J. Crew bets on brand loyalty with new membership program
J. Crew has launched a free, card-less loyalty program, where participants can earn a $5 reward after they accumulate 200 points, at a point for each dollar spent, the brand told Retail Dive in an email.
Members also get free shipping if they order while signed into the retailer's loyalty portal online, as well as access to "personalized offers and events," a spokesperson said.
J. Crew joins Macy's and Target in offering loyalty perks to customers without requiring a store-branded credit or debit card.
J. Crew lost quite a few loyal fans when it departed from its previously classic approach to fashion — and in some fans' eyes skimped on quality. Those issues have in turn decimated sales.
Now it hopes to stoke loyalties with practical perks like points and shipping, something millennial shoppers in particular respond to, according to research from loyalty marketing firm Kobie emailed to Retail Dive. A great majority (78%) of shoppers value access to discounts and a healthy 28% value convenience, more than any other generation, according to Kobie's report. Card-less programs like J. Crew's new loyalty tier cover that on both counts.
In May, Macy's similarly expanded its revamped Star Rewards loyalty program to customers regardless of how they pay, the retailer said in a press release. Customers without a Macy's credit card can participate through a new "Bronze" tier, which offers money off on certain days in addition to other benefits. And Target is testing a new set of perks that wouldn't require signing up for its REDcard.
These are departures from loyalty programs that require store-branded cards, which not only help lock in customers but also provide a stream of income. Amazon and warehouse retailers like Costco, Sam's Club and BJ's lock in their shopper bases with up-front membership fees. But other retailers have relied on credit cards to keep customers close.
Traditionally, card holders enjoy perks unavailable to anyone else. Most (62%) consumers have a store card in their wallets, and 30% have two or more, according to an Ipsos Retail Survey last year from Vyze. And shoppers really do show loyalty to the retailers issuing those cards — 40% say they are more likely to shop at that retailer because of it. Indeed, store cards are so effective that Amazon, Costco and others offer them and their benefits in addition to memberships.
For J. Crew, the move is part of a wider initiative to win back customers, President and Chief Experience Officer Adam Brotman told Fortune. The brand is departing from tradition in other ways, too. Once notorious for focusing on the skinniest customers, the brand is working on inclusive sizing for its fall collection.
Follow Daphne Howland on Twitter