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From plastic to personal: What’s next for loyalty programs?


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Long heralded as an effective way to excite and engage shoppers, loyalty programs are rooted in the notion that customers, when incentivized, will pledge their allegiance to a retailer and remain just that—loyal—to a store or brand. Yet while the initial draw to these programs can be strong, it can also be difficult to maintain the momentum required to safeguard or increase ongoing business, with many retailers seeing activity levels wane after an initial surge at sign-up.

As we look into what the future holds for both retailers and consumers, at a time of unprecedented technological evolution and disruptive change, it is clear that effective loyalty and reward programs must move past generic discounts and mass communications. Instead, they must move to more thoughtful, personalized plans that target shoppers’ individual styles and preferences, while also appealing to their deeper need for community and engagement.

As consumers become more connected, mobile and social technologies will stay at the forefront as venues for both e-commerce and consumer engagement, underscoring the ever-increasing importance of digital security and transparency, as companies learn more about the consumers they want to attract and retain. Successful loyalty programs will be ones that align their incentives with brand objectives and authenticity, creating a seamless shopping experience that boosts consumer confidence and emotional connection, leading to repeat business and satisfied customers—the ultimate reward.

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