retail news in context, analysis with attitude

CNBC reports on the new 2013 Colloquy Loyalty Census, which says that "loyalty program memberships are up 27 percent from 2010, to a total 2.65 billion last year ... That works out to an average 21.9 memberships per household, up from 18.4. But consumers aren't quite as loyal — they're active in just 44 percent of those programs, a drop of 4.3 percent from 2010. Participation in some kinds of programs is also down, with 1 percent fewer grocery program members and a 21 percent drop in fuel and convenience store memberships."

The Census also suggests that because some store programs are perceived as being too complicated or obtuse, consumers tend to gravitate toward programs created by banks and credit cards: "Financial services loyalty program participation rose 28 percent, to 548.4 million memberships in 2012, according to Colloquy."
KC's View:
If some loyalty marketing programs are unsuccessful, it is because they have very little to do with real loyalty ... they are just glorified discount or coupon programs. There are some companies that do it right - that use data to market smartly and appropriately to their best shoppers, strengthening connections in fundamental ways rather than encouraging cherry picking.

This takes dedication, patience and real commitment on the pat of the retailer. Rarely is there a short term payoff. But in the end, I think, it always is better to speak to people's aspirational natures, not the lowest common denominator.