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      4 min read

      Rewarding Consumers: Monetary Vs. Virtual Compensation

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      What are the different types of rewards your company offers to consumers?  Is it points, miles, discounts, badges, stamps, cashback or something else altogether?  Most brands view rewards as levers, and utilize them to drive behavior, typically they are used to increase sales and create buzz.

      Companies construct rewards by looking at the depth of the consumer’s commitment.  In highly social communities virtual rewards take on even more importance.  We hear the term virtual, associated with so many different types of products.  We sometimes take this term for granted, we think we know what it means.

      Physical Vs. Virtual Rewards

      A new report finds employees are embracing virtual rewards at a growing rate.  According to research by motivation firm Make Their Day!, and gamification platform Badgeville, 70% of workers say that rewards that were meaningful to them did not have a specific dollar value. This number is up from 57% six years earlier, a 13 point increase.

      Engagement, gamification and loyalty/reward solution providers are now using human physiology to increase interaction, gain market share and virtually compensate consumers.

      At the recent GSMA NFC & Mobile Money Summit in New York City I had the opportunity to attend a session which included Mr. Richard H. Harris, CEO of Ensygnia. In his presentation Richard shared the fact that the neuron concentration in your brain, commomly known as the amygdala does not have the ability to discern physical from the virtual rewards that it receives.

      Depositphotos 13282370 l resized 600

      According to Wikipedia: The amygdalae are almond-shaped groups of nuclei located deep and medially within the temporal lobes of the brain in complex vertebrates, including humans. Shown in research to perform a primary role in the processing of memory and emotional reactions, the amygdalae are considered part of the limbic system.

      In the aforementioned study the findings indicate that 83% of employees feel that recognition for contributions is more fulfilling than strictly monetary or tangible rewards. Additionally, 71% said the most meaningful recognition they have received had no dollar value.

      I think everyone can agree that the notion of privacy is changing- the amount of digital content, and what information people are willing to share. You have to be a good data citizen. It puts a moral onus on you as a company to use the information responsibly.

      Brand, Product and Customer Loyalty

      Brands have to be transparent and have to find out how much your customers want exposed. Connectedness and the opportunity for discovery are key. There has never been a group of consumers more connected than today's social and mobile customers. The teen generation will give up a lot of info even if they aren’t sure who or what they are giving it up to.

      Think about products like the American Express Black Card – having it is the primary motivator, it is it’s own motivator. Owners of it probably don’t know what the card privileges are, the financial value or any other details. They just want to own it and possess it.

      Now social networking allows such rewards to live outside the wallet. Status and reputation are a 10 to one leveraged reward. If you paid me for it, it’s worthless. The more social visbility the more these status rewards have value.

      Driving long term loyalty is not totally effective. If it’s all about jumping through the hoop to get the dollar, that’s easier to turn off than the drive for approval and status. Consumers are suffering from badge fatigue. It cannot be a part of a fixed ratio rewards schedule. Facebook, Social Media, Like, Consumers

      Serendipitous rewards– like an airline upgrade model is random and ultimately very effective. It seems consumers are not concerned with just financial rewards, they want the accollades and social recognition.

      Feelings of self-worth, belonging, remuneration and viability seem to be more rewarding, more public and therefore seem to have a greater attraction than a few dollars or a discount.

      Understanding the cause and effect of these behaviors and configuring reward programs around this new information can result in highly engaged consumers, stronger advocacy and more loyal customers that can benefit your brand and turbocharge your brand's growth.

      Brands can easily get started with digital rewards, gamification and other digital strategys. m-ize Smart Blox provide turnkey solutions without a large capital expenditure. Our cloud platform and smart services provide pay-as-you-grow pricing with low monthly subscription costs.

      Request Complimentary Demonstration & Assessment

      Your brand will realize greater levels of customer satisfaction, increased revenue and accelerated customer engagement. Contact us today for a complimentary demonstration and personalized assessment.

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      Bruce Burke