Loyalty trends and best practices

The Healthy Benefits of Kate Somervilles Loyalty Program

by Zach Woith
January 27, 2014
The Healthy Benefits of Kate Somervilles Loyalty Program

Leaders in Loyalty shares the insights and experiences of executives who run loyalty programs. In this installment, Matt Bunn, Director of Digital Marketing at Kate Somerville,  talks about the many benefits of the skincare brand's loyalty strategy.

Why did you launch the Ultimate Kate Rewards loyalty program at Kate Somerville?

Our primary goals are email acquisition, customer retention and increased visitor engagement. Skin care and beauty is a competitive landscape, and most of our retail partners — such as Nordstrom and Sephora — offer their own customer loyalty programs. Ultimate Kate Rewards puts our online presence on a level playing field. Also, because we utilize our program to communicate with our most loyal customers, it elevates the overall brand relationship.

Your loyalty program rewards not only purchases, but other activities as well. Can you explain how that drives ROI?

We reward visitors for behaviors that show increased engagement, such as reading reviews, browsing multiple product pages, and watching videos. Since visitors must join the loyalty program to claim rewards, we've seen a jump in email acquisition. This lets us interact with our customers in a more meaningful way than just simply asking for their email address when they land on our home page (which we do as well). Of course, all of these behaviors help to drive future purchases — by the people who perform them and by others — but they also generate value in other ways. For example, we went from 324 product reviews to 3,277 — a 10x jump — in just 12 months. This significant growth of user-generated content benefits our SEO efforts while assisting our visitors in making purchase decisions.

How did you structure your loyalty program’s tiers?

Our top reward was originally a weekend trip Los Angeles featuring an exclusive experience at the Kate Somerville Skin Health Experts Clinic on Melrose Place, which a member could earn when her lifetime purchases reached $10,000. Working with the 500friends Loyalty Strategy team, we decided to revise the program to offer more attainable benefits. To that end, we launched Ultimate Kate Premier, which rewards our most loyal and active customers with free expedited shipping, a higher rate of point accrual, and exclusive gift opportunities. When we introduced the Ultimate Kate Premier tier, average order value (AOV) jumped almost immediately, and purchase frequency also increased. I manned the phones during the holidays, and customers were frequently asking how many more points they needed to qualify for Ultimate Kate Premier. We’re seeing corresponding gains in lifetime value (LTV) and site return frequency, so Ultimate Kate Premier has been very effective.

How else has 500friends helped?

For me, tracking performance is key, and after looking at all the loyalty platforms out there, 500friends offered the most sophisticated dashboard and reporting tools. Those, along with flexible templates, have made it really easy to execute. The 500friends LoyaltyPlus Convert widget, which powers those rewards for non-purchase activities I talked about, opens up all kinds of new ways to engage with customers and visitors. Also, I have a small team, so it’s great when a partner like 500friends guides us through the process and actively participates in the heavy lifting. 500friends feels more like an extension of my team than like a vendor, and that’s really important.

Zach Woith is Director of Loyalty Strategy at 500friends. Email him at


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