Earlier this year, the U.S. loyalty landscape expanded into some Plenti-ful territory with the introduction of loyalty coalitions. Familiar to shoppers abroad for some time, loyalty coalitions are alliances between two or more brands, allowing consumers that opt into the program to earn rewards points from one retailer and use them at another. One of the first domestic coalitions is called Plenti.
A global trend comes to the U.S.
You might already have seen plenty about Plenti lately (sorry, pun intended). Launched last March by American Express, Plenti is the first loyalty coalition program in the U.S. and has enlisted a diversity of high-profile brands, including the likes of Rite Aid, Macy’s, AT&T and ExxonMobil. The program is free for consumers, who can now rack up points by purchasing clothing at Macy’s or candy at Rite Aid to pay an AT&T phone bill or gas up at Exxon.
Will it work?
American Express spent the last couple years gauging consumer attitudes toward coalitions. Abeer Bhatia, CEO of U.S. Loyalty at American Express, told COLLOQUY that the company received overwhelming interest in the program.
Loyalty360 reports that Plenti is already a big hit with participating Rite Aid customers. During the company’sJune 2015 earnings call, Rite Aid President and COO Ken Martindale said the successful launch of wellness+ (its previous wellness program) with Plenti was perhaps the biggest news of the quarter. As of June, Rite Aid had already enrolled more than 10 million customers, and its Plenti partners signed up millions more throughout the coalition.
“Last week at Rite Aid, our Plenti members accounted for two-thirds of the transactions that were tied to the Loyalty Card. It’s worth nothing that we have also had significant success in engaging our Gold and Silver members, our most valuable and loyal customers in this enhanced loyalty offering,” Martindale said.
A look at long-term success
Initial program enrollment doesn’t always mean members will continue to participate. However, the fact that international coalitions have been around for years is an encouraging sign that loyalty coalitions could have a bright future in the U.S.
Coalitions aren’t new in countries like Canada, Europe and Mexico. Many international brands have participated in successful coalitions for more than 20 years. Our team at Connexions recently announced its partnership with SMILES, a loyalty coalition program based in Brazil, and we’re also a partner of the LifeMiles coalition in Colombia. According to Fortune, Emily Collins, a senior analyst with Forrester Research and a leading expert on loyalty programs, correctly predicted in 2013 that the first U.S. based loyalty coalition was two years away.
“They’re covering a lot of consumer spending categories,” Collins says about U.S.-based Plenti, “which is what a coalition needs to be relevant to consumers.”
We’ll continue to keep an eye on Plenti and the nascent coalition market in the U.S. to keep you abreast of new developments as they happen. Be sure to subscribe to our blog for news on that, as well as the latest trends in customer loyalty and best practices for rewards programs.