keep the customers connected to your brand and at a distance from any of your competitors. Looking back, it’s safe to say that rewards programs have been around for at least decades – and they don’t plan on going anywhere either.

What’s a “rewards program”?

Also known as a loyalty program, a rewards program offers you different perks based on the purchases you make or different actions you take. As a buyer, you can benefit from additional discounts, pre-access to products upon their launch date, two items for the price of one, or even free products.

In order to be added to a rewards program, a customer usually provides the company with personal information and in exchange, is provided with a unique identifier number (online) or a membership card that can be used both online or in shops. Rewards programs have been designed to attract customers, as well as keeping them. Shortly, being loyal to a specific brand brings you certain rewards.

Each of us has at least one rewards program in mind when we think about it. But there are certain brands out there that have run successful rewards campaigns and are known for them.

Read below if you want to know more about their programs:

Successful Retail Rewards Program 

1. DSW VIP – Retail Footwear Rewards

Image credit: LinkedIn

DSW was founded in 1991 and has become a key player in retail footwear. The combination of great shoes and small prices have kept customers coming back, but it’s not the only thing. DSW is also known for its great rewards program, which underwent a change in 2019.

The principles are not at all complicated, this loyalty tier program offering incentives such as free shipping, based on the purchases made by the customers. Taking action is also rewarded by DSW – donating gently worn shoes once a week stands for a good cause and points added to your account. Prioritizing a human-centered design, DSW has managed to increase its sales and still keep it simple.

2. IKEA Family – Birthday rewards, Discounted prices, and even free coffee!


IKEA no longer needs an introduction, as the name rings a bell to most people. Advertised as the “club that brings your ideas to life”, IKEA also puts the accent on the idea that this is not an exclusive club, but rather a family for everyone.

The members of IKEA’S loyalty program have access to discounted prices on different IKEA products, as well as birthday surprises. The IKEA family idea doesn’t stop there, though, as it offers its members access to inspirational workshops and different events on their platform.

And quick, answer this – what’s the first thing you do when a family member visits your house? You offer them something to drink, such as a cup of tea or coffee.

Strengthening the family bond, being a member of the IKEA family also brings you a free hot drink of choice in the restaurant whenever you visit.

3. Office Depot VIP – Furniture & Equipment Benefits Program


Saving money isn’t something you’d say no to, and Office Depot knows that. As a leading provider of business services, products, and digital workplace solutions, Office Depot also needed a strong loyalty program.

Their VIP tier is concentrated around the idea of savings. Thus, the members of their rewards program benefit from exclusive savings, as well as bonus rewards on spending.

Creating an account is free, and their benefits also revolve a lot around the number 2. You get 2% back in rewards on supplies, furniture, and technology, as well as on reviews and on recycling your ink and toner cartridges. Unlocking the VIP level can also bring their customers exclusive perks, as well as 5% back in rewards and more.

4. The North Face VIPeak Rewards Program

Image credit: The North Face

Launching in 1966, The North Face brand has stuck to its fundamental mission: providing the best gear for athletes and explorers, while supporting the preservation of the outdoor environment and inspiring exploration. Free to join, the VIPeak rewards program has been attracting the attention of customers just as much as the brand. Their VIPeak Rewards program allows customers to be the first ones to hear about new collections, special offers, or different events.

Based on the made purchases, customers can earn points and collect different rewards. The earned points can also be redeemed in the form of discounts on future purchases. Purchases aren’t the only element that will earn you points though. Exploring National Parks and Monuments, as well as The North Face stores and Outlets in the US can also bring you points. And speaking about being environmentally friendly, bringing your own bag while shopping in-store is also a point earner.

Add to that the fact that customers can easily understand how the program works, as they have all the needed information on the developed mobile app, and you’ve got something cooking!

5. LEGO VIP Program – Play Well (For Everyone!)


LEGO is an enticing word, regardless if you’re a child or an adult. And their program has been built on the principle of inclusion as well. Called the LEGO VIP Program, it is described as suitable for everyone, as everybody is considered a VIP. Their program can be considered a points-based rewards one, and the rewards are all diverse.

Starting from gifts, up to promotions that are available only for members, there’s a little bit of everything in their program. Customers are also different, and the segmented reward is a fine touch-up of LEGO – certain customers can receive certain rewards.

Not to mention, the exclusivity of some of the rewards – you have specific rewards that can be found only on their platform.

6. NIKE Membership (and app!)

NIKE is an advocate of a healthy lifestyle and thus, has implemented this idea in their loyalty program. The Nike Membership program allows repeat engagement. Why?

