Three Approaches to Designing a Global Loyalty Program

loyalty program design

Designing a domestic loyalty program is no small feat. Crafting a vision for membership is a commitment, requiring months of careful planning and synchronization across the business. Add in other geographical regions, and while the task of loyalty program design becomes more exciting, it also becomes infinitely more complex. 

When designing a global loyalty program, there are three approaches to consider—which approach you take depends on your long-term loyalty strategy and business goals. 

  • Approach 1: Every region runs a unique program. 
  • Approach 2: A regional program is expanded to global markets. 
  • Approach 3: A global program is designed from the outset. 

Approach #1: Every Region Runs a Unique Program 

This approach relies on individual regions to design, build, and run their own program instances. Little to no guidance or oversight is provided from a central authority, which means that program features, benefits, and rules will vary by region. Essentially, individual regions will build their own versions of loyalty program from the ground up. This approach is best for smaller scale organizations launching programs in regions where customer tastes and preferences differ greatly. However, this approach risks creating disparate member experiences that don’t tie back to the overarching brand. 

Approach #2: A Regional Program Is Expanded to Global Markets 

The second approach uses a regional program—typically the region where the first instance of the program was launched—as the foundation (or blueprint) for a program which is rolled out to regions worldwide. Guidance for running the program is provided by the foundational program team who sets the guidelines and rules of operation. This team will provide oversight to the regions on larger programmatic and structural components as they localize smaller, specific features and benefits of the program to make it relevant and meaningful for customers in each geography. This approach works best for centralized organizations with strong governance processes and a collaborative team culture. Organizations that lack this structure will struggle to deliver a cohesive program experience across regions. 

Approach #3: A Global Program Is Designed from the Outset 

The final approach is to plan for global scale from the outset. This includes considering an international audience, their varying preferences, worldwide regulations, and more. This approach requires generous planning and coordination of global stakeholders to ensure all geographies and customers are represented from the outset. It also requires meticulous examination of KPIs and technology to ensure that, ultimately, individual geographic performance can be consolidated into a holistic global program report. This approach works best for organizations with a strong global brand footprint and executive commitment to loyalty. The risk in this approach is being too rigid with the design and not allowing for flexibility in regional differences. 

Which Approach Is Right for You? 

To be sure, there is no “right” or “wrong” approach. The best approach depends on your business, business goals, and program goals.  

Successful global programs have consistent foundational elements while allowing for the right balance of local modifications. As a guidepost, we aim for about 80% consistency with the original program, and 20% localized to the region. This breakdown ensures a consistent global program experience while giving regional experts the autonomy to localize where it matters. Ultimately, the “right” approach will be the one which balances brand consistency and closely resonates with your local target audience. 

Key considerations for determining the approach that best fits your business: 

  • The “primary” program will lay the foundation for other regions. 
  • The extent of the global reach of the program and brand. 
  • The governance and collaboration process of global and regional teams. 
  • Understanding the customer experience, wants and needs in different regions. 
  • The company’s global technology posture and loyalty program integration. 
  • Size and scale of the organization and program

What global approach is your company considering? Connect with our loyalty strategists to schedule a consultation today. 

Read our companion article to find out how to successfully implement your global loyalty program.


Meg Tronquet

Principal, Integrated Loyalty Solutions


Lindsey Trimmer

Associate Manager, Strategy

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