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By Marlon Bowser, chief executive of HTK T


he loyalty landscape today can look a little bleak. Although memberships in loyalty programmes have been rising year-on-year, active participation is steadily shrinking, with the latest reports suggesting that more than


half of all loyalty members are inactive. It’s no surprise, then, that almost three-quarters of transaction-based programmes fail within two years of launch. Businesses often blame the customer. ‘Today’s


consumers are just too fickle’, we lament. ‘Millennials don’t know how to be brand loyal. All anyone cares about is finding the best deal’. And to some extent, these observations are accurate. But this perspective misses the root of the problem.


Most of the time, customers behave this way because retailers have taught them to. Struggling to differentiate in a crowded marketplace,


many retailers have turned to vouchers and discounts in an attempt to win customers’ hearts (and their repeat business). And most of the loyalty software available to marketers doesn’t just encourage this “points-for- discount” model - it enables little else. This voucher-led approach has created an environment


in which customers are encouraged to choose brands based on whoever is offering the deepest discount. The issue, then, is not that customer loyalty is simply


a thing of the past, as some marketing experts would suggest. Successful loyalty programmes show us that brand loyalty does still exist, even among millennials. Rather, the issue is that current approaches to loyalty -


namely, discount-driven schemes - are failing to engage modern consumers.


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