Coalition loyalty has succeeded for decades in other parts of the world, including Germany, the UK, the Middle East, New Zealand, but never in the U.S.
American Express made an historic U.S. customer loyalty announcement linking such diverse retail brands as Macy’s, Rite Aid and Hulu and lets users rack up loyalty points across multiple brands at the same time. The program, known as Plenti, is the first of its kind in the United States, giving users a chance to earn rewards at one store and use them with an entirely different merchant.
“This is a perfect time for a coalition loyalty program in the U.S., as online marketing becomes more efficient and American consumers become more accustomed to rewards programs, special offers and discounts,” said Ed Gilligan, former president at American Express.
“The response was overwhelming to us,” said Abeer Bhatia, CEO, Plenti. Abeer will be the keynote speaker of America’s Customer Festival this year, to talk for the first time along the coalition partners on the impact of the initiative for the loyalty market in the US.
Part of forming the Plenti circle is in the program’s exclusivity component. Any consumer can sign up to be a Plenti member – but not just any merchant can, as the program does not allow direct competitors to participate, so that no one has to feel they are literally subsidizing their competition.
The program have a mobile app and website-based platform, as well as traditional membership cards. Points earned will be valid for at least two years.
Even though coalition loyalty seems groundbreaking, there are still few questions that Plenti needs to prove to be successful for all stakeholders.
- What’s the probability that Plenti will find success being a foreign concept in the U.S?
- What factors will be vital to Plenti achieving success?
- Retaining existing loyalty programs? Adding even more complexity for customers?
- What lessons should be learned from the failures of past coalition programs?
- Are brands should build their own loyalty or should join Plenti?
In addition to the cross-promotional opportunities that can introduce brands to a host of new consumers, it feels like coalition loyalty can deliver first class loyalty experience where customers value convenience.
Some of those questions will be answered by Plenti’s CEO at this year’s America’s Customer Festival. Click here to register now for the conference.