The Best Loyalty "Program" In the World? Or The Best Loyalty Marketer?

We are often asked about who has the best loyalty program.  It's a good question but not necessarily the right one,  given our view that loyalty marketing is about much more than programs.  Programs are a beginning and a necessity for a lot of brands but they are, as we've long maintained, a means and not an end.

For a lot of companies, loyalty programs provide a reason for customers to identify themselves, opt-in and be "trackable" in terms of touch points and transactions. This yields the vital data that allows astute marketers to build customer relationships.  These relationships provide dimension and tangibility to the brand, and more importantly, they represent an existential asset base for any thriving business given the incremental profits they can generate.

For a while now we've suggested that Amazon is the best company out there in terms of loyalty marketing, yet they don't have a traditional loyalty program.  

It starts with CEO Jeff Bezos' well documented obsession with customers, much as it does with any organization that is customer-centric.  While many don't count Amazon Prime a "loyalty program", in our view it's not only a loyalty program, but a great one.  But it's only a part of what Amazon does to drive customer loyalty.  The program is integrated throughout the customer experience and it's well documented -- including on Amazon's earnings calls each quarter -- how much lift it drives.

We could go on and on about Amazon and why Prime is arguably the best loyalty program and yet this week there were articles published that illustrate Amazon's superiority.

The first, in AdAge reports a new study by Millward Brown that shows consumers see Amazon is the #1 brand both in the U.S. and globally in terms its value proposition.

The second article, in The Wall Street Journal's "Heard On The Street" column and discusses the reach Amazon is having at a brick-and-mortar level.  It appropriately contends that specialty retailers of all types should be well aware that Amazon is already winning and retaining their customers.  

Believe it or not, there are still many retailers who do not understand that Amazon is one of their most threatening competitors.

They should.