Rick Ferguson

Who are the heaviest users of loyalty programs? The affluent, according to Rick Ferguson, editorial director of COLLOQUY, a provider of loyalty marketing services based in Blue Ash, Ohio. This group is categorized by making $125,000 per year or more in household income.

The economy continues to lag, and that appears to understandably affect almost every sector in the marketing industry. But there's one major exception: loyalty programs, which recognize and reward the best customers of an organization. According to the recent white paper from loyalty marketing publisher and research company COLLOQUY, After the Meltdown: Consumer Attitudes and Perceptions About Loyalty Programs in the Post-Recession Economy, U.S. consumer participation in loyalty programs has jumped nearly 20 percent amid the recession. Here are two reasons why.

In the past six issues of Inside Direct Mail, a quarter of all our stories have mentioned the down economy in the lede. Direct marketers always must consider the bottom line, but now that line has become shakier than ever

A loyalty program, of course, will not increase a customer's loyalty, so that should not be the overriding goal. "A loyalty program, no matter how well it's run, is not going to make [a customer] more loyal to a company," asserts Rick Ferguson, editorial director of COLLOQUY, which comprises a collection of resources devoted to the global loyalty-marketing industry. Rather, the purpose of the program is to demonstrate the company's loyalty to a good customer, and often that surfaces in economic value like discounts, gift certificates, points, etc.

In our uncertain economic climate, loyalty programs play an increasingly important role for direct marketers. Customer loyalty programs have been around for nearly 30 years in most developed countries in the world, including the U.S. and most of Europe. As a result, it’s a saturated market. COLLOQUY, which comprises a collection of resources devoted to the global loyalty-marketing industry, conducted research last year that showed the average U.S. household was a member of 12 loyalty programs. “That seems unlikely, but it’s because a lot of folks will sign up for the initial offer but then not re-engage with it again,” explains Rick Ferguson,

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