The Ten Commandments of Trade Loyalty Programs

The Ten Commandments of Trade Loyalty Programs

ContestDigital RewardsEngagementExperiential RewardsInstant GratificationMilestonesPepsiReckitt BenckiserTrade


Although B2B and B2C models have certain practices in common, the main difference between the two is the target audience. In a consumer-centric environment where the consumer is considered the king, evolving times have compelled companies to consider their trade and channel partners, like retailers, wholesalers, electricians and so on, as crucial assets and thereby making a Trade Loyalty and Reward Program important. An effective trade loyalty program helps a brand build a value-driven relationship with their partners and makes them feel motivated which results in higher revenue for the brand.


In the last ten years, we’ve delivered several reward programs for trade and channel loyalty, and gathered best practices, a few of which we’d like to share via this post. So, here are 10 commandments to make your trade loyalty reward program a success.


#1 Thou shalt plug all leakage

One of the first issues that brands complain about when launching promotions or loyalty reward programs for their channel partners is ‘leakage’ to middlemen. Instead of getting the brand to ‘play the prefect’, we believe in designing leak-proof processes for a better loyalty reward program. To quote a live example, one of our internationally recognized trade programs for retailers of Reckitt Benckiser for Itch Guard and Ring Guard, we managed to plug 100% leakage owing to its stupendous success.


#2 Thou shalt pick the right tech. stack

One of the first things we look at when planning a trade loyalty program is what kind of a TG we’re talking to, and after catering to over 30 million consumers, we’ve realized, the tech. stack is different for different target segments and heavily contributes to the success of a program.


#3 Thou shalt spread the word to the last man

In a diverse country like India, last mile communication and inclusion of all partners can become a challenge for a loyalty reward program. However, not addressing this, can lead to a demotivated segment. Planning an omnichannel communication with all segments before the loyalty reward program launch and figuring out what works for different segments is critical. The high level of engagement on WhatsApp, of particular retailers, surprised our client servicing team while delivering a trade loyalty reward program for Pepsi.


#4 Thou shalt deliver instant gratification

It’s not only the millennials and Gen Z who’re crazy about the instant gratification of rewards. Even channel partners like a retailer, electrician, carpenter or wholesaler… only pay attention when there’s instant gratification in any loyalty reward program. With busy schedules, the charm of a reward is lost, if delayed.


#5 Thou shalt grant relevant rewards


Understanding your audience (in this case trade partners) and their behavior is the most important step to reward curation. The example of Indian Olympian, Dipa Karmakar who had to return a BMW gifted to her, is a testimony to the fact, that it’s not just about the price tag of the reward, but also about relevance. Giving a choice, instead of blanket rewarding is always better. In case of a trade loyalty program that lasts longer than three months, we always curate a reward catalog for partners which goes live on the same platform, thus giving them relevant choices and keeping them motivated throughout the program duration.


#6 Thou shalt define behaviours clearly

A loyalty reward and incentive should always be clearly mapped to desired behaviours. This becomes more complex in the case of a program targeting multiple entities. Gamification can be used here to encourage the TG to make progress, step by step and reach the final goal and making the loyalty reward program a success.


#7 Thou shalt engage regularly

Launching a trade program and then putting it on auto-pilot is bound to see a decreasing trend in engagement – just have attractive rewards can’t cut it. In this land of festivals, there are several opportunities brands can use to engage their TG. In addition, other engagements like luck-based games and surveys can be used to measure engagement levels and spread cheer to partners.


#8 Thou shalt be fair and set achievable targets

In any loyalty reward program, finding that sweet spot so that all the partners feel motivated to work towards the target is very important. Setting a target that’s too easy or too difficult, puts users off. A milestone-based approach is always advisable for a loyalty reward program that lasts long.


#9 Thou shalt make it user-friendly

Before launching a loyalty platform or app for your channel, the tech-savviness of the audience should be the basis of the user experience and interface. A certain number trade partners and retailers might not be so comfortable with technology and accessing a portal, and therefore it becomes necessary to first understand the users’ comfort level while running a successful trade loyalty reward program.


#10 Thou shalt speak local languages

With trade partners located in every nook and corner of the country, using regional languages instead of just English, is an often-overlooked factor in any loyalty reward program. While creating an occasion-based promotional campaign for Horlicks during Chhath Puja in Bihar, our offer communication was delivered both in English and Hindi which contributed to the success of this simple promo during the main festive season of the region.


In addition to these ten success factors, there are literally a hundred other nuances that go into planning a trade loyalty program, which becomes more complex with reward integration. Right from an organizational hierarchy, to how the loyalty reward program will integrate with the company’s existing systems to different legalities in the different Indian States.

Don’t want to worry about all this but want to launch a trade loyalty reward program or a sales incentive program? Then talk to our experts, who’ll figure out all this for you and launch a tailor-made program for your channel – that’s motivating, engaging and gets results.


ContestDigital RewardsEngagementExperiential RewardsInstant GratificationMilestonesPepsiReckitt BenckiserTrade

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