InterContinental Hotels (IHG) has released its 2016 Trends Report: Meaningful Membership: Transforming Membership in The Age of I, at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland.
The report challenges brands to engage with consumers in a way that builds Membership Communities, a powerful asset for brands in today's dynamic consumer landscape.
The IHG Trends Report series track the global decline of trust in institutions. This insight is based on a series of related studies spanning a four-year period and involving nearly 40,000 interviews with travellers across the globe.
Fuelled by the growth of social media channels, the 2016 report notes there is increasing demand from consumers to belong to a like-minded community, sharing opinions and insight as they connect around their experience of a brand.
In doing so they also want to maintain their individuality, amounting to what is being termed the "The Age of I" - a desire from consumers to maximise both inclusiveness and individuality.
IHG's 2016 Trends Report highlights how brands can manage this challenge and make membership meaningful for consumers by creating Membership Communities. To do this, brands need to recognise the universal need of the community as well as through personalisation, what resonates with individual members - their likes and dislikes, what they need and when they need it.
The Report identifies a new set of rules, The Essentials for building Membership Communities, to follow in order to create and build meaningful Membership Communities.
These include ensuring brands humanise interaction with their customers.
Dialogue is increasingly digital in today's world, so trust grows when communications with Membership Communities are given a human face. Also important is encouraging members of their loyalty programmes to move up the 'loyalty ladder'.
Richard Solomons, chief executive, IHG, said, "The relationship between consumers and brands requires a new mind-set. In today's digital age, an organisation's interaction with the outside world is more than transactional - it needs an emotional engagement to succeed, stay relevant and most importantly, maintain trust."
Other key findings
There is a big difference between "Signing In" and "Signing On": Signing In is a behaviour, anyone can register or enrol. Signing On creates pride of belonging to the Membership Community. People do not just want to log in. They want to link up. They want a relationship.
We live in a world of now: "One-Think Decision-Making" creates Meaningful Membership as people expect to be satisfied in nanoseconds. If brands do not deliver on their promises quickly, perceptions of quality, leadership and trust can be damaged.
Belonging is a universal need: Members of Membership Communities want to belong to a group that has a bigger purpose. Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives allow members to connect with important issues.
A membership mind-set internally is as crucial: To build a successful Membership Community outside, it is necessary to build meaningful membership inside. A corporate culture which builds a meaningful membership mind-set generates trust in the organisation's brands. In IHG's case this is achieved through a strong focus on training and building a service culture - to the benefit of guests.
The 2016 IHG Trends Report has been compiled in association with IHG's long-time partner, Arcature, and through using its own research and observations as well as a variety of external, third-party sources.