Program Protection in 2012


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Americans may have reveled in retail spending for the holidays, but don’t expect the party to continue into the New Year. According to a December, 2011 Harris Poll focusing on economic and financial outlook, consumers have already taken off the party hats and poured out the flat champagne. Is your loyalty program prepared? Consumers expect 2012 to be another chilly economic season, and they’re buttoning up their wallets.

On the overall economy, 29 percent said they expect it to worsen while 49 percent expect it to stay the same. Last year, 41-45 percent of Americans intended to pay down debt, but only 39 percent have that plan this year. Only one in ten plans to spend on home improvements, and fewer than that plan to take out a home equity line of credit. In fact, one in six plan to get rid of a credit card altogether.

Despite a bright December for many retailers, the economy isn’t thawing yet. Consumers are going back to the basics, so it’s a great time to do the same and make sure your program is positioned to win a valuable share of that tightly-held wallet.

Value. This almost goes without saying, but do you have the insights to understand what “value” means to your best customers? One segment may be looking for regular discounts, while another prefers to save for dream purchases or events they otherwise couldn’t afford, like United MileagePlus’s new “Headliners” monthly auctions where customers can bid on special-access events and experiences.

Ease of use. With so many programs to choose from, consumers will gravitate toward the ones that are easiest to integrate into their daily lives. Zappos’ VIP program, for example, offers free overnight shipping and free returns. That’s a bonus that makes time- and cash-strapped shoppers’ lives run more smoothly. Ask your best customers where the glitches are in your program and what can be improved.

Attainability. Whether customers are saving for a dream vacation, looking for fuel discounts, or building up a points account to buy their 2012 holiday gifts, make sure they can reach those goals. Drive engagement and earn with “next level” reminders, “bounce back” reward offers, and recognition benefits.

Bundle up your program in some basic protective gear. It will help you weather a chilly 2012 and be well positioned when the sun comes out.

Phaedra Hise
As Senior Editor, COLLOQUY, Phaedra leads the creation of new editorial pieces for multiple distinct content platforms in the COLLOQUY media enterprise: COLLOQUY magazine, the Enterprise Loyalty in Practice journal, COLLOQUY web site, COLLOQUY social media blog, COLLOQUY Network Partner content commitments as well as other LoyaltyOne vehicles.


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