A provocative discussion at RetailWire based on NRF findings about store loyalty programs. (My comments follow.) The question up for debate is whether “loyalty programs” as most stores define them really drive true customer loyalty or merely price incentives:
The biggest hurdle is the tendency on the part of many retailers to confuse price incentives for loyalty. These kinds of programs — the Target REDcard, for example — may drive more frequent store visits and even higher customer satisfaction. But it takes an emotional leap to move the consumer from satisfaction to commitment. This requires the sort of long-term brand building that too many retailers are unwilling to do, especially on the brick-and-mortar side of the business.