Today’s Merchant / Brand “Loyalty Cards” do little to drive true loyalty. How do I know this? I was an executive with one of the best known and most sophisticated Loyalty Marketing companies in the US (Catalina), consulting on Loyalty Marketing strategies and tactics for over three years with the world’s 2nd largest retailer (Kroger). The epiphany that loyalty cards “do little drive loyalty at all” actually came from many (behind closed doors, of course) in the ivory tower within the Loyalty Dept itself. It was conceded by them, and by now marketing experts everywhere, that so-called Loyalty Cards do litle more than discount price…and typically to everyone regardless of their propensity to buy with or without the price cut. Targeting offers certainly helps, but marketers still rely on assumption and show evidence for loyalty based upon moving consumers to stock up (ie buy more than a single purchase cycle’s worth of a product, thereby blocking the competition from gaining the next sale). This works fine, but it does not affect a consumer’s true loyalty or affinity for the merchant, nor brand promoted.
The emergence of the “Social Media Card” is a ‘game changer’ in garnering loyalty. The broader model (discussed in earlier posts) that surrounds this new card leverages “community building” within Social Media (done right, conversationally). ‘Self-aggregated communities’ defined themselves by a powerful LOYALTY to a person (ie. Entertainer), place (ie. College/Sports Team), or thing (ie. Charity). Associating this loyalty for the Affinity Card Host (MasterCard is customized with their logo, face, etc…) via interactive websites and Social Media…with related merchants / brands is key. How? Among various tactical options, the most simple is direct or implied endorsement of a merchant / brand on the Affinity Card Host’s own interactive website (think Oprah / KFC Grilled Chicken last summer). More complex, is the inclusion of merchant / brand purchase incentives within this new website that provides a veritable menu of goodies…$$ loaded to their own Affinity customized card via simple ‘point n click’ method. Collectively, all tactics drive consumer traffic & frequency to the interactive website hosted by their famed host.
Now you have traditional purchase incentives placed in the New Media, creating an affinity with an audience that wants to connect with you (call it ‘Loyalty by Association’), all operating within a favorite interactive website and affinity customized (operationally unique) MasterCard Rewards card…termed ‘The Social Media Card”
So what’s in your wallet? …I know, Capital One owns that.
If you have a large loyal following, or are connected to a famed entity or person, you may be interested to learn more about creating true loyalty for merchant / brand partners, while building loyalty of your own. Send me a note at [email protected] or connect with me on LinkedIn…search Tom Nilsen.