Becoming a member of their program gives members access to training apps that allow them to reach their goals. Each time a user reaches a certain threshold, the app rewards them with badges. Members can also track their progress and get rewards in exchange.

Now, read these reasons again and think about the following thing – there are moments when you succeed and this can be mentally linked to something, which in the case of Nike, could be The Nike Run Club. This link is great for customer loyalty and engagement, as there is a certain degree of attribution given to this brand.

Of course, the membership also includes special product offers for members.

7. Vitamix Rewards

Image credit: Vitamix

Having your rewards campaign used as a driver for the customer is usually the way to go. But in the case of Vitamix Rewards, the platform was used as a driver for a health campaign.

Their program offers different rewards for purchases and online activities undergone by their members. The earned points can be traded for different items, such as accessories, products, and more.

Food & Beverages

8. Starbucks Rewards

Starbucks has taken the concept of points to the next level and made them their own: instead of receiving the so-called “points”, customers receive stars based on how much they spend inside the Starbucks Rewards program. Not only is it an interesting take on the concept, by making them their own, but it is also a fun and effective way of catching the attention of customers. Starbucks stars can be obtained based on the purchase of items that are different from cups of coffee, such as merchandise for example.

And you only need 25 Stars to start redeeming them for different products. Being a member can also earn you free coffee, as well as birthday treats. You can also order and pay ahead.

9. Nando’s Chilli Point – Keeps People Coming Back

Nando’s can be considered one of the most popular examples when it comes to customer rewards. That can also be attributed to their Chilli Point and outstanding platform, which makes you want to be a part of what they have to offer.

If you ever thought that there is no such thing as a free meal, Nando’s can prove you wrong. As advertised, getting a Nando’s card can earn you rewards and bring you rewards that can turn into free PERi-PERi. Their system is not complicated and all you need to do to earn a Chilli Point is to visit them or place your order online and spend over 7 pounds. As soon as you’ve gathered 3 Chilli Points, you can redeem your first reward.

As the rewards are easy to obtain and they also don’t require large intervals, Nando’s has put together a successful rewards system. And it also keeps people coming back.

10. Dunkin’ Donuts – DD Perks Loyalty App Success

Dunkin’ Donuts is a famous donut and coffee shop, and their Dunkin’ app is #9 in Food and Drink on the App Store and 5,000,000+ installs on Google Play. Dunkin’s DD Perks rewards program is also linked to this mobile app: the DD Perks include free drinks and bonuses to those who register and download the app, as well as different visits to their store.

Following a simple, yet effective tactic, Dunkin’ Donuts has managed to keep most of its customers by offering a convenient app that also includes a payment gateway. Customers also receive points based on their purchases and get to order on the go.

11. Grubhub Perks – Order and Get Rewards

It might sound unusual or new for a takeout delivery service to have a rewards program. But being something out of the ordinary, it sticks with you. Grubhub’s rewards program is based on free perks, and customers can redeem any ongoing offers. These offers can range in prices up to 400$ in free food.

As a takeout delivery service, Grubhub’s program is also a great way to promote partners’ restaurants. This promotion can introduce customers to places they have never tried.


12. Dr. Brandt Rewards – Skincare Beauty

A Dr. B. VIP knows that skincare is the first step to anything involving beauty. This company’s rewards program follows some simple principles that keep the customers and allow them to take action as well.

From referring a friend, up to reviewing a product or signing up for the newsletter, each action brings a certain amount of points. These points can be used to redeem rewards and have no expiration date. Add to that the fact that you can earn double points for every spent dollar on promotional days or on signaled products, and you’ve got the recipe for greater customer engagement.

13. Sephora Beauty Insider


Sephora’s program is not just a rewards program, as it is also a community. As a rewards program, it follows the principles of earning points and later exchanging them for gifts. As a community, though, it allows its customers to ask different beauty questions, share different looks and talk about different make-up and skincare routines.

Having the element of rewards and the element of community combined, Sephora has allowed its customers to have a better engagement with the brand and its values. In the end, beauty gurus don’t just look for gifts – they want to share their beauty gifts with the rest of the world.

14. Lancome Elite Rewards – Rewards for all Purchases!

Lancome’s program follows the principle of keeping it simple, yet effective. As a member of the Lancome Elite Club, all purchases are rewarded. If you spend 1 dollar, you get 10 points in return.

