TITLE

Brand Loyalty Programs: Are They Shams?

AUTHOR(S)
Shugan, Steven M.
PUB. DATE
March 2005
SOURCE
Marketing Science;Spring2005, Vol. 24 Issue 2, p185
SOURCE TYPE
Academic Journal
DOC. TYPE
Editorial
ABSTRACT
Brand loyalty and the more modern topics of computing customer lifetime value and structuring loyalty programs remain the focal point for a remarkable number of research articles. At first, this research appears consistent with firm practices. However, close scrutiny reveals disaffirming evidence. Many current so-called loyalty programs appear unrelated to the cultivation of customer brand loyalty and the creation of customer assets. True investments are up-front expenditures that produce much greater future returns. In contrast, many so-called loyalty programs are shams because they produce liabilities (e.g., promises of future rewards or deferred rebates) rather than assets. These programs produce short-term revenue from customers while producing substantial future obligations to those customers. Rather than showing trust by committing to the customer, the firm asks the customer to trust the firm--that is, trust that future rewards are indeed forthcoming. The entire idea is antithetical to the concept of a customer asset. Many modern loyalty programs resemble old-fashioned trading stamps or deferred rebates that promise future benefits for current patronage. A true loyalty program invests in the customer (e.g., provides free up-front training, allows familiarization or customization) with the expectation of greater future revenue. Alternative motives for extant programs are discussed.
ACCESSION #
17149917

 

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