Amex's Plenti Could Help Popularize Coalition Rewards Programs in the U.S.


Amex's Plenti Could Help Popularize Coalition Rewards Programs in the U.S.

By Paula Bernier, Executive Editor, TMC  |  October 26, 2015

The more the merrier. Then again, too many cooks spoil the broth.

If you like to save money or get other perks from the organizations with which you do business, perhaps you’re more than happy to sign up for a broad array of loyalty programs. Indeed, according to a recent Colloquy study, 3.3 billion Americans are now members of loyalty programs. But at some point, loading down your wallet with a collection of different loyalty cards – and/or your smartphone with an array of loyalty-related mobile apps – can become a messy and unmanageable situation.

Loyalty programs can be a messy proposition for brands as well. They can be both challenging and expensive to manage.

That’s led some organizations to step forward to act as aggregators for various companies’ loyalty rewards efforts, and brands to align behind these efforts.

However, while AirMiles in Canada was a pioneer on this front in 1992, and Brazil Bots, Nectar (News - Alert), and Germany Payback are popular efforts elsewhere in the world, to date coalition loyalty programs have not taken off in a big way here in the U.S., says Brandon Logsdon, president and CEO of Fuel Rewards Program. That may be changing, however, at least in part due to the recent launch of Plenti by American Express (News - Alert), suggests Logsdon, who sees the launch of Plenti as good for the loyalty coalition market in general.

“Amex is spending an ungodly amount of money marketing it,” says Logsdon, “and all of it is helping awareness.”

Like any coalition loyalty program, Plenti enables consumers to earn points from a collection of select vendors and then use those points to purchase future goods and services. In the case of Plenti, the partner vendors are AT&T (News - Alert), Direct Energy, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Exxon, Hulu, Macy’s, Mobil, Nationwide, and Rite Aid. Additional Plenti partners are expected to come aboard over time. In addition to serving as the aggregator, American Express now offers a Plenti credit card that customers can use to earn a Plenti point for every dollar spent on eligible purchases.

“With the new Plenti cobrand Card, card members can collect, combine and redeem even more points for savings,” says Eva Reda, senior vice president of cobrand partnerships at American Express. “The card is great for people who are loyal to Plenti partner stores and want the service and trusted security of American Express.”

In addition to viewing Plenti as a source of education for the U.S. market, Logsdon is excited about this effort because he believes Fuel Rewards Program is a better option. That’s both because Fuel Rewards Program has a defined currency, he says, and because while clothing and soft goods represent just 2 to 3 percent of U.S. household spend, gasoline represents around 7 percent of the household spend, and a transaction that happens twice a week on average.

“We like the fact our currency is lowering the cost of everyday life,” he says, adding that the program’s typical customers average 45 cents a gallon every time they go to the pump, so the program puts $7 to $8 in their pockets each time they buy gas.

Edited by Kyle Piscioniere
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