2014 SXSW Interactive Session Spotlight: Loyalty Is Dead. Long Live Loyalty

Written by Megan Simpson | February 27, 2014

Drew Lewis discusses brand loyalty at SXSW 2014

Drew Lewis has worked in marketing and advertising for 10 years on loyalty and rewards programs for Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards, Hilton Honors, Disney, Oakley, Shell, and My Coke Rewards. This March, he’ll deliver his Core Conversation “Loyalty Is Dead. Long Live Loyalty.” to the SXSW Interactive audience. In this installment of the Session Spotlight, he discusses the role that rewards play in consumer loyalty.

SXSW: Tell us more about the idea behind your SXSW Interactive Core Conversation on loyalty.
Lewis: We’re experiencing a shift in what loyalty means in today’s world. Given the changing dynamics, transparency offered through technology, and big data insight, there is an insane imbalance between obsessive customer acquisition and negligent customer retention. We will focus not on the problem but the solution to this paradox, re-evaluating what loyalty means in today’s world. This will not be an average, passive learning session. Attendees will be part of the solution, using interaction to drive knowledge, understanding and definition. A collaboration of voices that can influence what loyalty means in today’s socially driven environments. Together, we can #changeloyalty.

SXSW: Who else is joining you for this session?
Lewis: Josh Forstot is the other speaker for the Core Conversation. Josh is the Chief Production Officer at Checkd.in. A versatile blend of Creative, Strategist, Technologist and Entrepreneur, with over 15 years of experience in creating data-driven products for some of the most recognized brands in the world, Josh has successfully lead product development and innovation across a variety of industries, including entertainment, pharma, travel, and digital advertising. Prior to joining Checkd.in, he had developed rich interactive multichannel experiences for both national and global clients, including A&E, Adobe, AEG Worldwide, American Express, AVON, Disney, Dove, FOX, Gigya, Kraft, Macy’s, Nike/Nike 6.0, NOKIA, Panasonic, Red Bull, Shell, Sony Music, TaylorMade, Thales, Toyota, Universal Music Group, Viacom, and Wendy’s, to name a few. He is bringing his digital expertise to our SXSW session to showcase how loyalty is built in today's digitally driven environment.

SXSW: What kinds of people will want to attend this session?
Lewis: I hope anyone who is implementing a loyalty/rewards program, or is having trouble keeping loyal customers, would welcome the opportunity to attend this Core Conversation. I believe it will be beneficial to big brands, agencies, PR lovers, digital gurus, data nerds, and anyone who wants to be part of the solution to redefine the future of loyalty.

SXSW: Why should SXSW attendees come to this Core Conversation?
Lewis: Our Core Conversation about loyalty is a hot topic. Studies show that an average household is enrolled in 22 loyalty programs. The dynamics have changed. Consumers are in charge, and companies and brands are constantly trying to find the new value exchange for their loyalty/rewards programs. Consumers are overwhelmed with false messages and underwhelmed once they identify and demonstrate their loyalty, left feeling unappreciated for their engagement. We’ll explore the role “experience” will play in creating emotional connections that transform perceptions into deeply held beliefs. We aim to redefine loyalty for the future.

SXSW: What about SXSW registrants who don’t know much about your topic - will they be able to follow your conversation?
Lewis: Loyalty programs and rewards programs are everywhere, and just about everyone is participating in a loyalty program of some sort (or 20). So, yes! Anyone can contribute to this conversation. We also launched a website for those wanting to join in the conversation. They can visit TheLoyaltyExperiment.com powered by Newscred and read up on the latest news and thought leadership on the topic of loyalty. Engaging with the site as well as having working knowledge of your brand’s marketing strategy and consumer relationships will greatly enhance what you take away from our discussion and what you can contribute to our mission.

SXSW: What’s the best article or Web post that you have read in relation to this topic?
Lewis: I recently read a great article in Marketing Magazine that lays out the problems of today's loyalty programs very bluntly and simply.

SXSW: Do you also blog? If so, where can our registrants find your work?
Lewis: I do have a blog. It's on my website. It's updated every so often with inspiring and creative things I find while roaming the Internet. It also includes thought leadership pieces on events I attend.

SXSW: How do you stay up-to-date with news and current developments in your area of expertise?
Lewis: Twitter is an invaluable resource for me to stay up-to-date with news and current developments. I follow lots of advertising magazines and agency and brand leaders. I'm a fan of all things NPR, including Pop Culture Happy Hour, This American Life, and Science Friday. I’m addicted to Neil Degrasse Tyson's Star Talk podcast and TED Talks.

SXSW: So where can we follow you on Twitter? What do you usually tweet about?
Lewis: My Twitter handle is @drewlewis. I tend to tweet about nerd topics such as movies and pop culture, mixed in with life events and witty comments about the state of advertising today. You can catch Josh @forstot tweeting about tech, digital marketing and other topics as well.

Watch this website for more installments of the 2014 SXSW Interactive Session Spotlight. Click here for the complete list of programming for March in Austin. For tips on interesting sessions to attend, visit the new Recommendation page. Register now to attend “Loyalty Is Dead. Long Live Loyalty.” and other incredible programming at SXSW Interactive 2014.