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Why and how to integrate CSR into loyalty programs?

Facilitating virtuous consumer behavior has become a loyalty lever: for more and more brands, customer marketing is adapting to meet the challenges of social responsibility, and building customer loyalty through a strong and innovative CSR approach.

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is defined by the European Commission as the voluntary integration by companies of social and environmental concerns into their business activities and their relations with stakeholders. The ISO 26000 standard, which establishes guidelines for corporate social responsibility, published on November 1, 2010, defines the scope of CSR around 7 themes:

  • the governance of the organization
  • human rights
  • working relationships and conditions
  • the environment
  • fair practices
  • consumer issues
  • communities and local development.

The response to these issues involves all levels of the company: production, logistics, human resources… In this article, we focus on the links between these issues and loyalty marketing. Customer marketing plays an essential role in the face of CSR issues: it must direct consumption towards products that comply with social responsibility requirements, and more generally, it must encourage responsible consumer behavior.

Concretely, how is this possible? Is there not a contradiction, for example, between the desire to retain consumers and the need to limit overconsumption? Or between the desire to offer products at the best price and local production in the best working conditions?

In reality, marketing is evolving, not only to enable companies to comply with CSR commitments, but also and above all to enhance these brand commitments and actively promote responsible practices in their ecosystem (partners, customers, consumers …). Facilitating virtuous consumption behaviors has even become a loyalty lever: in this article, we study in a concrete way how customer marketing and loyalty programs adapt to meet the challenges of social responsibility, and how customer loyalty can become more effective thanks to a strong and innovative CSR approach.

Animate the customer relationship and build loyalty with eco-responsible rewards

To build loyalty, you have to pamper your customers, and this generally involves loyalty programs offering to reward the best customers. In itself, the reward approach is not called into question by the logic of social responsibility, but it must adapt. Here are 3 examples of customer loyalty rewards in line with CSR.

1. Eco-responsible loyalty gifts

Engie, with the “My Program for Action” loyalty scheme, encourages the reduction of energy consumption, and rewards “performance” with points. These points can be used to order eco-responsible items (sourced by Dékuple): books and games to raise awareness of environmental issues, ecological cosmetics, eco-designed products, equipment to reduce electricity consumption, etc.


2. Reward customers with experiences rather than products

Furthermore, loyalty programs are increasingly offering gifts in the form of experiences. This limits the ecological impact, and these experiences can be chosen to promote certain themes related to CSR:

  • promote well-being, quality of life, social ties:

this is for example the axis chosen by Bouygues Telecom, and implemented by Dékuple for the Happy@Home operation during the confinement in the spring of 2020. The brand has chosen to pamper its customers in this difficult period thanks to experiences of self development

  • The experiences can even consist of “eco-responsible activities”:

experiences and workshops, eco-responsible accommodation, immersion weekends with farmers, but also gestures with a positive impact on the environment…


3. Build loyalty by supporting local purchases

AXA has created a loyalty system based on another CSR theme: local development. Indeed, with Dékuple, AXA launched the AXA ReBons system at the end of 2020: €20 gift vouchers distributed to branch customers, and which can be used at local merchants, professional branch customers. Thus, by building the loyalty of its individual customers (200,000 vouchers distributed), AXA stimulates the local economy (3,200 partner merchants).

Discover the AXA ReBons case study, awarded Gold at the Grand Prix Strategies, CSR category 2021.


Integrating virtuous behaviors into customer marketing and loyalty

In addition to the notion of reward, relational programs are also a strong marketing lever to encourage customers to adopt good purchasing habits, in line with the brands’ CSR commitments.

Here are 4 ways to make a loyalty program a CSR lever.

1. Encourage customers to consume responsibly

Customer loyalty should no longer punctuate with consumer rewards. Changing logic is all the more important as the general public is now very sensitive to environmental and social issues, and increasingly aware of the need to control consumption:

The study conducted in 2019 by Greenflex and ADEME states that 86% of French people would like to “live tomorrow in a society where consumption takes up less space” and that 88% believe that “companies/brands encourage overconsumption”.

  • In the energy sector, Engie has chosen to reward controlled energy consumption.

By controlling their energy consumption, customers earn points (“KiloActs”), which they can invest in projects that promote energy transition.

  • In other consumer sectors (household appliances, cars, etc.), loyalty is increasingly based on after-sales service.

In sectors where production and delivery have a strong environmental impact (production of cars, household appliances, etc.), it is essential to limit the frequency of purchases. However, this leads in absolute terms to fewer sales of new products. However, customer loyalty can be developed, and even reinforced, thanks to after-sales support to maintain, repair or resell the products.

The after-sales customer experience then becomes a central marketing issue: new services and new touchpoints are created, and the after-sales customer journey can also be taken into account in the loyalty reward.

For Darty, for example, customer service has evolved a lot and offers advantageous formulas for repairs.


And even services for “self-repair”: online store dedicated to spare parts, community platform for after-sales service:


2. Encourage customers to donate to associations

Encouraging the generosity of customers is also a way to value them and create a very positive feeling towards the brand. The simplest mechanism to allow this is to offer donation possibilities to associations selected by the brand, with loyalty points. This is what Allianz does, for example, with the Allianz Avantage referral program created by Dékuple with the Leoo solution or even Decathlon, which offers Décat’Club members the opportunity to make a donation with their loyalty points to fight against plastic pollution.


Other relational programs will simply encourage their customers to adopt practices in line with CSR, and facilitate their research. This is, for example, what MGEN offers with its MGEN Avantage program (designed by Dékuple with the Leoo solution), in which responsible activities are integrated, such as solidarity trips. Here, the proposal is at the crossroads between the mission of the program, which is to offer travel or leisure activities, and MGEN’s CSR commitment.



3. Reward virtuous actions

In addition to the possibility of redirecting generosity towards the financing of associations, loyalty programs can also reward virtuous actions or responsible purchasing behavior. The brand can create services that facilitate these actions or behavior, within its own ecosystem and create an incentive marketing device: for example, by also rewarding the purchase of second-hand products, and by creating an additional bonus to the reward of eco-responsible products. This is particularly the case of the Décat’Club loyalty program.


4. Make consumers aware of the issues and associate them with the brand’s commitments

Brands taking CSR initiatives have every interest in not only communicating on these commitments, but also in involving their customers, in offering them the opportunity to invest alongside the brand in its commitment. Brands will thus give additional strength to their commitment, create powerful interactions with their customers, and activate a very positive psychological lever for the customer relationship: the brand provides an answer to the individual’s desire to find meaningful actions. , and thus gain recognition in return.

A very telling example is that of the Yoplait consumer brand Panier. This brand’s commitment to bees is natural and common sense: the product’s recipe depends on fruit, therefore flowers, and therefore bees… This commitment in favor of bees, and more generally of biodiversity, the brand has chosen to share it with its consumers. The brand has thus created with Dékuple the digital platform “Libérons un Monde de Fruits”, in order to disseminate educational content, and to reward the commitment of visitors to relay the messages: consultation, content sharing, sponsorship. Participants earned points for eco-responsible gifts, and above all, the brand undertook to make a donation to the French Observatory of Apidology (OFA) proportional to the points earned collectively.


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