Club Apparel. Leading loyalty program in Arabia - Tomasz Makaruk
Tomasz Makaruk

Club Apparel. Leading loyalty program in Arabia

And another entry from the series, “travel educates”. Operating in the United Arab Emirates, it is impossible to be indifferent towards the Club Apparel loyalty program. Its communication is so intense that even the most ardent opponents of collecting points are not neutral.
Let us take a closer look at it.

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Organizer

Apparel Group is a retailer based in Dubai that operates over 75 brands (such as: Tommy Hilfiger, Charles & Keith, Juicy Couture, Skechers, Nautica, Aldo, Nine West, Aeropostale, etc.), sold at more than 1750 outlets in the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman and Saudi Arabia. Among the partners of the program, we will find the well-known networks of CCC and Smyk.
 

The loyalty program concept

The program’s key visuals, based on black and gold, and reflected on all marketing communications, contains the message “No cards, only rewards.” In fact, membership in the program starts with downloading the mobile application available in App Store and Google Play, and this immediately allows you to use the Club Apparel offer.
The organizer promises that the participants will not be able to take their eyes off of the modern functionalities that the application offers. After downloading it, the Start screen presents animations describing the benefits of participating in the program.

Registration

One must register to use the application. This process starts with a request to enter your phone number. Interestingly, you can enter a number from any country in the world. The drop-down menu first suggests area codes for the Gulf States and the Philippines, Egypt, Pakistan and India (the citizens of these countries are strong represented among workers in the UAE). The menu is then arranged alphabetically from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe. Check boxes to accept the rules and privacy policy (it discusses the scope of collected data, but with no reference to the GDPR) are selected by default. Then, the application sends a code (called the OTP) via SMS, which, when entered, verifies the phone number.

In the next step, the participant is asked to enter the date of birth, which is a portent of additional points offered in two of the three available membership statuses, as well as to set a 4-digit PIN for the application. 10 seconds after completing this, we are greeted by an SMS with wishes for successful purchases, as well as information that the selection of prizes requires giving a wider range of data. An incentive to do so is also included in the application itself, as each participant is assigned to a silver membership level, which offers free rewards already available with zero points balance for completing the form.

Key information for marketing communication, such as the email address, is subject to entering a code, for which the organizer gives you 3 minutes (the application counts down the remaining time). After giving your email address, nationality, country of residence, town (interestingly, the menu of Polish cities includes Warszawa, Kraków, Gdansk [original spelling] and … Other), the application invites you to take a selfie to upload as a profile photo – I think that the GDPR purists would have a lot to say about this. Interestingly, this step cannot be omitted, but fortunately the application was satisfied with photo of skyscrapers outside the window. The next step is to complete the size table.

Curiously enough, the incentive to complete 100% of the participant’s data, in the form of vouchers for free drinks and cakes, as seen in one of the screenshots above, after entering all the data, turned out to be “not available in this territory”.

Program functionalities

The organizers claim that the use of Club Apparel is based on NFC technology. It does not require registration for this in the application, and it is enough to use a phone equipped with proximity technology. Personally, I was not able to check the operation of this functionality, because the retailers in the shops could not explain how the whole solution works.

Apart from the possibility to see the list of brands, points of sale, and watch hundreds of video ads, the application presents 3 levels of membership, based on the cumulative value of purchases. The Silver level is the starting point and offers points with a value of AED 2 for every AED 100 spent (i.e., the base incentive rate is set at 2%). The benefits of membership, apart from the possibility of paying with points for subsequent purchases, are: priority in access to dedicated sales, and invitations to events introducing new collections (that is what we know from the offers of the Polish marketers). The next stage of membership is the Gold level. To get there, you have to make purchases for AED 10,000 in the next 12 months. At this threshold, the incentive rate increases to 3% (for every AED 100, points valued at AED 3 are added). An additional benefit of “being gold” is a bonus of 100 points for your birthday, as well as one day a year of sales at a 5% discount for the participant only. The highest level is Black, with a 5% incentive rate. To be allocated to this segment, AED 25,000 must be spent within the next 12 months.

(a small drink or a sandwich) during your sixth purchase. The same applies to the purchase of ice cream.

An interesting functionality is the ability to track the expiry date of points on the “timeline view”, as well as the discount coupons from individual brands and “brand points” obtained for participation in promotions, commonly known from local solutions from Poland.

Principles and benefits of membership

The scheme is based on the fact that purchases are rewarded with points that are denominated in AED, at the rate of 1 point = AED 1, which can be used for subsequent purchases at all points of sale of the program partners (subject to the restrictions described above for ice cream parlors and bars and restaurants). In addition to shopping, Club Apparel gives points for recommendations to join.

Summary

The available forms of doing business in the UAE force foreign entities which want to sell their products in the territory of Dubai, Abu Dhabi and other cities with relatively lower economic significance, to establish companies in which at least 51% of shares are held by the UAE citizens. This leads to the creation of large distribution groups – retailers who control hundreds of brands. With such concentration in hand, creating loyalty programs is the natural step. Club Apparel is actually very visible in the UAE. Its main functionality seems to be the NFC technology, which I have not managed to use. Besides this, the concept of the program is well thought-out.

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