Loyalty programs: Is time worth more than money?

Recently the RetailWire panel  had a chance to discuss new thoughts about loyalty programs. The article under discussion focused on the value of the consumer’s time, but several of the examples were not specific. The common theme — and a growing issue in rethinking loyalty programs — is how to change the formula from just being price-focused. Here’s my comment:

The examples mentioned in the article are not always about time-saving, but they are consistently good examples of how to delight the customer by exceeding expectations. Some of the benefits are convenience-based, others are based on the idea that frequent customers merit special recognition.

But the common theme is that these are not pricing-based ideas. Many retailers and service providers mistake deeper discounts for true loyalty programs, but price incentives only encourage the customer looking for deals to shop around and cherry-pick. It’s time for more merchants to follow the lead of service providers in rethinking the very meaning of their loyalty offers.

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