What did you get for your birthday?


Recently I celebrated a birthday and had a lovely day. I am always reminded as each year passes that more and more brands are leveraging their customer data, as they should; and, more and more loyalty rewards programs in particular are identifying incentives that really mean something to their customers.

In the past, I have always received generic well wishes from many of the loyalty rewards programs and/or service companies that I am a member. This year, I received something from more brands across different categories and industries. What better time to recognize your customers than on our birthdays?


Here’s how some of my favorite brands wished me a happy birthday:

  • Starbucks sent me a birthday wish and offered me a free food or beverage item of my choice. I just had to use it on my actual birthday. I did.
  • Marriott sent a festive birthday wish along with an elite credit towards a free night. I just needed to activate the link so they could put the credit in my account. I did.
  • Hair Salon. A family owned business sent me a post card offering $5 off of my next service. It came through the mail and it was homemade which made me smile. I love independent owned small businesses! All I had to do was present the card at my next appointment. I did.



  • Spa & Wellness Center. Another family owned business mailed me a birthday postcard wish the old fashioned way with a $10 credit towards my next spa service. I haven’t used this yet but I do plan on it.
  • Panera’s celebrated my birthday with a pastry. Days later they sent me a reminder that it would expire soon. So nice. (Unfortunately it expired before I could get over there to use it).


So, I was really impressed and while I know it’s an algorithm that identifies my special day it still made me feel good that each one of these businesses appreciate who I am as their customer. While it’s hard to build loyalty these days I got to tell you this scores big in my book.

On the other hand, I got some nice birthday greetings from other brands that I frequent and they were fun too.

For example, I got a JetBlue birthday wish. It was nice of them to send me an animated electronic birthday card. I opened it and enjoyed reading it. The funny thing, JetBlue told me I should go to their website and book a trip. A birthday gift for myself. I love JetBlue but that suggestion sounded more like a birthday gift for JetBlue. I would have just enjoyed the wish without the suggestion because it then became about them and not me.

While all of the wishes were about driving sales some made it less subtle than others and captured the essence of the messaging which is remembering me on my birthday. And, let me be clear it’s not about gifts. A genuine birthday wish without an incentive is fine. As long as your messaging stays focused on your customer that is what helps to build brand loyalty.

So, here’s wishing you have a lovely day on your birthday too!



Sonya Ruff Jarvis, is the Managing Member of Jarvis Consultants and Founder of the eRetailer Summit. Sonya has extensive experience in creating original innovative solutions to overcome major business challenges.  Sonya has spent most of her career visiting headquarters across global industries and has built strong business relationships across diverse brands. 

Sonya has a M.B.A. in Marketing. She is married and has a daughter and they live in Fairfield County Connecticut.  

Follow Sonya on twitter at @jarvisconsult or @eretailersummit

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