In Defence of Loyalty Programs

Recently, the loyalty industry has really taken it on the chin.  The latest coming from the results of a global study commissioned by Aimia on the perceived value of reward programs. Aimia (operators of Canada’s Aeroplan program) polled more than 20,000 people representing 11 countries and came to the conclusion that collectors don’t feel they’re getting enough value in return for the personal data they give up.

But as much as we love to moan and groan about these programs one thing remains clear — they’re not going anywhere any time soon.  Marketers love the ability to target customer segments and create tailored offerings with the hope they will increase their likelihood to buy. The premise is simple — the more information a marketer knows about its customer’s buying preferences the greater their ability to put something in front of the customer of relevance.  Are there opportunities for improvement?  You bet.  But I think it’s important to remember the bigger win/win these programs represent.  No one wants to go back to the days of clipping coupons and taking packaging flaps back to your favourite grocer.  Loyalty programs drive innovation and simplify the way we convert our loyalty into currency.  In the case of coalition programs — they allow collectors to pool and save up points for something bigger like a trip or tickets for special event. Yes, like many, I’ve been frustrated with how difficult it can be to redeem for higher demand items. But the frustration quickly disappears when I do cash in and feel like I’ve somehow beaten the system by getting something for free. I don’t have an exact number but believe I’ve gained more than five figures worth of value from loyalty programs, sit on close to 3 million points and miles and know some Rewards Canada readers who have racked up as much as six figures worth of savings.

How about you? Do you agree with the survey? Do you like sharing personal info like shopping habits to increase your ability of points earning and redemption?

See the full size infographic on Aimia