I am an early adopter of the “Kauai Coffee Subscription” and I really think it could be the way of the future for many brands. As someone helping another company or two with loyalty, it was in my best interest to see what the Kauai deal was all about. For the uninitiated, you pay R149 for a month of coffee. The coffee must be “short” and it doesn’t strictly have to be coffee – they have a hot chocolate and ‘flu fighter’ type herbal tea that will have you gagging when the cayenne pepper hits the back of your throat. Other rules include, you can redeem two a day, at least two hours apart (no buying for friends when meeting for a coffee, I guess) and they don’t rollover – ie. if I don’t have two today I can’t have four tomorrow. Other than that it’s pretty simple – it’s roughly R2.50 per cup of double shot espresso coffee in a variety of formats, though I always go for the flat white, or cortado.

Where does this leave us? I think it will take South Africa brands a while to get into this type of thing, especially app-based loyalty like this. For me the trick is to make it easy to use, easy to redeem, super easy to know where you stand with your loyalty and not have more than 4-5 basic rules that are easy to grasp and abide by. Have you ever seen those loyalty things that give you 5% off if within 30 days you redeem so and so, with your ID attached, but if you’re over 30, and on mobile, then you need to text your gran, to mail someone on support in Iceland to tell their colleague to update your app to …. you get the point.

Companies. If you ever introduce tech, test it, and ensure that it makes life easier, and not more painful for your customers. It is possible. Tech can change the world positively, and not just waste folks time on Tiktok, IG, and whatnot. Stay tuned for a big business idea in that space from me in years to come; I really think there is opportunity to make a real difference using those platforms, and others, to have good change in places like South Africa. For one, why not have city cameras monitored by volunteers who can spot criminals, and alert a central hub of just 5-6 people?

For two, why not do something similar with traffic lights that sit on red for ages while cars are queueing up? The time wasted by 20 citizens at one traffic light adds up when you multiply it by every traffic light, every day, for years on end.

Those had nothing to do with loyalty, but that is how all my writing goes: down a random rabbit hole, and then at the end I try weave it back into loyalty.

Could ciites have loyalty for their citizens? Could you be a “good capetonian” and get more benefits?

For example a discount on your water bill, free refuse collection, priority service, or other things? I dunno, but maybe the government-run things in the world needs to be more gamified, and more privatised to incentivise us. Comapnies do it to great effect, but what is cities became more like “city states” of yester-millenium and it gets to the point where (with some kind of city wall) you can control your citizens a-la-china but only in positive reinforcement ways. I’d love to reward all the guys who collect random bits of metal and other recyclables and take them for miles in trolleys around our city. Couldn’t we grant them legal trolleys, warm showers, changes of clothes, food vouchers, and other things for their efforts? Rather than just handouts to folk who are not motivated to change or work at all. Anyway, politics and policy, not something I know anything about…

But back to loyalty, as promised, Kauai is great, and so is coffee, and I certainly am incentivised to walk to work to get my “free” (read, very affordable) daily two coffees at Kauai rather than work from home. Nothing like a little caffeine to get me going, and I am sure there are similar “drugs” like sugar, warm showers, and much else that could change citizens or consumers behaviour. I for one have a secret love for airports, and especially the ones that treat you really well. Seoul and Singapore airport being the two that stand out. Both had showers, and the latter a rooftop pool! When I book my next flight to the far east, or Australia, I really consider that tiny thing – those 4-5 hours on your layover – and would easily spend another R1,500 or so to enjoy that over a dismal 4-hour wait in Dubai/Qatar/Something (assuming that it’s not as great – it’s been a while).

So what should a brand do if they want to get into loyalty? What would I do if I was in control of SAA Airways? I’d go above and beyond for my cusomters and think of 100 things to make passengers lives easier and in as many free ways as possible. Sometimes it’s just the feeling of being included (ie. exclusive club), other times it is that “we care” and remembering something from a previous trip, other times it is the forethought ‘oh, they are flying to Bali – let’s tell them the weather there, and five things they should do on arrival, and 10 admin tips, like changing money, cabs, culture etc’.

Often it is really painless to do so, and incredibly rewarding for both the Marketing director, and all customers.