The North Face undoubtedly understands the power of loyalty and rewards programs in increasing customer engagement and sales. To achieve more growth in its direct-to-consumer model, the outdoor and athletic gear brand created its loyalty program, VIPeak to enhance its relationship with customers. Seeing its numerous benefits and assessing some of its drawbacks over the years, the company decided to rebrand its rewards program by improving its structure and changing its name to XPLR Pass in April 2021. The new name and replacement reflect the brand’s resolve to give customers the best exploration gear and customer experience.
This post delves into how the new XPLR Pass loyalty program works, its variance from the old VIPeak, as well as some of its benefits and drawbacks.
How does XPLR Pass work?
North Face’s loyalty program, XPLR Pass is an improved version of what was formerly known as VIPeak. Shoppers who join the program are rewarded with a 10 percent discount on their very first purchase. The program also uses a points system where members earn a point each time they spend a dollar in the store. Members also gain early access to exclusive products and limited-edition collections, an opportunity to field-test their purchases, among other benefits.
To create their new XPLR Pass account, customers can join the program for free by signing up in-store or from the company’s website, thenorthface.com.
New XPLR Pass members can redeem their 10 percent discount within the first sixty days of joining the program.
Once a customer joins, they can begin earning a point for each dollar they spend either on the online store or physical shopping outlets in Canada and the U.S. For every 100 points earned, the company gifts you a $10 reward.
There are several ways members can earn 100 points within the year while transacting with this brand:
- Referring friend: Referring a friend to the store is equivalent to 25 points. Members can share their referral links with their friends and family and earn 25 points if the referral is successful. This means that if a customer refers four people within the year, they stand to gain their 100 points which earns them their $10 reward.
- Shopping collection: When customers shop from North Face’s Renewed Collection, they also stand to gain 25 points. However, this perk is available to U.S shoppers only.
- Downloading app: One can also gain 10 points by downloading The North Face iOS mobile app. Each member is limited to earn points on only one download, even if they re-install or delete the app.
- Using Mobile app: Members can also earn an extra 5 points for visiting any of The North Face stores by checking in on the mobile app. This perk can be earned once per month, per one location.
- Being environmentally friendly: Customers can earn 10 points up to two times each calendar year by grabbing or bringing along their reusable bags when they shop at their local outlet.
- Performing outdoor Activities: For each month, members can earn 5 extra points for exploring an iconic place such as a National Monument or a National park. Customers only need to check in with their iOS mobile app and earn 5 points for one location per month.
- Taking survey: Members are rewarded extra points for sharing feedback and participating in surveys with the brand.
Accumulated points are converted to rewards thrice per calendar year; in March, June, and October. Points earned within February and May are issued as rewards in Mid-June; those accumulated within June and September are issued in Mid-October, while points gained within October and January are issued in early March. When a reward is issued, those points are deducted from the customer’s balance. Unused points however remain in the balance until its expiration 12 months after its acquisition.
Customers can find their rewards on their dashboard when they log into their XPLR pass account. They will also receive an email notification to redeem their rewards with an option to add to their mobile wallets.
Rewards can be redeemed while purchasing at any of the company’s retail outlets or shopping on their online store. Members need to provide a 4 to 8 digit pin and 19-digit card number to redeem their rewards at checkout.
Additionally, XPLR members can field-test their gear and return it within sixty days if they are unsatisfied with the product. Loyalty members can also trade in certain gently-used gear for a gift card that can be redeemed at their next purchase.
What are the good things about the program?
One of the best attributes of the XPLR Pass rewards program is its visibility to new and frequent shoppers alike. North Face has chosen to effectively promote its rewards program on all of its product pages. Irrespective of the product their customers are viewing, there is a clear call to join the rewards program underneath their “Add to Cart” buttons. New shoppers can see the number of points they stand to earn on the products they purchase and there is also a direct link to the XPLR Pass landing page so they can learn more.
