Will stock ownership work as a loyalty program perk?
The North Face, online retailer Kogan and meal kit provider Marley Spoon are among the many brands that recently began rewarding customers for their purchases with fractional shares of their stock.
The stock rewards program is made possible through a partnership with fintech start-up Upstreet.
Consumers sign up to the Upstreet app, link their bank account and start shopping for their favorite brands. Upstreet tracks and rewards purchases with fractions of shares in those companies. The payouts typically range from 0.75 percent to three percent of their order’s value in fractional shares, depending on whether they are new or existing customers.
For non-publicly listed companies, members earn shares in an Exchange Traded Fund (ETF), which is a basket of stocks exposed to a specific theme.
One goal of the Upstreet plan is to get people more comfortable with investing in equity markets. Founder and CEO Chris Eckelmann also believes stock ownership drives loyalty better than typical cash back programs.
He told BrewNews the idea came to him after seeing diminishing returns on frequent flyer miles. “Cash back doesn’t really drive loyalty we believe — you might go there because you get cash back, but you will go to a competitor if they offer more,” Mr. Eckelmann said.
Upstreet’s traction was helped by the success in the U.S. of Bumped, a stock rewards app that raised $10.4 million in a funding round last November.
An independent study from The Columbia School of Business, published in February, looked at Bumped’s two-year pilot with a number of retailers and restaurants, including Target, McDonald’s, Kroger, Lowe’s and Costco. The study found weekly spending at the selected brands jumped 40 percent once customers were rewarded in fractional shares of stock as part of a stock rewards program. Such schemes were also found to increase visits at those brands and decrease visits at competitors.
Michaela Pagel, a Columbia professor, said in a statement, “People buy brands they care about and we find that there’s a direct link between spending and stock holdings.”
- Big retailers offer small equity stakes to shoppers – The Australian Financial Review
- “Selling itself”: Why loyalty app UpStreet is rewarding customers with shares rather than points – SmartCompany
- Alternative reward model for customer loyalty – BrewNews
- Bumped Raises $10.4M For Program That Gives Equity As Shopping Rewards – Crunchbase
- Owning a Company’s Stock Drives Brand Loyalty and Increases Spending – Columbia University
- Target Customers Spend an Additional $2,200 a Year When They Become Shareholders – Bumped/PRNewswire
- Kroger Customers Rewarded in Kroger Stock Make an Additional Grocery Run, Spend Almost $75 More Monthly – Bumped/PRNewswire
- Lowe’s Increases Category Share of Wallet 24% by Rewarding Customers in Stock – Bumped/PRNewswire
- Study Shows Some Red Robin Customers Double Spend When Rewarded in Company Stock – Bumped/PRNewswire
- Domino’s Shareholders Buy 24 More Pizzas a Year than Non-shareholders, Sorry Competitors! – Bumped/PRNewswire
- Rewarding in Stock Ownership Can Drive 33% Greater Lifetime Value – Bumped/PRNewswire
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What do you see as the benefits and challenges of loyalty programs that link purchases to fractional stock ownership? Do you see this type of loyalty program offering taking off in the U.S.?