Loyalty schemes to be offered digital content
White label website offering made available by the first club
It has been a criticism of loyalty schemes for a while that little has been done over the last 15 years to change the type of reward being offered to consumers.
The choice in fact has remained obstinately similar, despite the appearance of a variety of new types of loyalty programme.
There are miles for flights, points to be redeemed against the cost of groceries or goods, special days out, or money back in the purse.
Now a new loyalty proposition is being launched that promises to add some variety to the list by offering digital downloads as the reward of choice.
It is offering loyalty scheme managers the choice of adding digital content as a reward.
As the under-30s choose to buy most of their entertainment (in the form of music and games) as digital content, it is surprising that this initiative has taken so long to come to fruition.
The first club is the brainchild of Denis Huré (right), a Frenchman who despite his accent, has lived for the past 15 years in the UK.
The objective is to offer both a branded rewards website and a white label website to clients who want to add digital content as a reward. Both would operate as a gateway, says Huré, to the entertainment world.
The first club says it is working with major publishers such as Warner Bros, Sony, Paramount, Roxio and Electronic Arts, the first club is able to offer to the end-user a large and varied catalogue that is reflective of each country’s content and culture, with the service currently available in 14 languages. Denis Huré commented: “Every year millions of reward points remain unredeemed. These “orphan points” are terribly costly for companies and unsatisfying for their customers. By having the cost saving alternative option of instantly redeeming reward points via a download rewards scheme, the first club is meeting the demand of today’s savvy consumer and forward thinking brands”.
The first club has been over a year in gestation. It was co-created in September 2009, but it is now offering content in 14 countries from its portal, and operating in multiple currencies.
Huré said: “If someone wants to run a promotion of digital content, or a company wanted to offer a download of music, they can either use the first club portal, or we can add the content to their own website, so the experience is seamless for the consumer.”
Currently first club is offering music and games downloads, together with digital content, but by the end of the year ebooks, digital magazines, films and television series will be added.
Huré says he is finalizing a deal with a hotel chain, and is working with giant loyalty scheme operator Arvato in Germany.
“Technically we operate as an API [application programming interface] and web service provider, so the offering is totally transparent for the loyalty scheme operator,” said Huré. “ White label means it can be used by everyone and we are sure that a large number of the major schemes will want to take part, because they will want to keep up with modern developments.”
When asked how therefore, companies will differentiate, Huré said: “Because companies can blend our service into their own websites, it will then be up to them to differentiate in terms of the type of offer and the redemption value. I predict that increasingly, physical rewards or vouchers will move more towards digital value. It is better in digital.”
The first club is privately owned by a group of investors. A second round of fund raising is due to take place soon. It has offices in the US, France, Germany and the UK, and partners in Spain and Turkey.
First club site review
On first exploration, the first club site is missing a few of the sophistications we are inclined to take for granted from download websites these days. The site does not appear to learn from one’s usage by suggesting downloads, and it is not possible to search by genre or era. While one can choose Music, (or Games) as a category, it is then only possible to search by Album, Artist or Song. As the range of music offered is extensive, this means plenty of scrolling to find appropriate content.
While the majority of the albums are pop, there is some classical content, blues and jazz. A search for blues found over 3,000 albums but it was difficult to sort these further, not even by date of release.
The large amount of German content is testimony to the first club’s level of interest in this country.
The registration process was quite hard work, and insisted on a date of birth which may break the data privacy laws of some countries. It was also necessary to respond to two emails. The first had a non-live link which had to be followed. The second seemed to be a repeat confirmation that activation had taken place.
Spending the points is a little easier, although it is not possible to see what downloads have been made without moving pages. The site crashed on several occasions and a download confirmation email was received for a download that didn’t happen. Possibly all of these are early teething problems.
See for yourself at www.thefirstclub.com