This promotional strategy benefits the brand by constantly drawing in new members while reminding its regular members of the benefits they can receive. New customers will be more likely to sign up for the program because they can clearly see all of its value with no struggle on their part whatsoever.
Another good thing about this program is how generous the rewards are. A good rewards program is one that provides great value to its customers and benefits the brand in return by increasing Customer Lifetime Value. The XPLR Pass provides generous benefits to its members for joining their free program while rewarding them for purchasing gear they already need. Considering the price points on North Face’s products, customers can easily accumulate more points and eventually more rewards. Simply spending $100 on a product or referring four friends for instance could earn you a $10 reward.
How does the XPLR Pass differ from the old VIPeak
While the XPLR Pass is the new name for the VIPeak Loyalty program, certain differences cannot be denied.
The details of the point structure vary in that, with the old VIPeak program, customers could earn 10 peak points for each dollar spent at the online store and any of The North Face retail stores. They could also earn 5 Peak points for each dollar spent at any of the company’s outlets. With the new XPLR Pass, however, members earn a point per dollar spent.
Another difference is that VIPeak members were given exclusive access to attend certain expeditions across the globe, movie premieres as well as VIPeak events within the year when they redeemed their rewards.
Again, the VIPeak program used a tiered approach to reward its members, unlike the new XPLR Pass program which relies solely on a transactional points system. For instance, in the VIPeak program, Basecamp level members had to accumulate between 2,000 and 3,499 points to gain a $20 reward. Half Dome level members could redeem a $25 reward after accumulating between 3,500 and 4,999 Peak points. Summit level members could also receive a $30 reward for earning 5,000 or more Peak points.
How Did the Old VIP Peak program work?
The old VIPeak program was The North Face’s customer loyalty program designed to reward members for purchasing their gear. VIPeak members were rewarded with points known as Peak Points for making purchases, participating in locally organized activities, and engaging with the brand’s social media channels.
- For every $1 spent at the online store (northface.com) and any of the company’s retail stores, members could earn 10 Peak Points. Members could also earn 5 Peak Points for every $1 they spent at the company’s outlets.
- Extra points could be earned for checking in at certain designated locations and for participating in The North Face’s local events.
- VIPeak members also enjoyed access to movie premiere invites, exclusive events, and expeditions with VIPeak travel within the year.
What has improved?
With the new XPLR Pass program, North Face has improved the point-earning capacity of its loyal members. Apart from having a clearer points-calculation process with the 1 point per $1 spent metric, the company has also reduced the number of points needed to redeem rewards. For instance, while VIPeak members would have needed to accumulate 2,000 to 3,499 points to redeem a $20 reward, XPLR Pass members only need 200 points to redeem a $20 reward. This eases the burden on the customer while making it more attainable to earn valuable rewards from the program.
By eliminating the Basecamp, Half Dome, and Summit tiers, the company focuses on the points system to reward its customers who spend more within the year. Again, the company has incorporated clearer ways to earn more points in the new program. Activities such as referring friends, downloading the mobile app, bringing a reusable bag, exploring an iconic location, buying from their Renewed collection, or checking in at their stores can help members gain more points, thus increasing their chances to earn even more rewards.
The new XPLR Pass also provides additional perks that were not initially available to members. Members can now enjoy a field test of the gear they purchase and return it within 60 days if they feel it isn’t right for them. Members have access to a dedicated customer service line where they can get all the help they need. XPLR Pass also surprises its members with birthday shoutouts, and gifts on some of the purchases they make. Other additional benefits include:
- Exclusive deals.
- Opportunities to test new releases.
- The 10 percent welcome discount is available to shoppers on their very first online purchase.
What are the drawbacks?
A drawback of the new XPLR Pass program is the exclusion of access to certain local events and VIPeak Travel. VIPeak members had access to a one-of-a-kind expedition and outdoor events organized by the brand, but this benefit seems to have been thrown out in their new loyalty program.
Despite the snag, North Face seems to have improved its loyalty program drastically by placing the customer first.
This article is part of our series of case studies of loyalty programs implemented by the world's most famous brands.