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The Chicago Tribune reports this morning on how technology companies are trying to “put a fresh spin of loyalty programs,” taking them beyond the point where the shopper use a card (one of dozens on their keychain, as often as not) and get a price break.

The story notes that “a steep discount can attract thousands of new customers, but merchants say the challenge lies in convincing buyers to return. That's where these new technology companies are stepping in, harnessing such things as mobile applications and social media to keep merchants close to their customers.” The goal is to create relationships, not just offer rewards, and to as much as possible wean people off coupons (or their electronic brethren).

One example: MobManager, a Chicago startup “that helps merchants track daily deal customers, is trying to target the window between the initial coupon redemption and long-term loyalty ... (helping) businesses track voucher usage and target consumers with follow-up email promotions.”
KC's View:
The opinion here has long been that most loyalty programs are simply ways of giving out coupons, and that they have very little to do with loyalty. There has to be an improved connection between the store and the shopper, and it has to focus on more than just discounts. Stores have to prove to the shopper that they are loyal to him or her ... not just hand out discounts that they hope will make the shopper loyal to them.