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The New York Times reports that GE Capital Retail Bank, which offers branded credit cards for numerous retailers, is getting into the loyalty marketing business.

According to the story, "GE Capital and a partner are teaming up on a new product, to be announced this week, to help retailers set up and maintain loyalty programs that will create a unified profile for shoppers. That means they can be monitored across any platforms they might use to interact with the company, like Facebook, Foursquare or an app, and their purchases can be integrated into that profile regardless of how they pay.

"The product is called Integrated Multi-Tender Loyalty and is being developed with Kobie Marketing, a company that builds loyalty programs. It will allow customers to sign up for a credit card that feeds into the program and for which the retailer can devise reward programs."

Both partners in the program say that the launch comes as more and more retailers are looking for effective loyalty marketing strategies.
KC's View:
It is possible that this could work, but I suspect that GE Capital and Kobie may find that crossing retail segments may be more complicated than they suspect.

A couple of decades ago, if I'm remembering correctly, Citibank decided to get into the loyalty marketing business … and the people running the program believed fervently that they would own the data and could sell it to other customers. This ignored the basic fact that most retailers feel proprietary about their data - these are their customers, not the bank's.

GE Capital may not make this mistake, or it may figure out a work-around. But I tend to be suspicious of companies define loyalty in a way that is different from how retailers define it. (Or ought to.)