Time to Check-Out of Loyalty Program Rewards?

It has been taken for granted that Canadians love their loyalty rewards. 89% of Canadians are members of a loyalty program and the average Canadian participates in 8 different loyalty schemes. However, not all may be as rosy as loyalty program marketers may have you believe.

A recent survey released by loyalty program provider Aimia reveals Canadians are becoming increasingly concerned with the data companies are collecting about them. For instance, 83% of Canadians surveyed said they want more control over what data companies hold about them, while 20% have closed accounts or subscriptions over concerns about how their personal information was being managed. Surprisingly, only 8% of Canadians surveyed feel they are actually receiving better offers as a result of sharing their details.

Part of the reason for this apparent consumer frustration is a sense that it simply is not worth it anymore. For some Canadians, the benefit of obtaining a reward in exchange for their data is no longer as apparent. No doubt, some of this frustration has been caused by loyalty program providers themselves.

For instance, the popular SCENE program offered by Cineplex recently amended their terms and conditions. After November 4, 2015, general admission movies will still cost 1,000 SCENE points, but premium movies such as 3D or Imax, will cost 1,500 points, and VIP tickets will cost 2,000 SCENE points. Until now, SCENE members can gain free tickets to any general admission, premium or VIP movie if they have saved 1,000 points. Cineplex also plans to boost the number of SCENE points awarded for each premium movie ticket purchased to 150 points and for VIP movies to 200 points.

The result is that current SCENE members who have been saving their points for a VIP ticket are about to have the value of their loyalty currency cut by 50%. PIAC, as outlined in a 2013 report entitled “Customer Loyalty Programs: Are Rules Needed?”, believes the devaluation of loyalty currency is an ongoing issue for consumers.

Canadians live in an era where one can pay a portion of their student loan with loyalty points. Some Canadians will soon be able to earn loyalty points from the government for joining a gym or getting a flu shot. Since governments are beginning to get involved in the distribution of loyalty currency, perhaps it’s time for decision-makers to consider protecting Canadians from drastic cuts to the value of their hard-earned loyalty currency.

Perhaps now, rules are needed.

 

 

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