H&M has launched a two-tiered loyalty program in the U.S., the 17th market out of 72 globally where the fast-fashion retailer operates, though some details differ across areas. As part of a larger partnership with blowout chain Drybar to include events at select H&M locations this fall, signups get 20% off a Blowout or Dry Style service, honored at all U.S. Drybar locations nationwide.
"Member" status includes a sign-up offer (through May 29) of 20% off an entire purchase plus special deals through the H&M app; points for every dollar spent; and personalized offers including 25% off an item on birthdays, special "Member Days," bonus points on certain merchandise, shopping events, digital receipts and free shipping for online purchases over $40.
Once a "Member" earns 500 points they are shifted into "Plus level," which unlocks free shipping, unspecified events and special access to limited collections, according to a company press release.
H&M's loyalty program was launched in 2017 and, before this U.S. debut, had garnered more than 35 million members, Kate Ormrod, lead retail analyst at GlobalData Retail, said in an email to Retail Dive earlier this year. In the relatively few areas where it's offered, the program "helps H&M to stay top of mind in a competitive market," she said in comments on the company's most recent quarter. "With plans to launch an upgraded version, it would be sensible for H&M to offer a premium paid-for option in the UK elevating free delivery to next day, akin to ASOS Premier."
The scheme is fairly run-of-the-mill in most respects, according to retail analyst Natalie Berg, founder at NBK Retail. "The membership program is pretty conventional in that it's a points-based scheme designed to encourage repeat [customers]. But I think the notion of shoppers chasing trivial and often unquantifiable points is outdated, particularly in apparel where shoppers are never loyal to one brand," she told Retail Dive in an email. "Instead of the ‘more you shop, more you earn' concept of loyalty, retailers should focus on providing a compelling experience through personalization and convenience. H&M's new scheme touches on this and the delivery perks without a membership fee will certainly help to drive adoption."
H&M's late entry into loyalty "could be a great idea or a distraction," according to Jonathan Treiber, CEO of marketing platform RevTrax. "A loyalty program holds the promise of increasing trip frequency among a segment of customers, but the program has to truly differentiate from the myriad programs out there by competitors if they have a hope of adoption," he told Retail Dive in an email. "With so many programs out there, it's really hard to stand out with a unique loyalty offering. What will differentiate H&M among its competitors isn't a loyalty program but rather continued innovation around the customer experience and affordable and attractive product assortment."
One element that does stand out is the tie-up with Drybar, which Berg notes rival Primark is doing in the U.K. "So interesting to see fashion retailers tapping into experience, and H&M is clever to tie that into its loyalty scheme," she said. But what's missing in the U.S. is also notable. "In the UK, I recently noticed that H&M is taking a leaf from Amazon's book and offering preferential pricing for its loyalty members," she said, adding that she saw fit to tweet about that recently. "Funny they're not offering that in the US but my hunch is they'll test quietly and if successful roll out to more markets. Pretty bold move!"
But H&M may be mangling an opportunity to capitalize on the recent strides it's made in sustainability by showing loyal customers that it's evolving beyond its fast-fashion approach, Berg also said.
"The days of throwaway fashion are numbered, and H&M has made fantastic progress in addressing our culture of waste," she said. "Why not build a loyalty scheme around this? They already offer rewards for donating old clothes in store and in-store workshops where you can learn to mend clothes. Why not make those exclusive to loyalty members? I think that would be far more effective than saying to shoppers, ‘hey, come in and buy 6-7 pairs of jeans and we'll give you $5 back'. After all, the key to driving loyalty is understanding what your customers value."