Friends, loyalty programs are designed to form a relationship between the marketer and the customer. Successful loyalty programs encourage the consumers to buy frequently and increase the amount of time the customer spends in the store. They are structured efforts by the marketing team to encourage and reward loyal behavior. Loyalty cards can come in paper or plastic. When the customer presents the card at the check out lane it identifies them as a member of the loyalty program that a particular store has. The customer usually has to share some minimal basic personal information to sign up for the card. The more elaborate cards are electronically loaded with the customers information and demographics. They can also track the individual buying habits of each customer. Super Markets such as Kroger and Giant Eagle and Drug Stores such as CVS all have loyalty cards. In order to get the special's of the week the customer must present their card to reap the benefits of the sale price. This allows the store information on the customers spending habits and rewards them in various ways such as coupon or reward bucks.

Friends, loyalty programs are designed to form a relationship between the marketer and the customer. Successful loyalty programs encourage the consumers to buy frequently and increase the amount of time the customer spends in the store. They are structured efforts by the marketing team to encourage and reward loyal behavior. Loyalty cards can come in paper or plastic. When the customer presents the card at the check out lane it identifies them as a member of the loyalty program that a particular store has. The customer usually has to share some minimal basic personal information to sign up for the card. The more elaborate cards are electronically loaded with the customers information and demographics. They can also track the individual buying habits of each customer. Super Markets such as Kroger and Giant Eagle and Drug Stores such as CVS all have loyalty cards. In order to get the specialís of the week the customer must present their card to reap the benefits of the sale price. This allows the store information on the customers spending habits and rewards them in various ways such as coupon or reward bucks.

Some restaurants have jumped on the loyalty programs as well. Max & Ermaís has a of loyalty program. Guests are rewarded based on the number of their visits by 5%, 10% or 15% off their bill. Complete Pets Mart and Muttís & Company are two pet stores that I have loyalty cards to. Each time I buy a bag of dog food the stamp the card. After so many bags you get a free bag. With two dogs that is an incentive. There are loyalty cards for anything from greeting card stores to book stores. They are getting more and more popular.

There are some criticisms of the loyalty programs though. Some companies have not jumped on the bandwagon because they complain that these loyalty programs discount merchandise to people who are already going to purchase their goods whether they have a card or not. The more elaborate cards with the magnetic strip can be very costly to the companies. They have to be electronically updated in the system. As the customer one needs to be organized enough to carry the card on their key chain or in their wallet. Most places with the electronic cards only need a customers phone number to access their rewards account. Another complaint I have heard is that some shoppers do not want a store to track what items they are purchasing. Over all I think the loyalty programs are fairly successful. People like thinking they are saving. They are using credit cards that offer cash reward kickbacks and are booking flights with airlines that offer a frequent a flyer program. So what do you think, do loyalty cards influence where you shop? For now happy shopping!

Laurie, TheBag Lady