Why Rewards Programs are So Often Silly

Feb 3, 2012  |  By Civilian  |  

Rewards programs are, mostly, annoying. Declining to sign up for a rewards program, especially in person, is pretty much awkward. And receiving weekly emails about said rewards program does absolutely nothing for me except clutter my inbox. But, I mean, it’s not like I have a strong opinion on the matter.

We all know that brand loyalty is the number one goal of any marketing team, and with good reason. Understandably, the rewards program has become the go-to plan for most companies. If you might win free stuff with your next purchase, you’ll make the next purchase, right? This is the thinking that has bombarded consumers with—get this—1.8 billion loyalty-programs in the United States. Research shows that a full 50% of these memberships are inactive, many of which were one time customers, never to be heard from again. Well, that’s not helping anyone.

But I’ll try and turn this into a useful rant. If loyalty is what your company is after (of course it is), then you need to look at a variety of tactics and ideas in order to gain that crucial brand following. Consumers are getting savvier all the time. In a dense sea of choices and options, they demand high value, stress-free transactions, and streamlined information. Program points are impersonal and often ineffective in preference-building. Interact with customers by offering exclusive opportunities, or asking for productive feedback. Play to your company strengths. Are you environmentally-friendly? Do you support local charities? Do some donating to education? Consumers are more likely to support your product if they know these things—let them feel warm and fuzzy as they shell out the cold hard cash. And like any new-celebrity-of-the-moment could tell you, your fans want to know you and be entertained by you—so don’t be afraid to show a little personality.

Loyalty is about nurturing your existing customers, not grasping for new ones. And if your customers feel valued… well, they’ll value you right back.


Katherine Timm
Director of Business Development
Mood: Annoyed by some, valued by others

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