The awards aren’t tied just to purchases, though, as there are also other actions that can be taken in order to bring customer points. Writing product reviews is another way of obtaining points, as well as referring new Elite Rewards members.

15. ULTA – ULTAmate Rewards 

One of the most popular American chains of beauty stores, ULTA came up with one of the ultimate rewards programs. Called the ULTAmate Rewards, their rewards program contains multiple features starting from birthday rewards, up to points earned based on purchases.

One of the most important aspects of this program is the fact that points can be “spent” just like money. Thus, there is no need to redeem them in the form of rewards. There is a catch, though – these points need to be spent before a certain date, as they have an expiry date.

Another element of ULTA’s rewards program is its loyalty tier. Once customers reach a certain threshold, they can obtain more points and no longer have to spend their points up to a certain date.

16. Smashbox – Smashcash Rewards for Makeup 

Smashbox is one of the most popular makeup brands on the market. Their rewards program, called Smashcash, does exactly what the name says: you spend money, and you get that money in return. When customers sign up, they instantly receive 50 points, and the good news is that the earned points can be used like cash.

Registered members can benefit from gifts, exclusives, and other discounts too. Smashbox has also applied different membership levels to their rewards program: Fab, Fierce and Fearless. Depending on how much members spend, they can hit different levels and thus, access different perks.


17. Marriott Member Benefits

Image credit: Marriott

The Marriott member status can be easily described as anything but basic. Having the status of a member means that you can earn and redeem, as well as enjoy exclusive benefits at the Marriott hotels across the world.

The awards can also be personalized, based on the personal preference of each member. From free in-room Internet access to free hotel nights, there is something for every member.

18. Azerbaijan Airlines Program – Prolonged Expiry Period

The Azerbaijan Airlines Program can bring travelers different perks, depending on how much they spend in a shorter amount of time. For example, by spending more in a shorter time, they can get access to early boarding or different luggage allowances.

This kind of program is effective especially since it allows engagement with travelers who fly frequently and spend more money for a smaller number of flights.

The points that can be used in the program can be earned through different methods, and here the flight direction or the price of the tickets can be mentioned. The points can also be obtained by using partner services.

19. Airbnb Referral Program

Airbnb is one of the preferred alternatives for travelers, as it’s sometimes cheaper and more convenient for them than a hotel. Airbnb used an email campaign to introduce its audience to a new program that had been launched and was based on referrals.

If you made a referral, you’d get a discount of a certain amount (25$) for your next trip. In the beginning, we mentioned that their program was introduced through an email marketing campaign, and its success is based on the message that followed the presentation of the program. According to this message, referring someone was encouraged as it was viewed as an act of love for the other person.

Not long after, there was an increase not only in bookings but also in sign-ups. This program allowed them to create awareness and also managed to include other people as well, not just the ones who were receiving the emails promoting the program.

Email and cloud service

20. Mailbird Referral Program – with full Business License

Mailbird’s program allows users to invite friends, contacts, or colleagues in order to try the software. And there is a catch: in case there are 4 or more people who install Mailbird themselves, the person who invited them gets a Mailbird Business Pay Once license-free 100%. This, taking into consideration the fact that the license normally costs 399$.

Why is this rewards program effective? More people sign up and it doesn’t even require inviting numerous people. 4 or more people can get you in return a license for free.

21. Dropbox – Famous Referral Program

Dropbox launched a rewards program that was based on referrals. Thus, both the referrer and the referee each got 500MB of space on Dropbox. As an end result, there was a spike in the number of users opting for Dropbox, the numbers ranging in millions.

Dropbox’s program was successful and of great aid in terms of reviews, which also showed in the numbers of users who joined. When people refer something to their friends, colleagues, or family, it means that they trust the product or the service. Word-of-mouth, but in a digital format, can propel a business.


Coming up with and putting together a rewards program is exciting, and finding that perfect pitch for your customers is even better. Depending on the brand and on the industry, some rewards programs might work, while others might need a little bit more work.

Either way, adding a rewards program to your brand is a great way to engage with your existing audience, as well as to attract new ones. We hope this article provided you with a few important insights into how rewards programs work based on the industries and other elements.

If you’re interested in boosting your word-of-mouth marketing strategy, check out ReferralCandy and InfluencerCandy!

Ovi Negrean is the CEO and Co-Founder of SocialBee.io, one of the friendliest social media management tools on the market. Throughout the years, Ovi and team have helped numeroussmall businesses, by helping them reach their marketing goals through customer-driven articles and social media content. Tweet him at @OviNegrean



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