pgw Ltd. independent customer & business-to-business loyalty marketing specialists

home / articles

The registered trademark of pgw Ltd.


Customer loyalty towards 2012

Re-reading your confident assertions regarding the future is a sobering and humbling experience.

What seemed a certain outcome never came to pass. The distant potential impact on the assumptions that lie behind your own futurology always seems to loom larger with hindsight than it ever did closer to the events. Even more disconcerting is that what now seems blindingly obvious to any one claiming to have even a little knowledge of the subject is often embarrassingly absent from the crystal ball pronouncements so confidently uttered at the time!

I therefore approach the task of predicting the future for consumer and business to business loyalty with the more than a little trepidation. My collected 'sound bite' thoughts listed below are based on over 20 years of trying to understand this market. The only thing that experience has taught me to be confident in terms of the outcomes is that 5 or even 3 years from now I may wish I had never predicted some of the following:

  • loyalty schemes will still be the currency of exchange between suppliers trying to understand their rapidly changing customers and the customers themselves who are wanting a supplier to acknowledge their value as a customer;
  • the 'rate to exchange' will have gone up as customers start to demand a better response from suppliers for the use of the data being collected;
  • some schemes will still be ignoring the data collected but this will be due to a positive positioning on the part of the supplier that they are intentionally avoiding the 'spy in the wallet' game;
  • many really poor and badly run loyalty programmes will continue to waste money for suppliers and irritate customers;
  • social outcomes and environmental concerns will feature very high in consumers' concerns in terms of their attitude to suppliers; this may seem a lower priority in 2008 as the global economy heads into recessionary spirals but these are powerful trends and they will impact on the loyalty marketing way of doing business;
  • the on-line, always connected web 2.0 world will continue to shape and impact loyalty schemes, especially in the consumer markets;
  • cost saving and sustainable business model aspects to loyalty programmes will become more important in getting senior management attention;
  • social networks such as Facebook, Friends Re-united and Linked-In will start to explore consumer loyalty approaches as a means to add value for members and create income streams for the programme managers;
  • large scale coalitions such as 'payback' in Germany and Air Miles in Canada will continue to build a solid base of partners and customers but as they mature the operators and owners will seek mergers and acquisitions to build a cost saving play into their business models;
  • the Tesco/ Dunnhumby approach to customer insight will continue to be much talked about but few retailer managements will have the continuity of senior management and the commitment to create the same insight;
  • the innovation in customer loyalty will come from social plays such as the 'wedge card' in the UK to be a counter-point to the 'big retailer' approach;
  • banks will continue to try to build loyalty schemes for their customers and spend a lot of money on ineffective and poorly conceived programmes;
  • ethnic and culturally-focused loyalty programmes will start to emerge to respond to the needs of large migrant populations, especially within EU markets;
  • amongst younger consumer groups, peer-to-peer loyalty will be stronger than any supplier based loyalty;
  • how long can the global over supply of frequent flyer miles be sustained without the available resources of fulfilment in terms of seats on air planes to back up the currency?

Peter G Wray

The author is managing director of pgw Ltd. This article was first published by The Wise Marketer, February 2008.

Copyright © 2000 pgw Ltd. All rights reserved. The pgw logo is a registered trademark of pgw Ltd. "" is a trademark of pgw Ltd.