Invasion of the Loyalty Cards

Loyalty cards have invaded and have taken over our lives! It all started innocently enough. It seemed like no big deal when airlines and hotels embraced the ‘frequent’ traveler rewards programs. We consumers embraced the idea of earning rewards for our travel.

Little did we know that loyalty cards would band together and plot to overtake our lives! The momentum built slowly so that we wouldn’t notice. First we had one airline and one hotel loyalty card stowed safely in our wallets. Soon, we added other cards to make sure that we took advantage of our travel activities on all airlines and hotels that we might visit. Then, as if we wouldn’t notice, rental car reward cards snuck into our wallets. As we added airlines, hotels, and rental car cards, the number of loyalty cards that we held crept into the double digits.

Other businesses eager to cash in on the loyalty card phenomenon were quick to respond. One by one we added loyalty cards from restaurants, grocery stores, department stores, gasoline stations, coffee shops, video stores, and pet stores. Colorful plastic cards that beckoned us to use them more and more soon overwhelmed our wallets.

The invasion was on! Our wallets were completely overtaken and could take on no more new plastic cards. Like an aggressive parasite, loyalty cards looked for new areas to invade and quickly found our key rings an inviting target. Like something out of a science fiction movie, loyalty cards spawned a new breed of key fobs that crept onto our key rings and multiplied like rabbits. Seemingly overnight, plastic fobs overtook our key rings.

The quiet invasion of the loyalty cards continues today. New businesses enter the fray every day. Book stores, doctors offices, eyeglass stores, veterinarians, and home improvement contractors add to the mountain of loyalty plastic. I fear the day that my lawyer or doctor issues a loyalty card for proctology exams.

I know that I have reached the point of saturation; there is no more room in my wallet or key ring for even one more loyalty card. The overflow of loyalty cards that won’t fit have now assembled together and have begun an assault of various desk, kitchen, and dresser drawers in my house.

We could fight back by throwing them all away, but that’s like asking a life long cigarette smoker to quit cold turkey. Loyalty cards don’t necessarily encourage loyalty – they create a sense of guilt. When a shopper buys at a store without their loyalty card they feel guilt; guilt for not saving a few dollars or not earning their reward points. Loyalty cards are like an addiction; they’re hard to give up.

Loyalty cards are popular with businesses because it can help them to identify their customers, create a sense of exclusivity, and reward their best customers. The mountain of loyalty plastic, however, is creating a burden on today’s consumer to carry – and remember to use – their loyalty card. renault key replacement

To stop the invasion, businesses need to increasingly implement loyalty programs that allow the consumer to self-identify without the need of a physical loyalty card. For online businesses, this is easier to accomplish with cookies or simple online account management capabilities. For brick and mortar businesses, the challenge of consumer identity management is the holy grail of customer relationship management. Until then, the loyalty card invasion will continue to be well engrained in today’s business environment.

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