Rewards Program Fail: Ziploc

In Customer Experience, Featured on App, Loyalty & CRM by Kevin Kelly2 Comments

fail,,reward company, reward programmes, rewards program, Rewards loyalty program, loyalty business strategy, loyalty campaign, millenial, strategy

Rewards programs come in all different shapes and sizes. They usually bring good things for you as an individual or a consumer. Points=perks and you often don't have to do much outside of purchasing the item.

There are different strategies, however. I think we all do it so I might as well just admit to it—you know when you eat standing up by the pantry snacking on anything you can find? Well, there is nothing quite as pleasurable as reading meaningless cardboard package products while annihilating one too many SpongeBob Cheese Nips.

It was a couple seconds after Patrick and Sandy met their coterminous fates when I found my box of Ziploc bags. The box declared, "Recycle for Rewards!"

A rewards program around recycling? That's pretty cool. This is how loyalty should work—it should support both the product itself and something much larger (I'm that eco-friendly millennial that marketers think I am after all!)

But I found the steps on the website and I got confused. It looks like S.C. Johnson, the parent of Ziploc, uses a recycling rewards company called Recyclebank.

Here are the steps:

1. Purchase specially marked boxes of Ziploc® Snack and Sandwich bags when you see "Ziploc® brand bags are now recyclable" on the top of the box.

2. Find the Recyclebank Points Code printed inside the box and enter it on this page in the points code box.

3. Recycle your clean and dry Ziploc® bags at your local grocery stores' plastic bag recycling center.

4. Use your points for great rewards like discounts on Ziploc® products. If you get these rewards, you'll be entered into our Ziploc® Rewards sweepstakes to win the Big Green Cookbook and a Cuisinart® GreenGourmet Cookware Set.

There's a key flaw—the Rewards code works without recycling. There is no strategic relation between recycling and rewards. It's more of a suggestion. Can a rewards program function on the honor system?


Find out how to make an effective loyalty program at this year's US 2013 Customer Festival this October where top marketers and c-levels will be discussing tangible strategies.

What are your thoughts? Does the honor system work for loyalty programs?


[photo – flickr Nima Badiey]


  1. Mio

    Hi Kevin,

    I think you are absolutely right about this. While people do like to win prizes, we know inherently that nothing comes for free. This actually morphs into nothing of any value comes for free.

    By giving customers something for absolutely nothing devalues the “prize” and as such interest wanes. On top of that, there is the psychological undertone that if I don’t have to do anything to potentially win the prize, then thousands upon thousands of people will enter as well and minimize MY chances — so why even try?

    From a brand perspective, simply giving things away doesn’t do anything to build loyalty. Why run a loyalty program when all the action is happening one way? Loyalty comes from interactivity!

    There are so many perceived negatives that result from this type of giveaway.

    As marketing specialists, we need to know our customers (and potential customers) well enough to find that sweet spot. Push them, just enough, towards giving something to us (ie send in box tops, ad a banner to your blog, etc) so that it makes them feel that they’re doing something of worth and thus will receive something of value.

    At this point I’m going to stop because my comment is getting longer than your post! 😀

    1. Author

      You said it better than I could have: “Loyalty comes from interactivity!”

      Great and truthful insight!! Thanks for you thoughts and opinions Mio!

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