Posted by Brandon Carter on Aug 21, 2014 12:58:00 AM

I don't just work for a company that operates in the loyalty program space, I'm a huge fan of them myself. I'm attracted to the idea of getting something - points, a "punch," anything - for spending my dollars with a company. Like most people (78% in fact), I'm more likely to pull the trigger on a purchase if I know it'll be recognized somehow.

I'm not in the majority, however, when it comes to redeeming points (just 35% of members redeem points, according to Forrester). I like something for my points, even if it's just a branded beer koozie.

So it was that I found myself on the phone with a national retailer that operates a fairly prominent points program. Looking through their online portal, I noticed I had accumulated enough points to acquire a $50 gift card. Except, the site wouldn't let me redeem my points for that reward. According to the rep on the phone, it seems some of the points I had accumulated during a recent promotion weren't eligible toward the gift card.

Huh? I didn't know rules like that existed, but she told me it was all right there in the fine print of that particular promotion, naturally.

Loyalty Statistics The Ultimate Collection

She went on to explain that I could redeem most of my points for a $35 gift card and my "promotional" points for a $5 card, putting me just $10 away from the $50 card I had fallen in love with. Conversely, if I spent a couple hundred bucks in-store that week I could earn points that would actually count toward the $50.

Posted by Brandon Carter on Jun 18, 2014 4:26:00 AM

Have you ever signed up for a points program without actually knowing the details? As in, just pass over your name and phone number and you’ll start getting points on every purchase, eventually earning enough for…something.

Of course you’ve done that. Points are awesome. Points are sexy.

But there is a growing issue with many of these programs, and it's leaving members trapped in a glass case of emotion, wrestling with the joy of so many points (yay!) yet not much of value to acquire with them (boo!).

What's happening in points and miles programs, and what can be done to get them back on the right track?

Posted by Brandon Carter on May 1, 2014 2:08:00 AM

Not too long ago I stumbled upon an article wherein a loyalty guru was asked to weigh in on the future of rewards programs for credit cards. He opined that the long-term outlook for these types of programs, particularly those that dole out points, was heading for a sharp decline. The problem, he said, was that the convenience of mobile technology would inspire people to actually redeem their points, resulting in a revenue decrease from shrinking breakage.

Like Walter White from the popular AMC series BreakingBad, some loyalty programs are turning to the dark side. They've abandoned their purpose - loyalty, the very thing they're named for - and instead are just another quick trick to bring people in the door and shuffle them right back out.

A loyalty program that's dependent upon breakage to be deemed a success isn't a loyalty program at all. It's just a broken promise.

Posted by Brandon Carter on Mar 24, 2014 2:23:00 AM

Pop Quiz!

Without consulting Google or your address book, name the following:


Your plumber


Your dentist.


The last membership organization you joined.


Your real estate agent.


The brand of cereal you ate this morning. Or the name of the farm your eggs came from, if you're the lucky type that gets to have a nicer breakfast.


The family vet.


The manufacturer of the ink pen next to your hand. Or the manufacturer of the case around your smartphone on which you're reading this.


Okay, quiz over. How did you do?

Just a guess, but you probably drew blanks on many of these. It's okay; you're just not engaged with these brands.

Posted by Brandon Carter on Jan 2, 2014 1:21:00 AM

Try to count the methods companies use to generate customer loyalty, and you'll quickly run out of fingers. And toes. And the fingers and toes of your friends and family. A quick glance at our collection of loyalty statistics shows that companies are attempting a variety of tactics, and customers are lapping it up - if not necessarily always returning their loyalty.

Points and miles, punch cards, gamification, discount programs, insider clubs...brands have become incredibly creative in trying to capture the elusive hearts and minds of customers, with decent results most of the time. If a loyal customer is so much more valuable than trying to pull in new ones, then it's very much worthwhile to invest in any idea that can bring a customer back.

Which is why it's so mind-boggling that many companies are overlooking the small stuff that has a direct impact on a customer's perception of the brand. Specifically, there's one area where many brands are simply not doing enough.

Posted by Brandon Carter on Jun 26, 2013 5:08:00 AM

There has never been a more exciting time to be in the customer loyalty business. Every day it feels like some new technology hits the market (especially in the mobile world) or some company is going above and beyond to do something great for their customers.

There are a record 2.65 billion loyalty program memberships in the US, a 26.7% jump from 2010. The average household contains 21.9 loyalty programs, up from 18.4 two years ago. These figures are from the latest Colloquy Loyalty Census, which serves as a snapshot of the industry as a whole and the verticals within.

We previously summarized the Maritz Loyalty Report, which had some great information that mostly pointed toward growing interest in loyalty programs, but waning engagement. Not surprisingly, Colloquy’s findings point in the same direction: there is a consumer hunger for loyalty programs – to be recognized, engaged, rewarded – and a lack of fulfillment by brands in meeting those desires.

Of those 2.65 billion memberships, members are active in less than half of them (44%.) Describing “active” as “members who have engaged at least once in the past 12 months,” Colloquy says this number is growing, but at a slower rate than overall memberships (21% to 26.7%.)